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10 June, 2014 - 05:48 By News Desk

London and Cambridge lead UK entrepreneur ecosystem

David Gill of SJIC - quoted in the report

A new report highlights the dominance of London and Cambridge in leading the UK’s entrepreneurial ‘ecosystem’.

Authored by Cambridge startup Social i Media, the report investigates how entrepreneurs in the UK are supported and the barriers that hinder them, as well as wider trends that are shaping the UK innovation ecosystem.

‘Start me up: Creating Britain’s entrepreneurial ecosystem’ is due to be published today.

In addition to substantial desk research and in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs and other experts, Social i Media teamed up with an award-winning social data intelligence platform, Pulsar.

Data mined from 200,000 posts captured over three months to 16 March 2014 identified London, followed by Cambridge, as the most dominant hubs for online conversations about entrepreneurial activity and related topics.

The Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL) Cambridge, a not-for-profit based at Cambridge Judge Business School, was the biggest influencer in such social conversations, the Pulsar data found.

During the data period, the key topics identified within Cambridge’s ‘virtual ecosystem’ were not as strongly linked to academia-related topics as might be expected; instead ‘technology’ was mentioned in conjunction with ‘social innovation’, ‘new techniques’ and the ‘world’.

The key topic, ‘co-founding group’, was mentioned in the same posts as keywords ‘pharmacology’ and ‘prestigious university’.

Anna Lawlor, co-director and content creator at Social i Media, says: “The Pulsar data was completely impartial and, since we moved from London to Cambridge in order to launch our media communications agency here, I was not surprised to see Cambridge as such a significant hub for entrepreneurial support, facilitation and innovation.

“Cambridge has such a rich seam of entrepreneurialism but so often this is considered in the context of its world-class universities. This report shows that the innovative enterprises of Cambridge are not the sole preserve of its universities, though they too have a distinct role to play, particularly in knowledge-sharing collaborations that benefit both.”

The latest report is UK-specific and argues that entrepreneurial Britain is beginning to flourish as policy changes and increased investment in the UK’s innovation ecosystem take root.

However, the report argues that in comparison with the US and Europe, the UK is only at the beginning of its journey to a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and suggests a myriad of ways policy makers and business leaders can help strengthen a culture of entrepreneurialism that focuses on people, places, products and processes in equal measure.

In addition to interviewing Jaideep Prabhu, Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of Business and Enterprise at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, and David Gill, managing director of St John’s Innovation Centre (part of St John’s College, University of Cambridge), the report also includes interviews with Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College (University of Oxford) and Chair of the Big Innovation Centre; Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of lastminute.com and the former UK Digital Champion; Eze Vidra, head of Google for Entrepreneurs Europe; Kathryn Parsons, founder of Decoded; Jane Chen, co-founder of Embrace; and professors at Cass Business School and Imperial College London.

David Gill advocates collaboration between universities and hubs of entrepreneurial activity, such as innovation parks where pioneering startups with the potential for high growth are provided with flexible and subsidised workspace and supported by ancillary services based in the same place.

He says that gatekeepers who understand the needs of both sides are vital and encourages university students to undertake work placements within startup businesses so that they can share and apply their knowledge in a business setting, while the startup benefits from a student’s expertise at no cost.

• View the full report at http://newsroom.barclays.com/imagelibrary/downloadMedia.ashx?MediaDetailsID=6006

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