48 years of history & 700 years of heritage
Track record of success
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 was urging UK universities to expand their contact with industry with the objective of technology transfer and to increase the payback from investment in basic research and an expansion in higher education in the form of new technologies.
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. The College owned a plot of land to north-west of Cambridge and 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.
Outline planning permission was granted in October 1971. Following clearance and landscaping of the derelict area, conversion of the old gravel pit into a lake, and construction of the first stretch of road, the first company, Laser-Scan, moved onto the Park in the autumn of 1973.
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. UK subsidiaries of multinational companies started to locate to the Park (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.
By the early 80s, a mini-cluster of technologies and people had developed on the Park 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.
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 dramatically increased.
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.
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) completed 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 were 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 childcare 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.
Other developments included One Zero One – a £17 million, 80,000 sq ft new-build office and R&D building which opened in June 2008 and became home to Dutch electronics giant Philips and well-known software solutions company Citrix.
In 2007, Napp Pharmaceuticals completed three new buildings alongside its iconic building at unit 191.
In 2010 the Park celebrated 40 years of innovation and collaboration. New buildings included the construction of an additional facility for Takeda and the development by Trinity College of a new 60,000 sq ft building which will be occupied later this year by Frontier. The 40,000 sq ft Bradfield Centre opened in the summer of 2017 to house deep technology start-up and scale-ups.
This decade is also marked by a landmark joint venture between TUS Holdings and Trinity College which includes the development of a 40,000 sq ft Bio-Innovation Centre – and a 60,000 sq ft research facility.
In 2017 the College appointed Jeanette Walker as the Park’s first Director to lead an exciting new phase of renewal in the Park including marketing, community building and master planning.
Major new partnership
Landmark agreement signed with TUS of Beijing. Park now home to >100 companies employing 6500 people.
State-of-the-art technology centre
The stunning Bradfield Centre opens; construction begins on a 40,000 sq ft BioHub and 60,000 sq ft speculative office
New cycle of investment
The College develops a 60,000 sq ft office building which is pre-let to Frontier Plc
Home to over 100 companies employing > 5,000 people on 152 acres in 1.5m sq ft of buildings
More flexible space for start-ups
A new Innovation Centre opens in building 23
22-acre expansion & conference centre
Joint venture with Trinity Hall sees the development of a further 22 acres - Phase 6. The Trinity Centre opens offering conference and leisure facilities.
New centre for start-up businesses
First Innovation Centre opens to provide facilities for start-up companies.
First flagship building
Completion of the iconic Napp building designed by Arthur Ericsson
Park welcomes first occupier
Founded in the famous Cavendish Laboratory, Laser-Scan moves to the Park
Vision becomes reality
Planning permission is granted for 14 acres
The UK's first science park
Sir John Bradfield, then Trinity’s Senior Bursar, persuaded the College to develop its site at Milton Road into the UK’s first science park. Moreover, he got this agreed within twelve weeks of the Mott Report.
Cambridge's hi-tech reputation grows
University committee chaired by Sir Nevill Mott recommended a moderate growth of hi-tech industry in Cambridge – published in The Mott Report.
Universities engage with industry
Influential moves to engage universities with industry – principally Harold Wilson’s speech on the “white heat of technological revolution".
Land became a tank marshalling yard during World War II and was left derelict after the war.
Trinity College is formed
Henry VIII merged King’s Hall with Michaelhouse to form Trinity College.
Henry VI donates to King's Hall
Henry VI gave the Chesterton Tower Estate (including what is now the Cambridge Science Park) to King’s Hall.