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Engineering enabler drives global product design from Cambridge

The team at engineering dotcom GrabCAD in Cambridge

An organisation that has developed the world’s largest community of mechanical engineers with over 1.3 million members is helping to drive technology product design for global clients from a Cambridge UK base.

GrabCAD is an online business started in 2009 by two young Estonian mechanical engineers and expanded into Boston in the US and, most recently into the UK where it has established operations at Cambridge’s CitiBase.

Its online network has provided a means for idea sharing and the creation of worldwide project teams and boosted Cambridge’s international reputation as a ‘go to’ resource for technology and innovation.

Director Stuart Reid said the company was leading the open engineering movement. The online business helps engineers get products to market faster by connecting people, content and technology, enabling them to set up profiles on the site and showcase their work.

Companies that want to source designs for new products can also use GrabCAD to get ideas from engineers.

The company also offers GrabCAD Workbench – an online tool that makes it easier for engineers to manage their data.

In 2011, the business moved its headquarters from Estonia to the US and in November 2012, set up its first UK operation in Citibase’s Cambridge business centre where it continues to grow.

Reid was one of two people that helped to establish GrabCAD’s new development office in the UK. With a degree in mechanical engineering and extensive experience of developing CAD software, he was well positioned to help evolve the business and develop new tools for its growing membership.

Already home to a large number of CAD and technology businesses, Cambridge was an ideal location for GrabCAD and Reid vetted a variety of potential bases across the city before choosing Citibase.

He says: “Cambridge offers lots of choice in terms of office space and we considered a number of options, including the science park. That may have been the obvious choice for a company such as ours, but we wanted to be closer to the city centre community.”

Initially the GrabCAD team consisted of two people, but quickly expanded to six. Reid said: “We expanded quite rapidly in the first few months. It wasn’t long before we had outgrown our original office but we were able to move into larger accommodation within the same building and use our original space as a meeting room.”

As the team grew, GrabCAD worked with Citibase to reconfigure its existing space to create a larger office that could accommodate the extra staff.