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19 April, 2011 - 11:02 By Tony Quested

US and UK VCs flock to Springboard Cambridge debut

Jon Bradford

Six UK contenders – including one from ideaSpace Cambridge – have made the cut of just 10 teams from a total of 231 global entries for the inaugural Springboard Cambridge tech startup accelerator, starting May 3.

 

US investors and UK Venture Capital firms as well as leading corporates have booked ‘ringside seats’ to check out the innovation on show.

In an exclusive interview with Business Weekly, programme director Jon Bradford revealed that Microsoft, Google, PayPal, Facebook and Amazon Web Services were among the corporate heavyweights checking out the action.

VCs engaging with participants include Amadeus Capital Partners, Octopus Ventures, Eden Ventures, Index Ventures, DFJ Esprit, Pentech, Doughty Hanson and Balderton Capital.

More than 70 mentors have committed to take part in the Cambridge programme. Bradford said: “We’ve had great support from Cambridge angels, such as Robert Sansom, Hermann Hauser and Sherry Coutu. Many other mentors will travelling to Cambridge from London and overseas including Sweden, Poland, Spain, Denmark, Romania, Switzerland, Canada and Silicon Valley.

“It’s been an overwhelming response to the inaugural event. Getting down to just 10 teams from such a large and impressive worldwide entry was exhausting but exciting.

“We would had had 11 teams but one of the teams we chose pulled out after hooking £350k investment – which is good in a way, because it shows we were  thinking on the right lines.

“The vagaries of choosing so few from so many can work both ways: One of the mentors who visited me asked whether we had seen X company among the 231 contenders and said they were absolutely amazing. We counted them out in the first round! Someone has to make the judgement calls.”

The identity of the chosen 10 teams is being kept under wraps in the build-up to Springboard Cambridge but Business Weekly has been asked to steer a Q&A round-table with the chosen 10 to explore issues surrounding Cambridge innovation.

The 10 teams involve 25 people: Six teams are from the UK, one from Cambridge, and the other four from Estonia, Lithuania, New Zealand and the Czech Republic.

Bradford said the teams covered a broad mix of sector types including online gaming, data analytics, entertainment, dating, e-publishing and developer tools.

The Springboard programme will start on May 3 at the Hauser Forum, culminating in an investor day on July 29 in Cambridge.

“We have already been contacted by a number of US investors who have expressed a desire to attend the event,” said Bradford. He has been approached by a number of parties about extending the programme into London and the UK regions.

• Springboard has been funded by NESTA and angel investors from Cambridge and elsewhere in the UK and overseas. See – http://springboard.com/

Accommodation urgently required

Springboard Cambridge organisers are struggling to find landlords willing to rent properties to 25 people at around £100 per person per week for three months for the duration of the programme. This is a Cambridge showcase to the world, bringing newcomers to the city for the first time – anyone who can offer free or discounted accommodation is asked to contact Jon Bradford urgently via email: jon [at] springboard.com

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