A new business and academic member group has officially launched with the aim of providing a collective cross-sectoral business voice to help shape the future of Cambridge.With a prestigious initial group of members, represented at chair, CEO or equivalent level, Cambridge Ahead will provide a business perspective about the future opportunities and requirements for the city and its region so that it can retain its character and continue to grow.
The membership base of Cambridge Ahead at launch represents a working population of over 25,500 people in Cambridge and a turnover of over £4 billion.
Cambridge Ahead is differentiated from other business member organisations by having the long-term growth of Cambridge and its region at its centre and by representing all industries, professions and sectors. It will not duplicate or dilute existing activity and will develop close working relationships with all organisations to enhance existing work – in particular Cambridge Network and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
The inaugural chairman of Cambridge Ahead is Jeremy Newsum, a former chairman of the Urban Land Institute. He says: “I believe strongly that business has much to contribute to the evolution of a place undergoing changes as rapidly as Cambridge. The diversity of economic activity here is astonishing and we must fulfil our obligation to explain how business contributes and to be thoughtful about its future growth.
“We are also pleased to welcome Baroness Valentine to our Launch to share her experiences of London First which, as a model, has been such an inspiration to us in setting up Cambridge Ahead.”
Three initial projects are being started, ‘Sell Cambridge to Itself’ led by David Cleevely; ‘Clarify the Growth Agenda’ led by Dr Tony Raven, chief executive of Cambridge Enterprise and ‘Improve the Quality of Life’ led by Professor Michael Thorne, vice-chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University.
‘Sell Cambridge to Itself’ starts from the premise that we have to know what we have now before we can take an informed view of the future and sell Cambridge to others.
The project will build a consensus across the greater Cambridge community on the Cambridge brand – the combination of its rich history, the way it has evolved and what it can offer in the future to people (and organisations) who might live, work or study here.
Working with the networks and local government, Cambridge Ahead will collate the information needed for the effective promotion of Cambridge.
David Cleevely said: “Sell Cambridge to Itself will focus on the Cambridge brand – what it represents, what its future vision is and why Cambridge is so important to the UK. Marketing begins at home. We need greater awareness of how successful and vital Cambridge is right here in the region. Once we have that we can market to the rest of the world because we will then have thousands of informed and enthusiastic supporters.”
‘Clarify The Growth Agenda’ will engineer a long-term 20-40 year vision for the city’s future which by focussing on the next generation, will transcend short-term political differences.
A greater consensus around a vision and a broad understanding of its implications are both necessary when the opportunities are so large. Cambridge is likely to be at the heart of the UK growth engine in the future.
The implications of growth particularly for new infrastructure and long-term planning will be highlighted for wide debate. The project will also consider the value and feasibility of creating a 20-40 year land use model to illustrate conceptual plans which demonstrate what might be possible and desirable. This will allow testing of significantly different options to take place in an open process.
Dr Tony Raven said: “This project will help develop a Cambridge vision for the area’s continued growth over the next 20-40 years. Cambridge is Europe’s leading technology cluster but maintaining and building on that position will need the infrastructure and spatial challenges constraining growth to be identified and addressed.”
‘Improve the Quality of Life’ will build on Cambridge’s successful growth to date. It is currently worth over £12 billion to the UK economy and unemployment is 4.6 per cent against a national background of 7.8 per cent and one of the lowest in the East of England.
“This makes lifestyle a top priority including ensuring local services and the social infrastructure are fit for purpose into the long-term by supporting and collaborating with other programmes and developing new projects and initiatives. Businesses know that people will only be attracted to work in Cambridge if life outside the workplace is equally fulfilling.”
Professor Michael Thorne said: “The project I shall be leading will focus on Quality of Life and how, as the city continues to grow and develop, we can have a city where it is not only good to work, but also to live and bring up young families – be you the top scientist in a business new to Cambridge or one of the army of workers who make the city work on a day to day basis.
“We shall be reflecting on a range of topics including what needs to be done so that companies can easily attract a talented workforce and examining the range of leisure activity on offer to ensure that it meets all demographics.”
The new chief executive of Cambridge Ahead is Jane Paterson-Todd. She said: “This is a very exciting day for us and we are thrilled to not only have the opportunity to share our objectives but also to unveil our first three projects which will address some of these key issues.
“I am indebted to our outstanding group of influential members which gives us the credibility we need to make a difference, not for our members directly but for everyone connected with this great city.”
Initial members of Cambridge Ahead are: Anglia Ruskin University, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, ARM Holdings, AstraZeneca, Bailey Fisher, Barclays, Bidwells, Birketts, Brookgate, Cambridge University, Deloitte, Grosvenor, Howard Group, Jagex, Marshall of Cambridge, MCS Marketing, Mills & Reeve, PwC, RG Carter, Savills, St John’s College, Trinity College.
Individual members are: Matthew Bullock, David Cleevely and Jeremy Newsum. Lord Broers and Peter Landshoff have agreed to be honorary vice-chairs. Cambridge Ahead has recently moved into offices in the CB1 Business Centre on Station Road, Cambridge.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: The launch of Cambridge Ahead (left to right): Patrick McMahon, Bidwells; Jane Paterson-Todd, Chief Executive Cambridge Ahead; Ian Mather, Mills & Reeve; Nicholas Bewes, Howard Group; Baroness Valentine, London First and Jeremy Newsum, Chairman Cambridge Ahead.