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6 August, 2018 - 16:30 By Tony Quested

Of cabbages and kings: Cambridge innovation grows from farmland to fresh frontiers

David Braben Frontier Developments

Two new science & technology buildings standing side by side on Cambridge Science Park – on land funded from China by Tus-Holdings, – were officially unveiled in the space of 24 hours and demonstrated a rich innovation harvest cultivated from fallow fields.

Tus-Holdings from Beijing held a topping out of its £200 million Bio-Innovation Centre which will provide laboratory and collaborative space to help hothouse exciting life sciences startups.

The independent game developer and publisher Frontier Developments opened its new videogame development studio next door the following day.

Cambridge Science Park was farmland before Trinity College planted the seeds of an innovation hothouse which has produced a rich harvest of intellectual property for the planet.

Frontier was founded in a farmhouse just outside of Cambridge in 1993 and has grown to become the UK’s biggest independent game developer and publisher. Today it employs over 380 people and inspirational CEO David Braben said the new studio emphasised the importance of Cambridge to what looks like becoming its next billion dollar business.

Trinity has had to fight tooth and nail to push its ongoing development blueprints past, through and round planners, and it seems like Tus-Holdings has had to endure some of the same frustrations in making its own dream development come true.

Chairman Jiwu Wang told guests at the Bio-Hub opening that his organisation was absolutely thrilled at succeeding in the development after years of negotiation, hard work and patience on both sides. And he revealed, without choosing to elaborate: “Forces tried to disturb our efforts here.”

Enquiries in China and Cambridge to throw more light on these frustrations failed to elicit specific details but tensions in any development that combine expansive plans and inward investment are not new to the Science Park or other major schemes in the cluster.

Jiwu Wang added that Tus-Holdings wanted the Cambridge hub to be just the beginning of a long term collaboration.

He said there was a new model to counter protectionism and Tus-Holdings’ Tuspark power player was determined to work even more closely to forge new trade science, technology and trade links between Cambridge, China and Europe as a whole. “We need to work together to set an example to the world,” he said.

The investment from Tus (Tsinghua University Holdings  will create a nextgen biohub with research laboratories that will be home to young entrepreneurial scientists and filled with cutting edge equipment. 

This will drive innovative research and help to develop this research into life changing drugs and new surgical techniques that could improve the lives of many.

The joint venture between Trinity College, which owns Cambridge Science Park, and TUS is part of the college’s wider strategy for the park and marks an important phase of renewal investment in the oldest part of the site.

Other elements of the collaboration will include academic exchanges between Cambridge University and Tsinghua University.

• PHOTOGRAPH: Frontier Developments CEO David Braben opens the company’s new Cambridge Science Park facility

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