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26 October, 2020 - 14:23 By Tony Quested

Cambridge Network and Business Weekly push Cluster’s global credentials

Cambridge Network CEO John Gourd

Cambridge Network and Business Weekly have strengthened an alliance designed to heighten profile and hopefully win fresh business for local companies within the UK and internationally.

The partners have picked up the gauntlet on behalf of the Cluster at a time when the UK faces an exit from the EU plus the prospect of wooing trade from markets such as the US and China where no free trade deals have yet been won by the Government.

The agenda includes acting as a supremely connected and well informed gateway for global companies, collaborators and investors seeking a soft landing in Europe’s leading Science & Technology Cluster.

Business Weekly, now in its 31st year, has worked with Cambridge Network in various forms since the latter was founded in 1998. Arguably the business building capabilities of both organisations are now more potent – and important – than ever.

As the Network’s CEO John Gourd – ex-Johnson Matthey – points out, far from sounding the death knell for business networking, the coronavirus lockdown and subsequent restrictions have highlighted an even greater need for people and companies to make and maintain valuable connections. 

And in the Eastern region, two of the organisations in the vanguard of enabling these vital connections are Cambridge Network and Business Weekly.

Granted, the Network and its 1200-plus businesses have had to make changes to rise to the challenges of the pandemic. “In fact, we've had to drastically adapt our business model,” says Gourd, “and we did this very rapidly.

“No longer able to host events face-to-face, we learned quickly how to deliver sessions for networking, training and recruitment online, and we did so within a matter of days of the initial lockdown.

“Everything we do supports our mission – to encourage collaboration for shared success. We help Cambridge to compete on the world stage in a number of innovative ways.”

The Network does this by:-

  • Fostering closer relationships and sharing ideas between businesses, academia and individuals through a calendar of member events, most of which are now online
  • Facilitating peer learning groups and sharing high quality training as ‘The Learning Collaboration’ – virtual courses have replaced classrooms
  • Connecting people and companies for research and partnering through our knowledge of local expertise and our comprehensive member Directory
  • Enabling member companies to find and attract quality candidates to work in Cambridge, through our high-profile jobs board ‘Recruitment Gateway’ – and now through our virtual jobs & careers fairs
  • Facilitating co-operation, action and resource sharing by being a focal point for organisations and participating with business views in the wider regional agenda.

Gourd adds: “While some of these activities were made difficult at times by the coronavirus outbreak, it spurred us on to work more closely with our members, encouraging them to promote themselves and to connect with each other. 

“We provided a platform for many of them to talk about their work through Network-hosted webinars, which were free to all. Over the course of the past few months, our team has run more than 60 webinars, attracting almost 3,300 participants from around 700 different organisations. 

“Although we are now making a nominal charge to non-members, these one-hour sessions continue, and we have a forward calendar of diverse topics.

“An interesting and unforeseen benefit of the move to online delivery has been the increase in international participation in our activities. This can only be a plus for the reputation of Cambridge and the Network globally.

“Separately – because so many people have faced redundancy or uncertainty about their jobs and yet many companies are still recruiting – we’ve also hosted three successful online jobs & careers fairs since March, with another planned for November 20. These have proved hugely popular, with several hundred potential candidates taking part each time.”

Gourd says he has been impressed by the amazing resilience and adaptability of many Network members – local businesses, large and small – that had been able to switch resources to help with efforts to control and deal with the virus. The examples he cites include:-
• AstraZeneca’s work with the University of Oxford to develop a COVID-19 vaccine 
• TTP, Cambridge Consultants, PA Consulting, Sagentia and Team Consulting participating in the Nationwide Ventilator Challenge
• Marshall’s work on reinventing the ‘iron lung’
• eg technology, which offered medical device developers help and support from its team of engineers.

“On top of these and many other examples, we noted countless cases of altruism, with donations of equipment and funds to the NHS and other organisations,” Gourd added. 

“Now, with the second wave upon us, it's more important than ever that we continue to keep people informed, stimulated and motivated. Our team is in constant contact with members and we are still attracting new ones to join our community. 

“Everyone interested or involved in business in the Eastern region and beyond – we have members from across the world – is welcome to join and participate in our many activities.”

• Find out more today by visiting cambridgenetwork.co.uk – and we will keep readers appraised of upcoming joint initiatives on behalf of the Cambridge Cluster.

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