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updated 12:15 AM GMT, Oct 31, 2014
Technology and life sciences news from the Cambridge cluster

Cambridge Cleantech launch heralds the arrival of the ‘third wave’

  • Written by Ben Fountain
  • Published in The Cluster

Picture of electricity pylon with sunsetThe ‘third wave’ of the Cambridge Phenomenon is due to get officially underway later this month, with the launch of a new membership organisation for the local cleantech cluster.

Cambridge Cleantech - which has been formed by the merger of two established business development organisations, Envirotech and the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) - launches officially at an event at Anglia Ruskin University on October 21.

A key element of the activities of the new organisation will be a dedicated angel investment network for early stage cleantech companies, plans for which we reported back in May. Cambridge Cleantech will provide a range of “hands-on” biz dev services to local cleantech firms, including group buying, recruitment, legislative intelligence and help setting up overseas, an approach that will move it beyond the remit of a networking organisation.

Hugh Parnell of Envirotech and Martin Garratt of the Greater Cambridge Partnership previously worked together on the GCP’s cleantech strategy and action plan, published in May 2010. That document will provide the template for Cambridge Cleantech’s own plan of action.

Parnell told Cabume: “Cambridge has seen the emergence of an IT and hi-tech cluster and then a biotech cluster. Now we want to see if we can stimulate and provide support for a third wave - a Cambridge cleantech cluster.

“Point one of the strategy Martin and I collaborated on was the creation of a business membership organisation for the cleantech cluster, we are addressing that with Cambridge Cleantech. The second priority was to initiate a new funding stream for innovative environmental companies and that is why we are putting together a dedicated angel network for the cleantech space.”

Parnell founded environmental membership organisation, Envirotech around seven years ago and had been running it on a part-time basis, in parallel with a large number of other roles within the Cambridge business community.

The GCP was the not for profit private company set up as the sub-regional economic partnership for the Greater Cambridge area, with a mission of driving economic development by bringing together the public and private sectors. When it became apparent that its funding streams would be cut following the Conservative government’s public sector reforms, the GCP decided to team up with Envirotech to enact the strategy they had previously collaborated on.

“The assumption underpinning all of this is that there is enough innovation in the cleantech space around Cambridge for it to be an exciting cluster. That is very much my belief and has been for some time now. The GCP’s change of focus was an excellent opportunity to pool our respective skills and capabilities and help Cambridge to become the leading cluster in Europe.”

Parnell will be chairman of the new organisation, Garratt chief executive and Nigel Brown, chairman of the GCP will be president.

Cambridge Cleantech has already signed up 16 of the 20 founder members it wants to attract. Aimed at mature companies, founder membership costs £5,000 a year and brings with it a seat on the board among a number of other benefits. General membership will cost between £100 and £1,000 per annum depending on the size of the company.

“Supply chain linkage is key to this,” Parnell said. “We want to make it easier for the big companies and small companies to interact with each other. And not just locally, clearly there are big companies around the world that would like to have access to the cleantech innovations that are happening in Cambridge.”

The cleantech market in Cambridge already has a value of £1.16Bn, containing 450 companies and employing 7,385, according to Cambridge Cleantech’s figures. Growth is estimated at between four and five per cent a year.

Garratt said: “This is a brand new organisation, but a huge amount of work has already gone into it, from the research that went into the action plan to the regional database assembled by Envirotech.”

As part of that action plan, Garratt and Parnell broke the cleantech sector down into 26 sub-sectors, all of which have representation in the greater Cambridge area. There are 26 smart metering companies alone, Garratt said.

Cambridge Cleantech’s first event, in association with the Cambridgeshire Renewables Infrastructure Framework (CRIF) will take place on October 10, ahead of the organisation’s official launch.

The event will focus on the opportunities created by the Government’s 2010 Code for Sustainable Homes, which mandates that from 2016 for homes and 2019 for commercial buildings, all new builds will have to be zero carbon.

Cleantech innovators could potentially benefit, not just from increased demand for their technology from within the building industry but also from a local levy fund, paid into by developers that fail to meet the standard and invested in carbon-reducing infrastructure projects.

To request an invitation to the zero carbon buildings policy event, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.