13 May, 2011 - 07:54 By Tony Quested

Does Cambridge recognise the new ‘Phenomenon’?

While there are still ‘sell by’ dates on virtually everything on the planet we would do well to recognise that this includes humans. There comes a time when grey beards have to stop chuntering on about their own glory days and give way to the thrusting young generation.


In Cambridge and elsewhere in the world this new generation doesn’t represent a horde of barbarians at the gate of the technology cluster. They are intelligent, articulate young people; internet savvy, commercially aware – and with so much energy that we could harvest for the good of the economy and society.

What successive governments and too many technology investors fail to grasp is that there is infinitely more inherent value in intellectual capital than exists in fiscal capital. Many VCs and angel investors can appreciate a wad of greenbacks but struggle to understand a tech proposition. In the main they are so focused on a potential exit that they miss the entry signs.

Investment in this intellectual capital will lead to tangible, fiscal benefits for the economy.

Young teams at the outstanding Springboard Cambridge programme are extremely grateful for the time so many Cambridge entrepreneurs have taken to pop in and share their experiences. But there is an undercurrent of worry that angel and other investors may not understand the new app-driven, internet-inspired tech ventures that are springing up – and not sufficiently fleet of foot to provide the cash so a window of opportunity isn’t lost.Notable exceptions, and not for the first time, have been arch-angels Robert Sansom, Neil Davidson in a personal capacity and Red Gate Software whose financial generosity has underpinned the inaugural Springboard Cambridge programme.

We are living in a new age; a fast moving world of cloud and convergence; of apps and advance. I am seriously beginning to wonder whether the local investment community in general appreciates the new Cambridge Phenomenon on its doorstep. It is here; it is now. If you blink you may miss it. It will move elsewhere.

The brave new world belongs to the young. The baby boom generation hasn’t particularly covered itself in glory in terms of social and environmental responsibility. The new generation of young tech entrepreneurs are offering us a chance of redemption – we must hand them the keys to the kingdom.


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