In compiling a list of the networking organisations in Cambridge, we were surprised not just by the sheer number of them - at the time of publication there were 47 - but the amount of research it took to track some of them down.
A location search in Meetup, Eventbrite, or Eventility is as good a place as any to start looking for them but it doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story. Some of Cambridge’s organisations pre-date those platforms by a matter of decades and have either long-since developed their own means of getting in front of prospective punters or are happy enough to get people along to their events by word of mouth.
All of which makes for a pretty diverse blend of approaches, agendas, focuses and cost structures and more than a few ‘hidden gems’.
We have split them into eight categories, determined by the breadth of networks and meetups themselves, though appreciate that many of them can be cross-categorised many times over. They are not all strictly tecchie, but they are all entrepreneurial in nature.
Compiling the list may have been exhausting, but it is by no means exhaustive, so if we’ve missed your organisation off, please let us know in the comments section or tweet us.
Business for Breakfast - Cambridge
A private business club, Business for Breakfast Cambridge meets fortnightly at the Royal Cambridge Hotel. It only allows one person per industry sector to join a forum, thus, effectively preventing your competitors from participating in the meetings.
Cost: £15 non-members
Business Leaders Network (BLN) - A great place for founders of growth businesses to meet
The BLN runs discussions, breakfasts, dinners and bespoke events across the UK to promote interaction, investment and discussion between the individuals behind the UK's most active investors, businesses and innovation clusters.
It helps people to grow businesses, corporates to innovate and investors to identify growing markets and the rising stars within them.
Web Page: http://thebln.com
Cost: Individual events or annual subscription, contact company
A business breakfast meeting for Cambourne and the surrounding area that was started in January 2009 - the aim is to provide a monthly networking opportunity for local businesses, many of which operate from home offices - to meet up and present their businesses to other companies in Cambourne.
Web Page: http://www.cambournenetwork.co.uk
Cost: £10 ‘pay as you go fee' on the door to cover breakfast
The Cambridge Enterprise & Technology Club - A networking forum for business people, academics, technologists and service providers
Founded as part of a DTI initiative in the late 80’s to improve business skills, CETC provides a networking forum and an opportunity to learn about cutting edge technologies. It also organises an annual garden party.
Web page: http://www.cameurotech.org.uk/
Cost: Events are free to members, £12 for non-members. CETC annual individual membership is £45: CETC annual corporate membership is £90
Cambridge Geek Nights - Regular meetups for geeks in Cambridge
Cambridge Geek Nights are get-togethers of geeks from in and around the Cambridge area. They meet up every couple of months, discuss all things tech, have a couple of drinks, and generally geek out of an evening.
Events are free to attend, with no need to register, just turn up on the night.
Web page: http://cambridgegeeknights.net/
Cambridge Network - Cambridge ideas change the world
The daddy of them all - or most of them. A network of technology businesses and universities in Cambridge, Cambridge Network organises a range of open meetings, training workshops, networking events and special interest groups, as well as offering a news, events and recruitment portal.
Web page(s): www.cambridgenetwork.co.uk/
Cost: Under new fee structure due October 2011: Annual fee of £50+VAT for an individual membership through to £500 for companies with up to 50 staff. Details can be found here (PDF).
Cambridge Product Management Network - A space for technology product management
A group of technology professionals from the Cambridge area, CPM aims to share knowledge and best practice in product management.
Web page(s): http://product-management.ning.com/
Cost: Varies by event
Cambridge Silicon Fen techmeetup
A meetup group for Cambridge-based “startups, entrepreneurs & techies.”
Web page: www.meetup.com/Cambridge-Silicon-Fen/
Cambridge Tech Meetup
Recently ‘renewed’ and reinvigorated, Cambridge Tech Meetup consists of seven minute demos of Cambridge technologies, hardware and software, at various stages of development.
Web page: www.meetup.com/Cambridge-Tech-Meetup/
Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce - Helping businesses become more successful at what they do with over 150 networking events a year and cost-saving membership benefits.
‘Your local chambers of commerce’ is a global phrase and the first business network most people will have heard of. Providing networking, seminars and promotion, this one calls itself the Ultimate Business Network.
Web Page: http://www.cambridgeshirechamber.co.uk
Cost: Standard membership from £190+VAT for individual to £1140+VAT for companies with 501+ staff
CamCreative - Embracing the magnificently diverse groups and talented individuals of the Cambridgeshire creative industry.
Embraces a diverse group of creative industry sub-sectors, including graphic and web design, media of all kinds, visual arts, performing arts and general culture, bringing together a mix of large and small firms. Meetups take place on the last Wednesday of each month.
Web page(s): www.camcreative.net/
CaMedia - Society for media and creative industries professionals in Cambridgeshire.
The group’s main focus is on creative entrepreneurship. Speaker meetings and discussion groups around the theme of intellectual property management and marketing, business models and funding for creative businesses. Networking, talks and other personal and biz dev initiatives.
Web page(s): http://camedia.ning.com/
CamJelly - Weekly coworking in Cambridge
A casual coworking event, “where freelancers, home workers, contractors and small business owners meet in order to get out of their normal space, meet some new people and work together in a social environment.” Held weekly at ideaSpace between 1pm & 4pm on Friday afternoons. A free cold beer on offer afterwards.
Web page(s): http://camjelly.eventbrite.com/
Cost: Free (as in beer)
CamTechNet - Connecting the Cambridge technology communities
A more informal and relaxed approach to the business of networking and skills workshops. Also publishes tech jobs and events in the Cambridge area. Organises Cambridge Startup Weekend, Pitch and Mix Meetup, Pitch and Mix Masterclasses, Skills Bazaar and Creating Cambridge.
Web page(s): www.camtechnet.info/
Cost: Varies on event
CHASE (Cambridge Hightech Association)
As far as we can see, CHASE, an association of SMEs in the area, is the first technology network established in Cambridge. It was founded in 1987 and has held monthly talks by local entrepreneurs ever since.
Membership comprises some 50 enterprises and individuals and covers a wide range of activities, including computing, electronics, communications, biotechnology, as well as support services such as patent agents, accountants and lawyers.
Web page: http://www.chase.org.uk/
Cost: Annual membership £20, monthly meetings free.
Connected Cambridge - Linking Cambridge to the world
Founded by former Cambridge Network chief executive, Peter Hewkin, Connected Cambridge organises a regular series of talks by leading technologists and entrepreneurs from Cambridge: Entrepreneurs on the Move. Prides itself on being friendly and welcoming.
Web page(s): www.connectedcambridge.com/
Cost: Contribution of £5 invited for events.
An aggregation of groups, coming together to organise events across all the Cambridge networks.
Web page: http://www.creatingcambridge.org
The Inspired Group - Using the power of peer groups for business growth
The Inspired Group is a collection of people who gather to share ideas, skills, expertise and knowledge, both face to face and on-line. On-line activities encompass people from all over the world. Face to face meetings are held in Cambridgeshire.
Web Page: theinspiredgroup.com/
Cost: No membership fee, attendees pay for the events they attend.
Junior Chamber Cambridge - A worldwide network of young active people
JCI Cambridge is the local branch of the Junior Chamber International (JCI), a global network for young business professionals in their 20s and 30s. Organises networking, seminars, special interest groups, social events and training.
Web Page: www.jcicambridge.org.uk/
Cost: £96 per year for standard membership or £40 for students
Profit Dojo - The art of good business
Profit Dojo offers monthly networking events aimed at putting business owners in touch with like minded people interested in knowing each other, growing their network and generating more business for their respective organisations.
The network events, which include a ‘rich’ breakfast, usually start at 7am and finishing at 8:15. They are usually followed by an hour long business coaching workshop.
Web Page: http://www.profitdojo.com/networking/
Cost: Breakfast is £10, the workshop complimentary.
Puntcon - Conferences are fun, but don’t have ducklings. Or champagne.
PuntCon is an annual social event for the Cambridge geekery. On its last sign up page, it says: "Conferences are fun, but don’t have ducklings. Or champagne. So the legendary Geek Punt Picnic has morphed into PuntCon, the Cambridge leg of the alternative conference circuit.
“In keeping with tradition there will be no talks, no presentations, no agenda and nothing to disturb the quiet delights of the river on a Sunday afternoon. But apart from that, it’s a conference and therefore probably tax-deductible."
Web page: http://puntcon2011-eorg.eventbrite.com/
Cost: Punt cost split between participants
Envirotech - Business Support for Environmental Solutions Companies
EnviroTech is the collective name for a range of partner companies that provide goods and services tailored to the needs of energy and environmental technology innovators, investors and providers. The EnviroTech Network aims to provide cost-effective access to a very high level of service and procurement opportunities.
Web page: www.envirotechuk.org/
Green Enterprise Community
A not-for-profit community of people who share a green ethos, working together in a supportive, creative and collaborative way to help each other build green enterprises.
Activities include: speaker events, creative workshops, opportunities to provide and receive mentoring, and a website to help build connections.
Web page: http://www.green-enterprise.org/
Cambridge Friendship Club
The Cambridge Friendship Club is a collection of independent game developers who gather together once a week at CB2 in Cambridge for meet-ups and game development jams. Throughout the year they also organise a selection of game jams.
Web Page: http://cambridgeindies.com
Creative Front - The noisy voice for the creative industries in Cambridgeshire
Creative Front Cambridgeshire supports and promotes creative practitioners and creative businesses.
It supports a number of Special Interest Groups which reflect the specific needs and agendas of the creative industries’ sub-sectors in Cambridgeshire. These might be specific to a sub-sector or a cross-discipline business agenda.
Web page: http://www.creativefront.org
Games Eden - The games industry networking group for the East of England
Games Eden exists to promote and support the digital games entertainment community in the East of England and to establish a lasting network to inform and discuss the latest developments and opportunities in the industry.
Web page: http://www.gameseden.co.uk
Cost: From £20 for an individual to £500 for a company with 50+ staff
CUE - Vision to succeed
Cambridge University Entrepreneurs (CUE) exists to promote and nurture entrepreneurship in Cambridge and beyond. It runs one of the most successful student-run business creation competitions in the world, the £5k Challenge, which is split into three phases, starting with 20 £100 prizes, then 10 £1k prizes before offering six prizes of £5k.
In total it has awarded £550k in over the last 10 years and claims its alumni companies are worth £42m and has evolved into a key part of the University's ecosystem for supporting and accelerating entrepreneurship and innovation over the past 12 years.
Web page: http://www.cue.org.uk/
CUTEC - Connect. Be inspired. Create.
A wide variety of specialist surgeries, workshops and events, all with the aim of bringing the business and academic worlds together. It’s flagship event is the well-established Technology Ventures Conference, a top class event that tends to bring leading industry figures and aspiring entrepreneurs together, managing to stay relevant for both.
Web page: http://cutec.org/
Enterprise Tuesday is a series of free evening lectures and networking sessions delivered by the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning. Running since 1999, it is the most popular non-assessed programme within the University, but is in fact open to the general Cambridge business community..
It aims to introduce participants to the world of business, as well as encourage and inspire them to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions. It does this by bringing in many of the biggest names from the Cambridge entrepreneurship community, both old and new and delivering priceless advice.
Makespace - The community’s inventing shed
In the process of securing a physical location for its activities, Makespace will use a full-equipped FabLab as the “focal point for the creative energy and engineering ability within Cambridge.” Organises regular meetup groups and is collaborating with the Centre for Computing History on the Hackers Delight Weekender.
Web page(s): makespace.org/
Cost: Meetups are free
Pitch and Mix - Connect with the Cambridge innovators
“Pitch if you like. Mix all you want.” Pitch and Mix meets every Thursday morning at Clowns in Cambridge. Everybody introduces themselves quickly and the those that want to talk about what they’re doing deliver a 3 minute pitch, followed by a longer presentation or discussion. It also now runs a monthly Pitch and Mix Masterclass.
Web Page: http://www.meetup.com/CamPitchMix/
One Nucleus - ‘The business catalyst for the Life Sciences’
Just the one here, a membership organisation for international healthcare and life science organisations in Cambridge and London. Created the following the merger of ERBI and LBN in April 2010. Networking, group purchasing and training.
Web page: www.onenucleus.com/
Cost: From £155 + VAT for an individual to £5,200 + VAT for gold membership for a company with over 150 employees.
MOBILE and WIRELESS
Cambridge Mobile App Group - A monthly meeting at The Fountain in Cambridge. Informal and friendly, with a central talk on a varying theme each month. A forum to share tips on coding and marketing apps. Sponsorship from Red Gate provides a fee drink for attendees.
Cambridge Wireless - ‘Network, collaborate, innovate’
A network of companies from Cambridge and beyond involved in the development and application of wireless techs. Organises special interest groups, networking dinners, educational events and biz dev events as well as the annual Future of Wireless International Conference and the Discovering Start-Ups initiative.
Web page(s): www.cambridgewireless.co.uk
Cost: Annual fee of £100 for micro companies through to £1000 for companies with over 100 staff (all plus VAT) for basic membership.
The Cambridge NetSquared - Promoting using technology for social good in Cambridge.
Net2Camb is a free monthly event for people in and around Cambridge who interested in using web or mobile technology for social good. The events showcases successful projects and platforms and developing technologies, as well as giving people the opportunity to collaborate on new projects.
Web page: www.meetup.com/Net2Camb/
SOFTWARE and WEB
Cambridge and East Anglia Python Users Group
CamPUG meetings are held at 7.30pm on the first Tuesday of each month, normally at the offices of RealVNC. Meetings alternate between talk meetings and Code Dojo meetings - see the Google Group for more information about meetings.
Web Page: campug.org.uk/
Cambridge Developers’ User Group - For software developers who care about their craft and enjoy expanding their horizons.
Hack days are popular: getting together to learn about a technology through hands-on coding. Non- developers can only join the group and attend socials by requesting to become a sponsor.
Web page: www.camdug.com/
Cambridge Enterprise Search Group
Discussion and networking group for anyone developing or planning to use any search technology, be it open source, commercial closed source, appliance-based or simply theoretical. Regular talks about new developments in enterprise search and related fields.
Cambridge Java Group
This group realised that there is a high concentration of people doing interesting things with Java in Cambridge and surmised (correctly) that they might want to get together once in a while. The group covers Java and related technologies including Spring, Groovy/Grails, Scala, Clojure , TDD and BDD with Java and more.
Web page: www.meetup.com/Cambridge-Java-Group/
CambMacDev - Get together for Mac, iPhone and iPad developers in Cambridge
A monthly meet up of Cambridge based Macintosh and iPhone developers. Meetings usually take place at 11am on the first Saturday of each month, in Borders’ coffee shop. Get in touch with organisers through the Twitter account.
Cambridge Usability Group
Founded in 2005, this group is a local branch of the UK Usability Professionals Association (UPA). A group for UX professionals from Cambridge and beyond, go along if you have an interest in user experience design, information architecture, accessibility, web design and ergonomics. Talks and social events to encourage discussion about all aspects of usability.
Web Page: www.ukupa.org.uk/cambridge
Cost: Events are free and you do not need to be a UK UPA member to attend.
Data Insights - CambridgeA new multidisciplinary group for people passionate about data. Welcomes all backgrounds from scientists to pure enthusiasts. Will hold meetings on the first Thursday of the month - first one due at the beginning of September.
Web Page: www.meetup.com/Data-Insights-Cambridge
East of England Drupal Group (drupalcambs)
Monthly meetup for web designers, developers and other stakeholders interested in the open source content management system, Drupal. Events are alternately presentation and networking evenings.
Web page: www.meetup.com/drupalcambs/
EBI Interfaces - User research, design and visualization... and a sprinkle of bioinformatics
EBI Interfaces is an interest forum created by members of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) near Cambridge. The group shares knowledge, discusses ideas, organises talks and workshops, and writes about user research, design and visualization.
Web Page: ebiinterfaces.wordpress.com/
refreshCambridge: “Refresh Cambridge, for city web geeks.”
Refresh is a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of New Media endeavours in their areas. Promoting design, technology, usability, accessibility and standards.
“We're not a secret society for web designers and developers. Everyone interested in ‘refreshing’ the internet is welcome. Even if you just want to learn. As long as you believe in positive innovation, this is for you.”
Snowcode - 'Developers + Snow + Party = Snowcode'
Web Page: http://meetup.snowcode.co.uk/
Cost: TBC, organiser estimates between £500 and £700 for accommodation and food, flights exluded. Conference itself is free.
Software East - Bringing the best software speakers to the East of England
Aims to bring the best software speakers to the East of England. Runs free software development and software business events in Cambridge and the Eastern area. Also involved in the Agile Cambridge and Code Generation conferences in Cambridge
Web page(s): www.software-east.net/
Cost: Workshops and networking are generally free, conferences are not.
Cambridge Association for Women in Science and Engineering - ‘Connecting and inspiring women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.’
Cambridge AWiSE is a voluntary regional network for women in science, engineering and technology (SET) and women wishing to return to SET after a career break. Provides regular networking opportunities and access to the MentorSET mentoring scheme.
Web page: www.camawise.org.uk
Cost: Yearly membership costs £30 (£10 for women on a low wage, £5 for students). Events cost £5 for members and £10 for non-members.
Cambridge Businesswomen’s Network
CBN aims to offer regional women in business the opportunity to meet, forge contacts and extend their skills.
Monthly events are open to women from all sectors of the business community including the professions, the public sector, large corporations and small businesses.
Web page: http://www.cbn.org.uk/
Cost: Individual £50, Corporate: £300
A business networking group for women living and working in and around Cambridge. Informal lunch meetings take place on the first Wednesday of the month between 12.30pm and 2.30pm.
Web page: http://www.cambridgewomen.co.uk
Enterprising Women - We are a national organisation that supports women in business through a network of support services and info.
Membership is open to all women from any background, location, sector, whether just starting out, running an established business, or looking to accelerate growth and take a business to the next level.
Web page: http://www.enterprising-women.org
Cost: £50 +VAT
Women 4 Technology - An informal network exclusively for female CEOs, CXOs, VCs and business angels in the technology sector. Since launching in Cambridge in April 2009, has expanded its remit to London in 2010. Events are run quarterly on an invitation-only basis by Bailey Fisher Executive Search.
Cost: Next networking lunch is £10 per head