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2 January, 2019 - 13:57 By Kate Sweeney

Firm that made Cambridge Phenomenon famous is acquired by management

SQW Group, one of the UK’s leading firms specialising in economic and social policy, innovation management and services to support scale-up SMEs, has been acquired by its management in a deal led by CEO David Crichton-Miller.

Comprising SQW, Oxford Innovation, Oxford Innovation Services and Oxford Investment Opportunities Network (‘OION’), the group’s origins are in Britain’s two ancient university cities – Oxford, through Oxford Trust founders, Martin and Audrey Wood, and Cambridge, through SQW’s work in producing The Cambridge Phenomenon book.

That piece of work put Cambridge on the world map, highlighting its transformation from a technology backwater to a growing force in genuine innovation.

SQW now employs over 250 people across regional offices in London, Oxford and Edinburgh. With sites from London to Belfast, via Oxford, Bristol, and Manchester, it is the leading innovation centre operator in the UK. 

It also provides business support to over 4,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses each year, raises investment capital for early stage innovative companies and is a leading provider of consultancy to local and national policy makers.

Crichton-Miller said: “This transaction will enable the group to continue its strong growth of recent years by driving revenues through the continued expansion of our core business and the development of new markets that build on our expertise in enabling accelerated, sustainable growth in SMEs. 

“We have a unique understanding of how to address the needs of these key drivers of the economy and remain dedicated to working with policy makers, funders and entrepreneurs, both to shape programmes and to deliver them for the benefit of the businesses and the economies they serve.”

The acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, was supported by HSBC UK Bank plc, with legal and financial advice provided by Penningtons Manches LLP and Liberty Corporate Finance.

Sir Michael Lyons will remain as chairman of the new company.

SQW – an acronym for the original drivers of the firm, Nick Segal, Roger Quince and Bill Wicksteed – was established in 1983 and operates globally as an economic and strategic thought leader.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Katharine Wright (CFO) and David Crichton-Miller (CEO) of SQW Group

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