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14 September, 2017 - 14:00 By Tony Quested

Cambridge Enterprise awards fete academics and influencers

Cambridge Enterprise Tony Raven

The new Cambridge Enterprise Academic Entrepreneur of the Year Award is designed to honour outstanding work by an academic as an innovator, founder or consultant in the past 12 months.

Cambridge IP spanning a range of technologies and sectors has had a transformational impact on countless areas of society and business over the years.

The source of such innovation can easily be overlooked as the companies leveraging the core IP commercialise it and take the limelight – sometimes years distant from its birth within the alma mater.

This award seeks to instantly highlight the bridge between academia and the commercial world.

Cambridge Enterprise is also sponsoring a lifetime achievement award to recognise an extraordinary career devoted to innovation and commercial success for the benefit of society and the UK economy – open to any individual.

Dr Tony Raven, the CEO of Cambridge Enterprise, has further improved the outreach of the university’s commercialisation arm since assuming the role in 2011.

He chose to become involved with the Business Weekly Awards to demonstrate the broader impact of university academics and their enterprises.

“It is right that academic entrepreneurs, who are at the epicentre of the scientific and technological advancements emanating from Cambridge, are honoured for themselves rather than simply for a successful business that they have initiated,” Dr Raven said.

“The national challenge is to invest more heavily in science and technology that translates into societal and economic benefits. We are proud of our role in providing financial support through our seed funds and The University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund – as well as crucial support services – to help companies get started. 

“Cambridge Innovation Capital, with its patient capital model, has extended the nature of support that our spin-outs are able to benefit from over the longer term.

“We are seeing increased engagement from entrepreneurs across the university who are approaching us with their ideas and seeing how we can help in the commercialisation process. We will help them work the idea into something we believe is fundable.

“We can call on people with the expertise and time necessary to support the growth of young startups and we also ensure that we have sufficient financial resources to invest in startups with potential. The seed funds, UCEF and CIC’s investment on top of these all helps to give these young businesses a good start.

“We are starting to do things the way I want us to do them and giving budding businesses a flying start is central to our vision. Too often in the past we have seen our startups bouncing along the bottom to see Californian counterparts come steaming past them at a rate of knots.

“That is happening less and less; witness Carrick’s record $95 million investment, the success of Cambridge Epigenetix, Horizon Discovery and others. They are now able to compete with their US contemporaries; they are on the same footing.

“There’s a great UC Berkeley paper – Vortex Versus Waypoint Campuses – which analyses how universities drive the creation of massive regional innovation ecosystems.

“At Waypoint Universities IE-oriented students enjoy the educational benefits, graduate and then mostly disperse to work and live. They might donate money to the alma mater but do not contribute to building the university’s critical mass of IE ecosystem talent.

“Vortex Universities, according to UC Berkeley has alumni continuing to stay to work and live in the vicinity of the campus and contribute to the university’s critical mass through collaborations, mentoring, investment and other services. Their liaison with university people helps lead to more new products and companies.

“Cambridge is a Vortex University. We have created a world-class science & technology cluster around the university; a large core of serial entrepreneurs collaborate with and invest in our startups.

“They stay in the vicinity of the university and help encourage new generations of startups with advice, contacts and money and are continually creating new waves of exciting young businesses.”

To enter the awards and for the full category list visit

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Cambridge Enterprise CEO, Dr Tony Raven

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