Cambridge is a city with an enduring history of enterprise. A key centre for trade during Roman and Viking occupation and home to an operational mint as early as the tenth century, the establishment of the university in 1209 cemented the city’s status as a fulcrum for ground-breaking intellectual thought.
In recent years, improved collaboration between intellectual studies and businesses is reflected by the development of the Cambridge Cluster, a high-tech hub of organisations working across software, electronics and biotechnology, many of which began in university laboratories. Today there are more than 4,700 knowledge-intensive companies operating in and around Cambridge and several of the UK’s business ‘unicorns’ also began their lives there.
An abundance of tech is a big draw for investors
For an investor then, especially one that is focused on disruption, innovation and high-tech, high-growth businesses, Cambridge might seem a natural next step for a new regional outpost. But for BOOST&Co, the decision to open an office in the city (having opened offices in Manchester and Bristol last year) was about much more than a proximity to technology start-ups.
“Cambridge is a special place because of the sheer volume of innovation, ideas and intellectual property,” says BOOST&Co principal, Faye McDonough. “But there’s also a real spirit of collaboration and shared success. The city is brimming with like-minded, entrepreneurial people who have a mutual desire to build relationships and support and develop the ecosystem for the benefit of everyone.”
It is a notion echoed by the founder of Cofinitive, Faye Holland. Having developed a rich and diverse business network through the corporate communications business, Holland launched the #21toWatch campaign in 2018 as an opportunity to showcase Cambridge talent, while bringing the whole business community together to celebrate innovations and successes across the region.
“The #21toWatch initiative gives start-ups and established businesses alike the opportunity to be spotlighted for something that is, or has the potential to be, revolutionary. It is an incredibly inspiring campaign to be a part of,” says Holland.
Local businesses supported by local businesses
Nominations for people, companies or ‘things’ are assessed against the attributes of innovation, challenge, influence, viability and memorability, with the awards night in March sponsored by local businesses. BOOST&Co is one of these sponsors and according to McDonough, the event marks an excellent opportunity for the lender to showcase how it can support outstanding businesses in the city.
“#21toWatch is first and foremost about celebrating the incredibly high standards of innovation and entrepreneurship that Cambridge has to offer, but supporting these kinds of businesses in their next stages of growth is a fundamental goal for BOOST&Co too. We want to educate businesses about the funding options that are available, to accelerate their growth and play our own part in strengthening the local SME community. We hope that supporting initiatives like #21toWatch will enable us to meet exciting businesses that we can partner with in the future.”
The #21toWatch awards take place on 5th March. Faye McDonough is a principal working in the BOOST&Co Cambridge office, with the official launch taking place later this year.