University of Cambridge launches roadmap to support future growth of life sciences cluster

Cambridge Biomedical Campus Credit: AstraZeneca

Cambridge Biomedical Campus Credit: AstraZeneca

Connect: Health Tech, the University of Cambridge Enterprise Zone, has today launched a roadmap, ’Creating a University Enterprise Zone for Cambridge across the life and physical sciences’, that examines the challenges faced in futureproofing and sustaining the growth of the life sciences cluster to maintain Cambridge as a global centre of excellence for health tech.


Cambridge has a deep and rich history of discovery and collaboration, and its interdisciplinary environment is the perfect testbed for new models of innovation in the life sciences

Andy Neely


The roadmap sets out a clear plan to create a bridge between two of Cambridge’s historical strengths - biomedical research and cutting-edge technology - and bring these specialisms together to develop new treatments and health tech with real world applications. The solutions in the roadmap are scalable beyond Cambridge and also applicable to other disciplines and sectors.

Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations at the University of Cambridge, said: "Cambridge has a deep and rich history of discovery and collaboration, and its interdisciplinary environment is the perfect testbed for new models of innovation in the life sciences. Our roadmap sets out a plan to do just that and will ensure that Cambridge remains a global leader in health technology into the next generation.

"This will require us to pioneer new ways of working and creating connections between different institutions across disciplines, be they academic or private enterprise. Such a model has been proven to work at a small scale - our proposal in the roadmap is to scale this up and apply it across the cluster and beyond."

The University sits at the heart of the so-called ’Cambridge cluster’, in which more than 5,300 knowledge-intensive firms employ more than 67,000 people and generate £18 billion in turnover. Cambridge has the highest number of patent applications per 100,000 residents in the UK.

The mission of the University is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. This includes cultivating and delivering excellent research and world-leading innovation and training of the next generation of highly skilled researchers and entrepreneurs, thereby underpinning the UK’s economic growth and competitiveness.

Professor Tony Kouzarides, Director of the Milner Therapeutics Institute at the University of Cambridge, said: "The pandemic has clearly shown the importance of rapid innovation in healthcare. We are determined to harness the power of innovation, creativity and collaboration in Cambridge, and apply this towards solving some of the biggest medical challenges facing the country, and the world."

The Connect: Health Tech roadmap is a result of consultation with major stakeholders and a series of road-mapping workshops with the Cambridge community. It aims to shape the future success of the Cambridge cluster in health tech through a supportive and dynamic ecosystem that aligns with the needs of the community.

The roadmap includes ambitious steps to build strong foundations for the Cambridge cluster for the next 20 years and will support the region’s economic recovery post-pandemic and bring cutting-edge research, businesses and innovators together to be better prepared and connected for the future. Connect: Health Tech will also increase access to the Cambridge ecosystem extending reach and helping to level up growth and investment across the East of England and the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

One of the major recommendations in the report is to create and foster connectivity at the interface between medicine and technology and across sectors. This recommendation has been piloted by expanding the Cambridge cluster from a physical community to a digital one.

The COVID19 pandemic has required the creation of an innovative model of access and navigation to Cambridge. The digital platform simplifies navigation of the Cambridge research community and enables new companies based all over the world to access expertise and knowledge across the University with the aim of increasing inward investment in the life sciences. It also pilots an approach to navigation and connectivity that can be scaled up across the Arc and the UK. This new way of working will speed up the development of new healthcare innovations and technologies that the NHS will use in years to come.

Connect: Health Tech is a Cambridge University initiative funded by Research England. Connect: Health Tech UEZ has been created to build a highly effective interdisciplinary bridge between two Cambridge research hubs and beyond: the West science and technology hub anchored at the Maxwell Centre and South biomedical hub anchored at the Milner Therapeutics Institute. The bridge will bring together and integrate a community from across the University, research institutes, NHS, industry, investors, local and national Government, with a focus on medtech, digital health and therapeutics, to create opportunities that will transform ideas at the interface between medicine and technology into reality.

Creating a University Enterprise Zone for Cambridge across the life and physical sciences

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