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19 June, 2018 - 13:22 By Jamie Quested

Cambridge2Cambridge accord agreed in Boston summit

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer has signed an historic agreement to work towards forming an official Partnership Accord with Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the US.

Mayor Palmer was in Boston to co-sign the document with his counterpart Marc McGovern. 

The two areas have much in common, with Cambridge, MA having two of the world’s leading universities, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, like the Greater Cambridge area, burgeoning life science and hi-tech clusters.

The two Mayors will work together to shape the accord, which will include seeking opportunities for mutual trade and investment, shared educational and business partnerships, an exchange of information and ideas, as well as fostering cultural ties. 

The accord, when fully formed, will partner the whole of the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority area with Cambridge, MA.

Both areas also face similar challenges in balancing their rapid growth with meeting the housing and transport needs of the people who live there. Part of the future accord would see a commitment to sharing ideas and solutions on infrastructure to make growth sustainable into the future.

James Palmer said: “Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and Cambridge Massachusetts have a huge amount in common and there is much we can learn from each other across a number of areas. There is also much to be gained from increased trade and investment between the two dynamic centres that we represent.”

Cambridge, MA is part of the greater metropolitan area of Boston and it is well known for its Kendall Square business district, described as one of the most innovative square miles of enterprise on the planet thanks to its quantity of creative and pioneering businesses based there. It has 200 life science-related companies as well as 80 venture capital firms, which are helping to fuel the innovation economy.

Cambridge UK has 4,500 knowledge intensive businesses within 25 miles of the city and its enterprises file more patents than the next four best UK cities combined. 

The University of Cambridge is recognised as the world’s second best, and the city can boast creating 98 Nobel Prize winners. More than 25 of the world’s largest corporations are based in Cambridge.

Furthermore, with both centres offering a similar business climate, several major corporations including Microsoft, Amazon and Genzyme to name a few, choose to have a base in both cities.

Mayor Palmer and Deputy Mayor Roberts also met with a number of city officials, councillors and representatives from both Harvard University, MIT, the business community and key individuals who had shaped major infrastructure initiatives in Massachusetts, including Boston’s ‘Big Dig’.

With Cambridge MA part of a greater metropolitan mass transit system, Mayor Palmer, who is also planning a mass transit underground metro for Cambridge, was keen to see how it was helping the city to thrive. He was also interested in learning about some of the strategies used by Cambridge, MA in delivering more affordable housing for its residents.

He said: “Clearly there are significant economic synergies between the areas we represent and as we know, there are a number of world leading companies who base themselves in both areas. We’re both world leaders in life science, homes of thriving technology clusters and to three of the greatest universities on the planet.

“During my visit, one of the things that I found most remarkable was how many of the challenges we face are the same – particularly on transport and housing. 

“Like our Cambridge, Cambridge Massachusetts has a booming economy that has led to an overheated property market and a transport system under strain. 

“During meetings that took place throughout the day we learnt much relating to managing the implications of significant growth. In many respects, it would seem that Cambridge Massachusetts are slightly further ahead than we are in developing solutions to many of the common challenges that we face.
“Cambridge Massachusetts has the benefit of being part of a comprehensive public transit system and has also developed a number of interesting and successful strategies to provide affordable housing.

“It’s hard to think of an area we can learn so much from. Going forward I’m keen for a full partnership accord to be agreed as soon as possible and for it to become a meaningful platform that provides significant benefits to both parties. 

“Since the visit I’ve spoken to a number of businesses that have bases in both locations who are excited by the potential of a partnership accord.”

Mayor Palmer with Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion at the Department for International Trade

Minister of State for the Department for International Trade, Baroness Fairhead, met the Mayor in Boston and commented: “This agreement is a great example of collaboration between two like-minded regions in order to develop productive trading ties between the UK and US. I look forward to seeing the UK as a whole and our US counterparts benefit from this partnership in the near future.”

Low-cost airline Primera Air recently started direct flights from London Stansted to Boston, increasing accessibility between the two Cambridges at a more affordable price than traditional carriers. Mayor Palmer used the service as part of the visit.

• Business Weekly reviews Primera Air’s Stansted-Boston service in the end-of-June edition as part of our annual Born on 4th July feature highlighting trade between the East of England and the US.

PHOTOGRAPH (top of page): Mayor Marc McGovern of Cambridge, MA (left) with Mayor James Palmer holding the signed agreement.

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