The new century began with many exciting developments on the Cambridge Science Park.
A joint venture between Trinity College and another Cambridge College – Trinity Hall (which owns the adjacent land) completes the remaining 22.5 acres of brown field development land adjacent to the Park. Five bespoke buildings of between 29,000 sq ft of 36,000 sq ft have been designed, built and pre-let.
In September 2000, the Trinity Centre opened, accommodating a new conference centre, restaurant and bar. A new fitness centre also opened – revolution@2wenty4. In 2001, a 115 place child care nursery was built providing a valuable resource for parents on the Park. Other benefits also brought onto the Park included 5 broadband services, a park-wide CCTV system and bus service.
In 2005, The Cambridge Science Park Innovation Centre opened. The Centre is typical of the flexible and practical approach to letting arrangements that has allowed early-stage companies to grow and flourish according to their particular circumstances.
Developments have included One Zero One – a £17 million, 80,000 sq ft new-build office and R&D building which opened in June 2008 and has already attracted Dutch electronics giant Philips and well-known software solutions company Citrix.
Napp Pharmaceuticals also has its home on the Cambridge Science Park in one of the most most iconic buildings situated there, and in 2007 three new buildings were completed alongside unit 191.
In 2010 the Park celebrated 40 years of innovation and collaboration, and over the coming five years there are likely to be considerable new developments taking place. Construction of an additional building for Takeda is already well underway at the Phase 6 end of the Park and with four of the old Phase 1 building having been demolished, plans are underway for the regeneration of this original, and oldest area of the Park. Planning consent has also been granted for a hotel and it is hoped that construction on this will start very soon.
The 1990s saw many changes in the Cambridge hi-tech and science park scene. The cluster of hi-tech companies in the Cambridge area grew to some 1200 companies employing around 35,000 people and demand for space increased. Incubators for start-ups were established elsewhere in Cambridge and the supply of venture capital in the UK and from locally established venture funds had increased dramatically.
Fast growing internet and telecoms-related companies and the growth and success of a number of companies which had been at the Park for some years, altered the pattern of space occupation. However towards the end of the 1990s the life sciences sector started to grow and become the dominant technology sector on the Park.
There were now fewer but larger, better funded and more successful companies at the park and more of them were launched onto the UK Stock Exchange. A biotech venture capital fund, Merlin Ventures, opened an office on the Park. However, the origins of companies arriving were much the same as in the past: a mixture of spin-outs, developing new ventures from the Cambridge area and elsewhere in the UK, and UK subsidiaries of multinational companies. By December 1999, there were 64 companies at the Park employing some 4,000 people.
By the early 80s, a mini-cluster of technologies and people had developed and this, plus the attractions of Cambridge as a centre for research, began to draw in more companies. A period of strong growth followed and the Trinity Centre was opened in 1984 to provide a meeting place, meal facilities and conference rooms for the increasing number of people working at the park. More starter units and the Cambridge Innovation Centre were built to expand the range of accommodation available and a squash court was opened in 1986.
During the 80s, several venture capital companies opened offices on the park, including the regional office of 3i, the UK’s leading venture capital company. In the second half of the decade, University academics began to bring companies to the park, encouraged by its success and also because of the breaking in the mid-80s of BTG’s monopoly of intellectual property originating in UK universities.
The Cambridge Science Park also began to accommodate spin-outs from existing tenant companies such as Cambridge Consultants, and saw the first collaborative venture formed by park companies – Qudos, which was founded by the University’s Microelectronics Laboratory (which was then located at the park), Prelude Technology Investments and Cambridge Consultants.
Outline planning permission was granted in October 1971 and the first company, Laser-Scan, moved onto the site in Autumn 1973 following clearance and landscaping of the derelict area, conversion of the old gravel pit dug for wartime concrete standings into a lake and construction of the first stretch of road.
The growth of the Cambridge Science Park was slow in the first five years. The science park concept was an unfamiliar one and companies were mainly attracted to it by a desire to be close to the University’s scientific research. Early on, UK subsidiaries of multinational companies started to locate there (LKB Biochrom from Sweden and US laser specialists Coherent were the first two of these) and the number of companies slowly grew to 25 by the end of the 70s.
The Science Park Story
The land where the Cambridge Science Park is located, on the north-eastern edge of the City of Cambridge, has belonged to Trinity College since its foundation by King Henry VIII in 1546. It was farm land until World War II when it was requisitioned by the US Army and was used to prepare vehicles and tanks for the D-Day landings in Europe. After the war, the site lay largely derelict and increasingly threatened by planning blight until the decision to develop it was taken in 1970.
The development was a response to a report by the Mott Committee, a special Cambridge University Committee set up under the Chairmanship of Sir Nevill Mott (then Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics) to consider an appropriate response from Cambridge to an initiative of the Labour government following its election in 1964. Whitehall had urged UK universities to expand their contact with industry with the objective of technology transfer and also to increase the payback from investment in basic research and an expansion in higher education, in the form of new technologies.
The Mott Committee, in its report published in 1969, recommended an expansion of ‘science-based industry’ close to Cambridge to take maximum advantage of the concentration of scientific expertise, equipment and libraries and to increase feedback from industry into the Cambridge scientific community.
Trinity College was impressed with the importance of these ideas. The College had a long tradition of scientific research and innovation from Sir Isaac Newton onwards and since it had a piece of land available, it decided to apply for planning permission to develop it as a science park, an idea born during the 50s in the USA where the first science park was established by Stanford University.