Cambridge Enterprise has had a very successful year, with 304 patent applications filed, 144 licences executed, a record 441 consultancy contracts signed, and a seed fund portfolio valuation at an all-time high of £124 million. I am pleased to report that at the close of the fiscal year we returned over £20 million to the University and its departments, against the £2.7 million we received in core funding at the year’s start.
In this same financial year, the University of Cambridge contributed almost £30 billion to the UK economy, of which over 77% was from commercialisation and knowledge transfer activities. The report by London Economics demonstrates the enormous value and potential of the University’s research commercialisation activities to the local, regional and national economy, alongside the benefits to global society from the translation of this research.
Among the highlights was the news that portfolio company Gyroscope Therapeutics was acquired by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, for up to $1.5 billion. It is an excellent outcome for intellectual property that Cambridge Enterprise had supported since 2009. In July, our portfolio company Nyobolt took a huge step in its mission to lead the future of sustainable energy storage with a £50 million Series B funding round which has enabled the company to move into its next phase of scaling up manufacturing.
Cambridge Enterprise has much to be proud of. We play a pivotal role in activating the University at the centre of a globally competitive innovation ecosystem. Within a seven mile radius of the University there are over 5,000 knowledge intensive businesses generating a combined turnover in excess of £50 billion.
While it is an enviable position, it is not one that we take for granted. We work in close co-ordination with the rest of the ecosystem, including businesses, government representatives, investors and University leadership to be ambitious for the future.
Over the past year Cambridge Enterprise, in partnership with Cambridge Innovation Capital and the University of Cambridge, established Innovate Cambridge. This is an initiative to develop an inclusive, forward looking and ambitious vision for the future of Cambridge and its innovation ecosystem.
Through all our consultation on this initiative, the theme that I have heard time and again is that Cambridge holds many of the keys to achieving economic growth for the region and for the country—but also for unlocking solutions to global challenges from climate change to health innovation and the digital transition.
Over one hundred organisations have signed the Innovate Cambridge Charter, in which they pledged to come together to support, promote and enhance the Cambridge ecosystem, and to develop a set of ecosystem-wide initiatives to enable the delivery of the Innovate Cambridge vision.
Universities are optimistic places. We are continuously researching and finding solutions to the most significant global challenges. Cambridge Enterprise is deeply committed to its role of translating these solutions to achieve benefit for the economy and the world.
Oddly enough, one of my favourite thinkers on innovation is one who died 500 years ago: Niccolò Machiavelli. He warned that the innovator “has enemies in all those who are doing well under the old order…and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would do well under the new order”.
Fear of change is nothing new, but we must resist it. The world urgently needs the technologies being developed in universities. The coming decade will be more disruptive than the last. A new wave of disruption in artificial intelligence (AI) will increasingly bring together the physical and digital worlds. Novel technologies will allow us to collaborate with intelligent digital entities and help us all tackle the sustainability challenge.
A Cambrian explosion of new algorithms and architectures is opening up the possibility to deploy machine intelligence to execute existing problems with unprecedented speed and tackle previously intractable problems.
Emerging technologies are unlocking the ability to work with materials at nanoscales, combined with new manufacturing techniques that allow for mimicry of biological and evolutionary processes that dovetail into new machine intelligence capabilities.
Cambridge Enterprise is tasked with guiding the best deep tech innovations out of the University’s labs and helping them toward market. Our people understand the science, the commercial opportunities, the hidden risks, and the tremendous potential of innovation.
Time and time again, Cambridge Enterprise has advanced the earliest stage technologies and therapeutics through proof of concept, IP protection, licensing, partnerships, de-risking and spinning out companies. The path can be a long one; we are proud to be working side by side with extraordinary academics along its length.
The infographics below present some of our performance highlights for the financial year 1 August 2021 to 31 July 2022.
‘Investment in numbers' showcases some highlights from our Seed Funds team, and includes some cumulative data.
‘Knowledge transfer in numbers' summarises our performance across our knowledge transfer activities: academic consultancy, intellectual property protection and development, and licensing.
Ideas to Reality Videos
Net operating surplus/(deficit) for the year £622k
In 2021-22, there were 138 companies in the Cambridge Enterprise portfolio. Those spin-outs that grow and succeed often exit the portfolio through acquisition, and occasionally via a public listing. Over the lifetime of the University of Cambridge Seed Funds, this has generated billions of pounds in value. Below are a few examples of the current holdings.
Regional Lead, Western Europe, South America & Africa, Managing Director and Senior Partner, BCG Digital Ventures
Dr Diarmuid O'Brien
Dr Paul Seabright
Professor Andy Neely OBE
Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Enterprise and Business Relations
Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith
Chief Financial Officer, University of Cambridge
Professor Laura Diaz Anadon
Climate Change Policy and Director, Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance
Professor Russell Cowburn
Professor of Experimental Physics
Professor Patrick Maxwell
Regius Professor of Physic
Board Member, Henry Royce Institute
Dr Jane Osbourn OBE
Chair, BioIndustry Association (Board member until June 2022)
Managing Partner, 3rd Eye
Chief Business Officer, Cancer Research UK
Director, Technology Licensing Office, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
*Advisor to the Board
Registrary, University of Cambridge
Director of Finance, University of Cambridge
Chair of the Investment Committee
Dr Keith Blundy
Dr Barbara Domayne-Hayman
Fellow, Cambridge Judge Business School and Chairman, Cambridge Angels
Dr Iris Good
Computer technology entrepreneur
Dr Richard Jennings
Technology transfer consultant
CEO, Babraham Research Campus
Professor Patrick Maxwell
Regius Professor of Physic
Dr Diarmuid O'Brien
Chief Executive, Cambridge Enterprise
Deputy Chair of the Investment Committee
Dr Paul Seabright
Deputy Director, Cambridge Enterprise
Professor Steve Young
Emeritus Professor of Information Engineering
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