LSIP attend the Innovate Cambridge Summit 2023

October 19, 2023

Adeline Winshaw, LSIP project Manager, was invited to attend the 2023 Innovate Cambridge Summit.

Here’s what she has to say about it:

On 11th October, I attended the Innovate Cambridge Summit 2023. The event was hosted in the heart of Cambridge, a city brimming with intellectual curiosity and known for its rich history and breakthroughs in science and technology.

Major technology and life science companies call Cambridgeshire home, which makes it a considerable national asset. These sectors are a significant focus of our Local Skills Improvement Plan (see here), so I was excited to understand more about the innovation to come.

Setting the vision

The purpose of the summit was to describe an ambitious vision which could focus collaborative efforts towards growth and ultimately enhance the importance of Cambridge in the global landscape.

Experts from key employers, academia and political figures shared their perspectives on the importance of life sciences and technology for the region, delving into various aspects of innovation.

Bold objectives were revealed, including an ambition that by 2035 the ecosystem could achieve a number of outcomes, including:

  • Becoming the global #1 for active patents per capita
  • Achieving £20 billion pounds of VC investment
  • Producing 2.5 times the existing number of ‘unicorns’ (startups valued at more than $1 billion).
  • Building 10 million sq ft of new lab space
  • Creating 60,000 new jobs

Themes of discussion

Throughout the afternoon, various aspects of innovation were discussed and examples were shared of successes and partnerships that have already been realised. Topics included the role of research and development, access to venture capital, the importance of the city having a clear brand and initiatives such as the creation and collaboration planned with Manchester’s new Innovation District (M1D).

I won’t attempt to condense a whole afternoon of fascinating content and conversation into a 1,000 word review. But three themes in particular stood out to me:

1. The need to encourage and facilitate entrepreneurs.

Speakers and panellists repeatedly emphasised the need to empower entrepreneurs and provide them with the necessary resources and support to not just create, but continue to grow successful businesses.

With key commitments around increasing VC and the number of ‘unicorns’, the need to foster ambition within young people via the education system and dedicated support programs was highlighted.

2. The political commitment to growth in Cambridge.

George Freeman, the Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation, highlighted the Prime Minister’s commitment to the city and Cambridge 2040. Support was echoed by Daniel Zeichner (the labour MP for Cambridge) confirming the ambition for growth is supported across political lines. which provides useful confidence in an uncertain political environment.

3. The importance of ensuring this innovation benefits the local community.

The various speakers were clear on the intention to ensure that innovation brings tangible benefits to the local community and going even further – to ensure that they feel they have a voice shaping the future.

Social value commitments were made around apprenticeships, climate targets and cross-city collaborations. A target to invest £100 million into the local community was revealed, alongside the ambition to become the most ‘equal’ innovation ecosystem in the UK.

However the jobs created by innovation sectors often demand advanced education and specialized skills, making them inaccessible to those who haven’t had the economic or educational opportunities. Daniel Zeichner emphasised the importance of ensuring that social polarisation and resentment among the local population isn’t increased by a growth in the disparity between those who directly benefit from the innovation in these sectors and those who experience an increased cost of living without access to equal benefits.

Dr Nik Johnson, the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority emphasised the need for meaningful accountability if this ambition is to be realised. He also highlighted the importance engagement and funding for local government and other advocates for the local communities (not just in the wider South Cambridgeshire area, but in all parts of the region such as Peterborough and the Fenlands).


The Innovate Cambridge Summit was a testament to the power created when industry, education and local government come together to enact change.

It set ambitious goals and celebrated the idea that innovation is not just about technological advancements, but also about empowering and improving the lives of the local population.

The event ended with a rallying cry for stakeholders in the room to embrace this strategy and take on a sense of responsibility in its delivery. With governmental support and increased partnerships created between industry and academia, I am sure Cambridge is well on its way to the international reputation and investment desired.


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