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Game-changing, life-saving medtech innovations from the Cambridge Cluster

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How honing creativity can help you fight back


Cambridge’s social ventures in the spotlight


Investors and start-ups give the low-down



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News and events, including details on the launch of WeWork Cambridge.

08 HEALTH SPECIAL As we speed towards a fourth industrial revolution, new technologies are poised to bring about radical changes in almost every aspect of our lives. One sector expected to see particularly dramatic disruption is healthcare, where digital solutions have the potential to transform the landscape for both patients and practitioners; delivering a much greater degree of personalisation and precision in medical care and, ultimately, vastly improved outcomes. Cambridge is a nexus of the medtech sector – estimated to be worth $405 billion per year – with a globally renowned reputation for developing innovative medical technology. From a company with a biopsy breathalyser on a mission to save 100,000 lives, to a firm cleverly closing the imperfect feedback loop between doctor and patient with the help of AI, we meet five revolutionary local medtech companies on page 8. Also pondering the impact of Industrial Revolution 4.0 is Dr Alex Carter, a teacher at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education. If you’ve ever panicked that a perfectly honed algorithm might usurp you professionally, check out his piece, Help, A Robot’s Stealing My Job!, for advice on how us carbon lifeforms can develop our creativity and abstract thinking to avoid being displaced by machines. One group of Cambridge professionals warmly welcoming the arrival of robots in their workplace is the so-called ‘SMART’ team at Nuffield Hospital, a group of elite surgeons utilising the Mako robotic arm in surgery. A hundred successful, robot-powered operations in, we speak to these practitioners to hear how this tech is transforming their work on page 17. We also get more advice on investing in the Cambridge ecosystem – this time focusing on crowdfunding – on page 28, speak Cambridge-based e-bike makers Flit about their phenomenal Kickstarter success on page 32, and bring you the latest Cambridge tech news on page 36. Enjoy the issue and look out for number 4, out in November.

Cambridge medtech entrepreneurs share their game-changing innovations.


 uffield Hospital’s elite team of surgeons give N their view on the Mako robotic surgeon’s arm.


Charlotte Phillips speaks to local companies about creating a happy, healthy workforce.

24 HELP, A ROBOT’S STEALING MY JOB! Dr Alex Carter considers how human creativity might be able to help us beat our robot usurpers.


Local start-ups give us their pitch. Up this month: Cambridge Cancer Genomics.


Anna Lawlor shows you how to get a slice of the booming Cambridge economy.


The makers behind Flit e-bikes share their remarkable Kickstarter story, offering advice for other would-be crowdfunders.

34 THE BIG 3

Matthew Cleevely, founder of 10to8, on the three professionals integral to his success.


The latest news from the fizzing Cambridge Cluster.



The Cambridge social ventures making an impact.


The owners of Cambridge’s restaurant on a bus share their journey so far.

EDITOR IN CHIEF Nicola Foley 01223 499459 CHIEF SUB EDITOR Beth Fletcher SENIOR SUB EDITOR Siobhan Godwood SUB EDITOR Felicity Evans JUNIOR SUB EDITOR Elisha Young

CONTRIBUTORS Alex Carter, Anna Lawlor, Charlotte Phillips, Eric Mayes, Matthew Cleevely, Matthew Gooding @cambscatalyst

Eric Snaith, owner of Eric’s fish and chip shops, on his recipe for success.




AD MANAGER Sam Scott-Smith 01223 499457 SALES MANAGER Krishan Parmar 01223 499457 MANAGING DIRECTORS Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck

DESIGN DIRECTOR Andy Jennings EDITORIAL DESIGN Alan Gray, Emily Lancaster, Bruce Richardson AD PRODUCTION Man-Wai Wong

01223 499450

CAMBRIDGE CATALYST IS A MAGAZINE BY BRIGHT PUBLISHING, MAKERS OF CAMBRIDGE EDITION CAMBRIDGE CATALYST Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire CB22 3HJ, 01223 499450 All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of the publishers. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of CAMBRIDGE CATALYST or Bright Publishing Ltd, which do not accept any liability for loss or damage. Every effort has been made to ensure all information is correct. CAMBRIDGE CATALYST is a free publication that is distributed in Cambridge and the surrounding area.

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We explore business spaces in the area, from co-working hubs to conference venues.


Restaurant Twenty-Two review, what’s on and Christmas party inspiration.

WANT TO RECEIVE COPIES OF CAMBRIDGE CATALYST? Visit and sign up to be added to the distribution list.



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The latest developments in the world of Cambridge business, innovation, start-ups and networking

Apprenticeship scheme launches to plug skills gap Home to over 1500 technology-based firms employing some 57,000 people, the so-called Silicon Fen generates an annual revenue of more than £13 billion, making it Europe’s largest tech cluster. As the sector continues to boom, the need for a better trained and qualified future generation of workers becomes ever-more pressing – which is where the new Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) apprentice service comes into play. The initiative was launched this summer with a goal of creating more than 400 new apprenticeships across Greater Cambridge, welcoming students of any subject but particularly those in sought-after STEM disciplines. It will be managed by Form the Future CIC and Cambridge Regional College (CRC), helping young people in education find, apply for and secure positions, with a wider aim of challenging preconceptions about apprenticeships, such as who can sign up and the types available. Cambridge Regional College will support businesses by helping them to establish how their skills gaps could be filled with apprentices, and how to



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tackle issues such as charges and grants, while Form the Future will be responsible for communicating the service to students and parents, highlighting the opportunities that apprenticeships can provide. It will also help students get onto schemes with employers via group work, careers fairs and provision of oneto-one preparation. As part of the service, new website will enable candidates to register interest and enable employers to promote apprenticeship opportunities. “Apprenticeships are not only a tremendous opportunity for young learners to start a great career, they’re important in improving social mobility,” comments Anne Bailey, co-founder and director of Form the Future CIC. “As a facilitator of this service, we have three vital roles. Firstly, in raising awareness; secondly, in demystifying apprenticeships for students and their parents or carers and, thirdly, in helping students identify the apprenticeships they want, and managing their expectations and preparing them for interviews.”

The need for a better trained and qualified future generation of workers becomes ever-more pressing – which is where the new GCP apprentice service comes into play”

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THE DAWN OF THE DATA AGE What opportunities does big data provide in the 21st century? Find out at The Dawn of the Data Age, an event hosted by Cambridge Enterprise & Technology Club (CETC) on 17 October. Taking place at Metro Bank in the city centre, it features speakers including data scientist Ben Green, Noel Craven from LGT Vestra, and Martin Brown from Geospock. The event begins at 6pm and tickets are £15.

WeWork Cambridge launches WeWork, a global network of co-working hubs, is due to open the doors to a new Cambridge outpost in October. Located at 50-60 Station Road, this sleek new facility has capacity for 1000 members spread across three floors, and looks set to become a favourite for the city’s mobile workers and start-ups. Since starting life in New York in 2010, WeWork has expanded into cities from Beijing to Brisbane, now managing more than 800 workspaces globally. WeWork Cambridge is located at the

CB1 Business Centre, a stone’s throw from the train station, and will offer a conference room, event spaces, lounges and private offices, plus hotdesking available from £250 per month. Amenities include on-site showers, sound-proofed booths for phone conversations, refreshment stations and stylish common areas. You can also expect a mixture of professional and social events, from thought-leadership panels to cheese tastings.

AGRI-TECH WEEK 2019 Celebrating innovation across the sector, Agri-Tech Week takes place 4 to 8 November, yielding a busy programme of events, visits, workshops and discussions at venues across East Anglia. An opportunity to meet new collaborators, customers and partners, the event includes AgriTech East’s REAP conference on 6 November. Taking place at the Rowley Mile Conference Centre in Newmarket, this day-long event will

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explore how the concept of ‘One Agriculture’ (an integrated approach to harnessing innovations) could help farmers and growers fulfil their roles as producers of food, suppliers of green energy and bio-based materials, and custodians of the countryside. Elsewhere on the programme, topics including innovation in hydroponics, GPS monitoring for livestock, irrigation and more will be in the spotlight.



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AUDACIOUS MOBILE NETWORK POWERED BY CAMBRIDGE TECH Audacious, a new mobile phone network that offers a solution for users with a range of hearing needs, launched in the UK in August. Providing a personalised service for those with hearing loss, the company’s mission is to make calls clearer – serving the 67% of Brits who struggle to hear when making phone calls – and utilising pioneering tech that tailors people’s calls based on their unique hearing profile. A large part of the technology Audacious uses was developed right here in Cambridge by world-leading hearing scientist professor Brian Moore. He led the development of a means of accurately testing the frequencies that someone can hear over the phone

and transforming it into an algorithm for a personal hearing profile, which can dynamically adjust the audio of a mobile phone call. The automation of this is fundamental to the solution, meaning there is no perceptible latency and lag on the call. “The beauty of Audacious is its simplicity – you don’t need to change your mobile phone or add any accessories,” explains Audacious CEO, Rob Shardlow. “Simply do the quick, free online sound check to find out how you hear, receive your personalised hearing profile and then order your customised Audacious SIM card that works for how you hear.”

CW TEC 2019 A day geared towards engineers, the annual Cambridge Wireless Technology & Engineering Conference returns on 26 September, this year serving up a focus on 5G. Offering a more technical focus than CW’s yearly International Conference, the event will explore in detail the game-changing innovations that are transforming the mobile



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network as 5G moves from theory to practice. With a particular focus on the engineering challenges of 5G access networks and last-mile connectivity, the agenda will give delegates access to the opinions and experience of prominent subject matter experts from across the telecoms industry.

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As we stand on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution, healthcare is set to undergo radical changes. Here, we take a look at five Cambridge businesses developing innovative medical technology to change patients’ lives for the better



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cross the globe, healthcare systems are coming under increased strain, with a growing and ageing population meaning resources are stretched more thinly than ever before. Technology has long been hailed as the solution to many of the problems facing doctors as they deal with a catalogue of chronic conditions, and now a new generation of entrepreneurs is ready to bring about a healthcare revolution. Alongside the novel devices and apps that will give patients more control of their own treatment, advances in artificial intelligence and compute power mean analysing big data sets to discover new therapies or pinpoint the most effective treatments is becoming easier than ever before. The medtech market is already pretty hefty, generating revenue of $405bn worldwide in 2018, and

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many believe this more personalised approach could soon leave the traditional drug companies and their blockbuster drugs on the sidelines. Cambridge has long been a global centre of excellence when it comes to medtech, with the city’s plethora of design consultancies churning out devices and algorithms to combat a wide range of diseases. Meanwhile, support agencies such as Health Enterprise East and its medtech consultancy are on hand to help entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. Bios A USB port in your body might sound like a gimmicky way of charging your phone on the go, but there’s a serious application for it, which is being developed by the Cambridge start-up, Bios. A specialist in neural engineering, Bios has come up with

"Bios, a specialist in neural engineering, has come up with an interface that allows computers to communicate with the brain" an interface that allows computers to communicate with the brain. The initial application the company identified for this was the Prosthetic Interface Device (PID), a universal port, like a USB, designed to allow amputees to connect a range of prostheses directly to their nervous system. Bios hopes the PID will begin clinical trials in the not-so-distant future, but now the company – co-founded by Cambridge graduates Emil Hewage and Oliver Armitage – is expanding its horizons, looking at areas such as neuroceuticals: artificial



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intelligence-based medical treatments, which adapt signals from the brain to fight disease. Indeed, earlier this year, Bios reported it has created a neural data biomarker discovery platform capable of quickly and accurately picking out signals from the brain that affect our health. It is hoped this platform can form the basis for developing neuroceuticals, and Bios intends to work with partners in healthcare to explore its potential. Based at the Future Business Centre, Bios secured a $4.5m seed funding round from investors in the UK, Canada and Silicon Valley last year, which has allowed it to expand its team and open an R&D office in Montreal, a global hotspot for AI talent. Co-founder Emil says: “This funding round marks a new chapter in our company’s history as it gives us the opportunity to leverage our full potential technically and develop our product for the wider ecosystem. “We have an incredible team already made up of experts from a

huge range of fields, who have come together to make this incredibly complex technology work seamlessly. Their expertise ranges from machine learning, neuroscience and medical robotics to biotechnology and medical specialists, but we’re looking forward to growing the team even further.”

Cambridge Heartwear Over 15 million people a year globally suffer strokes, and a Cambridge startup hopes to help cut this number with its novel device, which can detect the early signs that all is not well in the heart. Cambridge Heartwear says its low-cost, next-generation monitor, Heartsense, is the world’s only wireless charged ECG device that is backed by a dynamic artificial intelligence platform. This clever combination assists the doctor in the identification of worrying or dangerous heart rhythms. The company’s chairman and co-founder Dr Rameen Shakur says Heartsense is able to detect atrial

Atrial fibrillation is a significant and growing problem, and the number of sufferers is set to double by the year 2040"

fibrillation (AF), a palpitation which is often missed, but can often go on to cause a stroke. “It is estimated that 1.4 million people in England have AF, 2.5% of the population,” he says. “This is a significant and growing problem, as that number is set to double by the year 2040, given the obesity, diabetes and hypertension epidemic in the UK and many western countries. “AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and an important risk factor for stroke. Treatment with anticoagulants can halve the risk of strokes from AF, but early therapy

RIGHT Heartsense is Cambridge Heartwear’s low-cost, next-generation monitor powered by a dynamic artificial intelligence platform. It consists of an array of sensors that feed data back to the AI platform, and can be used to detect heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation

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The Closed Loop vision is to put the power of therapy in the hands of the individual, so they can benefit from a truly personalised treatment" is important, so identifying and diagnosing AF and other heart rhythms requires a wearable and dynamic device. Heartsense does this.” Dr Shakur founded the company after seeing first-hand the problems caused by AF during his career as cardiologist and clinical academic. He designed and built Heartsense with the help of co-founders Dr Robert Lowe and Professor Roberto Cipolla, who is a machine learning expert from Cambridge University’s department of engineering, whose father died from a stroke. Heartsense features an array of sensors that feed data back to an AI platform. This helps identify potentially problematic heart rhythms and flags them up to doctors. A finalist in the Fast Company 2019 World Changing Ideas Awards, Heartsense is currently being trialed in the UK and US. “We are currently undergoing accreditation for the device and hope to have clinical devices available in early 2020,” Dr Shakur says.

Closed Loop Medicine Truly personalised medicine is the holy grail for many in healthcare, delivering optimum treatment for patients and welcome efficiencies for care providers. Closed Loop Medicine believes it has come up with a solution that could personalise treatment of many common conditions, combining traditional and digital therapeutics to create what CEO and co-founder Dr



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Hakim Yadi describes as “software as a medical device”. “The standard doctor/patient interaction is that when you’re sick you go to the doctor, get a prescription, then go back and see them again a few weeks or months later to see if it has worked,” he says. “This means as a patient you’re often left waiting for an appointment, and the doctor has to rely on partial information they received from the patient when making decisions about the efficacy of a treatment. It’s an imperfect feedback loop, and we have a digital means to close that loop.” Closed Loop’s platform allows closer monitoring of drug and behavioural therapies, and uses these insights to tailor treatments to the individual. Patients receive a customised prescription that combines existing drugs with digital elements and medical devices. “For example, if we notice a patient is engaging particularly well with behavioural therapy when it involves watching videos, we can ensure they are delivered more video, rather than written, content,” Dr Yadi says. Closed Loop was founded in 2017, and has secured backing from a number of notable Cambridge investors including Cambridge Angels, IQ Capital and Martlet. Its chairman is renowned biotech entrepreneur and investor Dr Andy Richards, who has been involved in some of the Cambridge cluster’s biggest life science success stories.

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Dr Yadi, one of five co-founders of the firm, says the Closed Loop approach could be applied across a wide variety of conditions where treatment involves drug and behavioural elements, and initial areas of focus include sleep disturbance and hypertension. In July it raised £1.3m to fund a research programme looking at a combined drug and digital approach to manage high blood pressure. “No two patients are the same, and our vision is to put the power of therapy in the hands of the individual, so they can benefit from a truly personalised treatment,” he says.

CMR Surgical Robots will be coming to an operating theatre near you soon, and Cambridge’s CMR Surgical is hoping to grab a big slice of the market. The company is the developer of Versius, a next-generation surgical robot that can perform minimal access, or keyhole, surgery in a range of different areas. Keyhole surgery is far less risky than carrying out an open procedure, and it is hoped the rise of robots such as Versius will help reduce the number of open operations carried out around the world. Small and portable, meaning it can easily be transferred between operating suites and even different hospitals, CMR believes Versius will also help improve hospital efficiency. The company was founded in 2014, and has grown rapidly in the last five years, closing a record-breaking Series B financing round in 2018. In total the round raised $100m, the largest amount ever secured by a European medical device business. It has since moved into a purpose-built global headquarters at Evolution Business Park near Milton. Versius itself received the European CE mark in March, and has

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been through various rounds of trials already, including carrying out its first operations on human patients. It undertook 30 laparoscopic procedures as part of a clinical trial at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital & Research Center in Pune, India. The surgeries consisted of minor, intermediate and major gynaecological and upper gastrointestinal procedures, and no

ABOVE CMR developed Versius, a next-generation surgical robot that can perform minimal access and keyhole surgery

We look forward to further advancing our mission to bring the benefits of minimal access surgery to everyone who needs it"

adverse effects were reported as a result of the use of Versius after a 30 day follow-up. “This first-in-human series is a significant milestone in bringing Versius to operating theatres around the world,” explains Mark Slack, chief medical officer at CMR Surgical. “These initial results are positive and we look forward to further advancing our mission to bring the benefits of minimal access surgery to everyone who needs it. This series is part of our drive for the responsible introduction of surgical robotic systems that puts safety and effectiveness above all else,” he concludes.



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Owlstone Medical Owlstone is on a mission to save 100,000 lives, and given the company’s, er, breathtaking progress in recent years, few would bet against the Cambridge diagnostic pioneer achieving this noble ambition. Based at the Science Park, Owlstone is the firm behind Breath Biopsy, a platform that operates by detecting and analysing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found on breath. Changes in these VOCs can indicate the presence of a number of different diseases including cancer, so a simple breath test could quite literally save your life. “Breath Biopsy is perfectly suited to address two of the major challenges of health care today: early detection and precision medicine,” Owlstone’s director of investor relations, Chris Claxton, tells Cambridge Catalyst. “For many diseases, the key determining factor in how successful treatment is likely to be is how early in its development the disease is identified. Metabolic changes occur at the very earliest stages of disease, which means the byproducts of this changed metabolism, when volatile, can be detected on breath, potentially well before other physical symptoms have become apparent. “For precision medicine, because Breath Biopsy directly accesses the underlying molecular mechanisms of disease, it has the potential to provide researchers with critical insights on the onset and development of disease, and to help pharmaceutical companies better understand the mechanism of action of their drugs in development

Breath Biopsy has the potential to provide researchers with critical insights on the onset and development of disease, and to help pharmaceutical companies" and to help stratify patients and guide decisions on dosing,” Chris explains. The Breath Biopsy was born out of the personal tragedy that struck Owlstone co-founder and chief executive Billy Boyle in 2012, when his wife Kate died of colon cancer. She wasn’t diagnosed until the disease had reached an advanced stage, and since then Billy and his firm have been dedicated to developing technology to ensure other patients don’t suffer the same fate. Owlstone’s ReCIVA breath sampling device won the MacRobert Award, the top prize in UK engineering, in 2018. No wonder then, that the company has proved popular with

ABOVE Owlstone Medical’s ReCIVA is a breath sampling device that can detect the presence of different diseases, including cancer

investors, raking in over $73m in the last three years. With its products still in development, Chris says Owlstone Medical has plenty to keep it busy in the near future. He says: “We are focused on continuing to deliver on all fronts for the business: building deeper ties with current and new pharmaceutical and major academic customers in the UK, US and around the world; driving our clinical trials towards reporting milestones; and developing tests, including for drug metabolism measuring using EVOC probes and environmental exposure monitoring to be launched in the near-term.”

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Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital is the first and only hospital in East Anglia to offer Mako robotic arm-assisted surgery for knee and hip replacements. Here, its elite team of Cambridge surgeons discuss their work with this innovative technology ecent investment in highly advanced technology has transformed the way jointreplacement procedures are performed at Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital. Utilising Mako’s groundbreaking technology are a prominent group of orthopaedic surgeons known as SMART (specialist Mako-assisted robotic team), based at the award-winning hospital, who’ve already undertaken 100 successful operations. “The benefits start at the planning stage – prior planning and preparation is always really important in any operation,” says SMART member Mr Stephen McDonnell. “The CT scan gives the surgeon additional information, which they may not have appreciated on just a plain X-ray. I see the Mako a bit like a GPS in theatre, which gives us constant feedback at every turn, making sure we know exactly where things are and that we get precision with the operation.” The state-of-the-art system works alongside the expert surgeons, from pre-surgery planning stages through to assisting in the surgery itself to improve the accuracy and precision of the procedure. “What Mako allows us to do, from pre-operative planning and the use of the robot, is to really ensure we get that implant for the replacement in the best possible position,” adds Mr Graham Keene, another member of the team. In providing patients who require orthopaedic surgery with a full robotic arm-assisted procedure package for hips and knees, Mr Joel Melton highlights that “there are elements of robotic surgery that allow me to plan and prepare in a way I wouldn’t be able to do with conventional techniques”. He continues: “For example, with the Mako workflow process and the pre-operative CT scan, I can size and position my implant before the operation has even begun, so I can take those elements out of the surgery and have a much better understanding before surgery of what I’m expecting to

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implant, where I’m expecting to implant it and how I’m going to implant it.” Also operating at Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital, one of the few hospitals to provide a personalised surgical plan for full hip, knee and partial knee joint replacements, Mr Chris Gooding says: “The Mako has added a significant amount to navigation: it is accurate, it’s validated. There’ve been recent studies, two papers in the last six months, showing it delivers; it’s accurate in the orientation of the implants and for leg lengths, which is often the patient’s concern. It’s accurate within one to two millimetres and, within the orientation of the cup, within one to two degrees.” Remarking on how the innovative new surgery aims to provide improved recovery time, reduced pain and improved activity levels, Mr Joel Melton says: “Why are these patients seeing a more rapid recovery? It’s because of improved accuracy of implantation, better ligament balancing around the joint, and that also translates to improved functional performance in the future and function that will last for longer.” Looking at improving patient outcomes, Mr Andrew Carrothers

I see the Mako a bit like a GPS in theatre, which gives us constant feedback at every turn, making sure we know exactly where things are and that we get precision with the operation" concludes: “In providing real-time feedback throughout the surgery, a CT scan of the patient allows a 3D model to be replicated, so we know exactly what their anatomy looks like. Robotic assisted surgery is a real advance in orthopaedic hip and knee surgery and I think it will come into the trauma field for the future.”

MEET THE SMART TEAM Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital’s elite group of surgeons, known as SMART (specialist Mako-assisted robotic team), are specialised in utilising the Mako robot to create specific 3D plans personalised for their patients, enabling joint replacement procedures with even greater surgical precision. Pictured (left to right): Mr Andrew Carrothers, Mr Graham Keene, Mr Stephen McDonnell, Mr Chris Gooding and Mr Joel Melton



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Serial nanotech entrepreneur Eric Mayes shares his thoughts on bringing technology to market ife rewards the curious. Curious people were the first ones to find food and start fires. Curiosity has brought us everything from the compass to antibiotics, and to finding a way to the moon and back. It has kept us alive and innovating for thousands of years. Curiosity matters. Yet all too often in business, we forget about it. A depressing recent survey of 3,000 employees found that less than 24% feel curious at work, and 70% said they face blockers in their career that stop them from asking questions. Looking back on my own career, here’s how being curious helped me: In the beginning… Twenty-two years ago, I took the daunting leap of going from PhD student to full-time entrepreneur. My scientific education had fostered a respect for curiosity within me. I wanted to hypothesise and experiment, ask questions, gain understanding and be honest when I didn’t have the answer. I took these beliefs with me when I started my first business in 1997. NanoMagnetics was a little technology start-up with a big idea to disrupt the data storage industry: use biology

I wanted to hypothesise and experiment, ask questions and gain understanding"

to help hard-disk media companies increase their storage density. In my research, I had this idea of using a naturally occurring protein (ferritin). I got really excited when I heard the media industry needed to achieve certain design criteria and I thought: ‘biology has already done that’. As the years went by, I became more excited by our technology – focusing my curiosity inwards. But that meant when flash memory – a radically new type of storage – entered the arena, I wasn’t prepared to respond. Flash would overhaul the industry dramatically, consigning most consumer hard disk drives (and, by extension, our technology) to a dusty bottom drawer. Ultimately, it taught me how important it is to keep asking questions and staying curious in all directions. It’s the only way to know your environment and where your product fits in. Understand your customers These lessons came with me when, in 2010, I joined Endomag as employee number one. I knew nothing about Endomag’s area of business – breast cancer surgery – but this was actually an advantage, because this time I could fully engage my curiosity. I asked a lot of questions. I got to know a lot of people. I spoke with clinicians and focused on learning their language and finding out what their clinical needs were. When I opened myself to uncertainty, I gained greater clarity in the business. Understand your market I began to study the breast cancer care environment within the UK. The standard of care had just been updated, reducing the number of lymph nodes that needed to be removed during surgery to determine whether cancer had spread. These lymph nodes were located using a blue dye and radioisotopes, which had to be injected 24 hours before surgery.

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By talking to clinicians and asking questions, I found out that this process was incredibly limited, both geographically and financially. Radioisotopes need to be shipped daily to hospitals and have very short shelf lives. This means patients have little control over when or where they complete their surgery. When the supply chain fails, people face delays for the scans with very little notice. Knowing this, we wanted to build a company that could do better for people with breast cancer. Replacing the radioactive and dye tracers with one single magnetic one, Endomag found a way to prevent surgery when it wasn’t needed, improve it when it was and increase access for everyone, financially and geographically. We could have made technology that eased the transportation of radioisotopes or created smaller Geiger counters, but Endomag isn’t about fitting into a failing supply chain. It’s about disruption and improving accessibility for patients. Our products are now available in over 30 countries and have treated over 60,000 people. Curiosity is the key It isn’t easy to bring a new product into the healthcare market. There are countless hurdles beyond acceptance of your product by your customers, such as regulatory approvals and quality manufacturing. I always tell my team: gain customers’ time and trust by employing your expertise and a strong understanding of their needs – and build these by embracing your curiosity. Business success is never far behind. Eric Mayes is CEO of Endomag, which uses magnetism and nanoparticle technology to help surgeons mark and remove cancerous tissue.



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Catalyst speaks to local companies who put employees’ wellbeing to the fore, working to create a happy, healthy workforce

ellbeing at work is one of those honeyed phrases that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. Who wouldn’t want to have a healthy workplace where employees, as per ACAS' criteria, ‘feel valued and involved in the organisation’ and work in ‘flexible and well-designed jobs’? According to the WHO, wellbeing is about more than just not being ill or infirm. It’s ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing’. And a healthy workforce matters. Without it, says the WHO, companies, communities and, ultimately, entire countries lose out. And there’s more: being happy at work can be literally a life or death matter. A toxic workplace can kill you, says academic Jeffrey Pfeffer. His book Dying for a Paycheck cites factors that can impact your health and longevity, like redundancy, shift work, job insecurity and limited control over your working life. Cynics might argue there’s the risk of turning employee wellbeing into yet another tick-box exercise. And they’d have a point, particularly when some initiatives – supposedly designed to improve wellbeing – have unintended

and negative consequences that end up making the situation worse. Dr Richard Stevens, a convenor for The Changing Face of Medicine, a future-gazing think tank that looks at how the medical profession might evolve in the years to come, cites the introduction of flashy new technology designed to free up doctors’ time and improve their wellbeing. By handing over some of the routine tasks to AI, doctors would be able to spend longer with patients. However, then the bean counters would step in and decide to use that extra time by upping the number of patients. “You have fewer doctors seeing more patients and working just as hard, if not harder, for an encounter that probably isn’t as good for the patient,” explains Dr Stevens. John Toplis, a chartered psychologist and the chair of the Essex and Ipswich branch of he Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, sees wellbeing as a moral and philosophical issue. Some firms pay employees as little as they can. Others take the view that they want the people who work for them to

For wellbeing initiatives to work, they can’t just be a pretty bit of window dressing that gussies up a job ad and makes the bosses feel better"

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be free to focus on doing a good job. “You don’t want them worried about where the next day’s work is coming from and worrying about the roof over their head, so paying a living wage is where a lot of employers are. Some go to the opposite extreme and bend over backwards to attract and retain highly competent and often very technical staff,” John explains. For wellbeing initiatives to work, they can’t just be a pretty bit of window dressing that gussies up a job ad and makes the bosses feel better. They need to be well thought-through, so they genuinely make people feel good about themselves, their work and their workplaces. Fortunately, our area abounds in companies where wellbeing isn’t an add-on, but an essential part of the corporate culture. Care for employees translates not just into imaginative initiatives, events and facilities, but a caring culture that underpins dayto-day working life. Arm, for example, has a progressive approach to leave and flexible working practices, which enables people to design their working hours around what suits them best. A helping hand or quiet chat, sensitively offered or delivered, can sometimes be all that’s required for an employee to feel understood and supported. “Wellbeing for us pretty much encompasses everything that we’re doing,” says Ben Mancini, development lead at Redgate Software. The company may mark Mental Health Awareness Week with some stunningly innovative events, but it’s what happens year-round that defines its approach to wellbeing. One big change is that enlightened employers are recognising there’s no longer a rigid division between work and family life, but more of a permeable barrier. Staff would once have been expected to leave any difficulties with relationships, money or children at the office door. Increasingly, they can raise



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any issues – work or home related – and get the support they need. “What we tend to find is that when people do have problems, they’re not normally work problems,” says Ben. “They’re normally things occurring outside work – the break-up of a relationship, problems with childcare, stress about money problems.” Redgate’s approach is hands-on and focused on prevention, rather than cure. Each department has a people partner who’s there to provide dedicated support for managers. “They’re there to make sure you don’t get to the point where something becomes a problem,” says Ben. “They offer advice so you can talk things through before you speak to someone who may be having difficulties.” For firms that take on this wider, more supportive role, considerable commitment is required. “We’re really aiming to help people climb as high as they can in their careers, but catch them if they fall,” says Alison Hughes, HR director at Cambridge Consultants. For her, the starting point



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Though problem-solving is a big part of ensuring employee wellbeing, companies in our area are also packed with imaginative initiatives to challenge and support employees, enhance job satisfaction and are a lot of fun" was working with a team of business psychologists and around 100 people in the organisation to capture the company’s values. “We know care is a very important value, but we wanted to get that information out to our new starters early on so they understood, although they were joining a relatively large organisation, they were joining a very family-friendly organisation, too.” Cambridge Consultants provides a counselling line – funded by the company – to pick up on mental health and wellbeing issues, and is about to unveil a volunteer team of mental health champions. “They’ll have nothing to do with you in terms of being your line manager or HR, but are there as trained listeners,” says Alison. Where employees have disabilities, the support and attitude of a supportive employer can make a huge difference to their sense of wellbeing. Companies are required by law to make reasonable adjustments, says Ben Lewis. His company, Dyslexia Box, provides workplace adjustments to people with conditions including dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism, ADHD and mental health. The goal is to help employers get the right support in place quickly and sensitively. Often, his team will be called in when an employee is struggling and has fallen behind with their work. An assessor will sit with the worker, see where they’re falling behind and suggest ways of putting things right. Solutions can be straightforward. “For someone with dyslexia who is struggling to read emails for example, a simple piece of £50 software can read their emails to them,” he says. Encouragingly, they’re starting to be called in before new staff start with a company, reflecting the fact that people feel more able to talk about their disabilities during the recruitment process. “We provided assessments and got the ball rolling with employers and employees before they started their new positions. This seems to be

when the employee has been open about having a disability – at or around interview stage,” says Ben. Though problem-solving is a big part of ensuring employee wellbeing, companies in our area are also packed with imaginative initiatives to challenge and support employees, enhance job satisfaction and are lots of fun. Take the ‘Feel Good Fund’ team at Redgate. Its remit: helping to improve the wellbeing and fun that people have in the company. “That could be organising punting in Cambridge, a cinema night or a games night – and it goes on throughout the year,” says Ben. There are also yoga and pilates classes, massages and – a highlight of Mental Health Awareness Week – dog therapy – “unsurprisingly fully booked within about half an hour”, adds Ben. At Arm, the FlexPot – introduced two years ago – gives people the freedom to choose their own benefits. In the past few years, these have ranged from art classes to laser eye

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surgery and healthcare costs for family and even pets. Cambridge Consultants, meanwhile, provides free meals that get people together, as well as Thursday and Friday evening drinks on the company’s rooftop bar. “It’s all about fostering these relationships and friendships that are so important in a working environment,” says Alison. The way a building looks and feels and the facilities it offers can also make a major contribution to workers’ wellbeing, says Colin Brown, director of portfolio development at the Howard Group. The Works, the group’s ambitious development in south Cambridgeshire, is currently taking shape. Its 63,000 sq ft of flexible, modern business space incorporates worker-friendly features like a fullheight, six-metre wide atrium, flooding the building with natural light. “Research from the World Green Building Council tells us workers who have a view of the outside are likely to be up to 25% more productive,”

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LEFT The Works, in the south Cambridgeshire countryside, offers lots of workerfriendly features

he says. There will also be break-out areas, amenity spaces and individual office suites. “It will offer the best of both worlds,” he says. “Self-contained offices with their own front door, coupled with exceptional shared spaces for teamworking, networking and relaxation.” At Incubyte, where budding entrepreneurs and early stage companies work alongside like-minded businesses on a membership basis, the working environment has been carefully planned to make it a thoroughly inviting space. In addition to sit-stand desks, balance stools and anti-fatigue mats, there’s a gym and spa, and a cafe and bistro, with a nursery on the way. For anyone doubting whether wellbeing initiatives work, companies have the research to prove it. Redgate and Cambridge Consultants both survey workers regularly to measure the impact their initiatives are having, while workers helped by Dyslexia Box

say, according to informal feedback, that the support has made a huge difference to their productivity, morale and relationships with colleagues. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that, while many staff would once have kept problems to themselves, they’re increasingly open about raising them, not just when they have an issue, but later on, as a way of helping others who may be experiencing similar difficulties. At Cambridge Consultants, there’s a transparent culture that benefits everyone. “You’ve just got to give people every opportunity to be heard,” says Alison. “Many do come and talk to us and we openly encourage that.” Speak up and, in some workplaces, says Ben at Redgate, there’s the sense that it’s the end of your career. “Here,” he explains, “it’s seen differently – as an experience you’ve gained, which, if anything, will help you in the future, because you will recognise the signs in other people.”



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Developing our creative side is a way to help humans fight back, says Dr Alex Carter of the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) t is broadly agreed the ‘Industrial Revolution 4.0’ is here: we have already seen the loss of quite a few traditional jobs, such as manufacturing, to robots, so where does this leave us humans? It appears we will be performing the complex ‘thinking’ jobs that cannot be automated. What this means is, in essence, a higher percentage of us than ever before will need to develop flexible and creative thinking to tackle a constantly shifting landscape. I have been developing a series of short courses at ICE to develop precisely the skills that will be in demand in the future: creative and abstract thinking. These courses will cover subjects such as the theory, history and philosophy of creativity, and they are courses aimed at anyone and everyone. In demand: people who can destabilise and create anew The World Economic Forum has recently identified those skills that will, in the near future, “form the competitive edge for any organisation”. Its report, Towards a Reskilling Revolution, lists the



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top three increasing skills as analytical thinking and innovation, active learning and creativity, and originality and initiative. The ICE courses will develop all three of these – not only with their content, but also in the way that adult students are taught through ‘active learning’, rather than more traditional ‘chalk and talk’ teaching. Can creativity be developed? While it is generally agreed creativity is not something you can teach, the good news is that, in my experience, a creative mindset is highly developable. It simply takes practice. As a theoretician and teacher, my involvement in developing these skills can only be half of the story. The other half must come from the students themselves. Working in adult education, I am continually impressed by my student’s readiness to develop a flexible mindset and challenge what they think they know. Recently, a student on one of my courses, a retired medic in his 70s, said to me: “I always thought the world was

black and white, but after studying at ICE for two weeks, I’ve come to realise there are shades of grey!” I find it interesting that Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, was fond of saying his success was due to hiring artists and musicians fascinated by technology, rather than computer specialists. I think the imperative now is not simply to find ways of working with AI, we also need to see this as an opportunity for us to grow as human beings. On the other hand, I am not immune to the threat AI poses: teachers have already begun to be replaced with scripted AIs. If I don’t want to find myself writing scripts for robots, I also need to stay agile. This plays no small part in my decision to develop courses in creativity theory and creative practice. Applying creativity to real life An example of the kind of conversations participants in the courses will engage in: students will consider Jackson Pollock’s approach

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FIND YOUR INNER CREATIVITY AT ICE Dates The short courses start with A short history of creativity, 13 to 15 December. Visit for further information about courses, plus a new diploma in Creativity in 2020. Who can attend Anyone can attend, whatever their qualifications (or lack of them), and ICE prides itself on creating an encouraging atmosphere for all its students, whatever their background. There are over 250 high-quality, part-time and short courses throughout the year, which include University of Cambridge qualifications. ICE is characterised by friendly groups of committed students against the backdrop of the resources of one of the best universities in the world.

We need to see this as an opportunity to grow as human beings" to painting – that of creating through ‘abstinence’, ie not trying to paint, but rather letting the painting disclose itself. Novelists can also apply the same approach by standing back from the fictional characters they have created and let them develop of their own accord. Equally, a company director overseeing a new phase in their business might adapt the Pollock approach by not imposing objectives or strategies aimed at mitigating risk, because these same objectives might also delimit creativity. An alternative ‘risk strategy’ would be to embolden staff by building trust and by fostering an agile and responsive organisation.

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As E M Forster puts it, creativity impels us to ‘leap before you look’. You still have to use your intelligence, but you needn’t rationalise every action before you commit to it. As I say, this takes trust – in oneself and one’s colleagues – but also in giving oneself ‘permission to fail’. Not every failure is a disaster, and we are most creative when our backs are against the wall. These courses at ICE are aimed at anyone who wants to understand and contribute to the rapidly changing world around them. They are suitable for people from all walks of life and all backgrounds: from those in the creative industries all the way through to those working in more processdriven jobs, such as technology or scientific research. The one thing that is certain is we are all creative, and we all have untapped potential.

Sample content 1: Creativity down the ages The early notion is of ‘creation’ as something coming only from God; fastforward to the Enlightenment to creativity as something done by a few ‘geniuses’; and then to the modern democratic concept, whereby anyone can be creative. Sample content 2: ‘The throne of agony’ concept This theory, developed by Sally Hogshead, explains the key to any creative thinking process. The first stage of creative thinking is usually positive, with lots of ideas coming forth, followed by a stage of doubt and self-criticism. This is followed by the ‘slump’ or ‘throne of agony’. However, a second wind can be triggered if a new idea is introduced from left field – the odder the better – which can have the curious effect of sparking new ideas, often building on some of the earlier ones.



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Dr John Cassidy, co-founder and CEO of Cambridge Cancer Genomics, gives us his business pitch What's your pitch? At Cambridge Cancer Genomics, we care that each patient has the right drug, at the right time, to beat their cancer. We want to understand what the molecular drivers of the tumour are, how they and the tumour change over time, and how these things affect therapeutic decisions. What’s the background of the company? We founded the company about three years ago. The co-founders and I met while doing PhDs and postdocs at the University of Cambridge and at King’s College London. We went through Y Combinator in summer 2017, raised our first funding and then came back to Cambridge to build out a team and prove our technologies. What makes you unique? Our focus on longitudinal monitoring: we don’t think about cancer as a static disease, but rather as a dynamic, changing disease that needs to be treated as such. The questions we

are asking are: how do we predict and monitor how a tumour changes over time? How will that affect therapy? And how, in the future, do we use that information to recommend the best therapeutic regime for an individual patient? Biggest achievement so far? One is being named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, along with my cofounders; another is being named on Business Weekly’s Killer 50 list. The latter was particularly exciting because of the rest of the companies on the list: we were up there with giants such as Astrazeneca, which was incredibly humbling. But really, our greatest achievement is the brilliant team

The biggest inspiration for us is the community in Cambridge producing great work in the field of genomics"

we have built: 25 very talented people brought together to work on interesting problems. Biggest challenges? At our heart, we are a machine learning-driven company, which means we require a lot of data. The data we look at is longitudinal cancer genomic data, and there’s not really a lot of it available out there. When it is available, it can be low quality, it can be very sparse data, it can be very difficult to work with and it’s also quite expensive to collect. So one of our main challenges is ensuring we have enough good-quality data to feed our machine learning models. Which individuals or companies are your biggest inspirations? There are a couple of really inspirational people on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list with us and also some really fantastic start-ups. One person that springs to mind is Noor Shaker, the founder of GTN, which is a sort of quantum drug discovery company, who I think is really inspirational. But really, I think the biggest inspiration for us is the community in Cambridge producing great work in the field of genomics: it’s truly inspirational to be surrounded by people who care about cancer genomics and its impact on healthcare. Where do you want the business to be in five years? I want the company to be in a position where we have the tools to enable precision oncology both in space and in time – so understanding how and when to give the right drug to the right patient – and I want to be able to use that information and those technologies to find underserved patient populations and do our best work for them. Find out more about Cambridge Cancer Genomics at

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Anna Lawlor, co-founder of Luminescence Communications, explains how you can get a slice of tomorrow’s top firms by investing in crowdfunding

ot all of us can launch our own internationally renowned business, but accessing those early-stage, high-potential businesses and reaping the benefits is easier than you might think. Research suggests that Cambridge is the third best city in the UK to start a business and, combined with Oxford, outperforms Berlin and Paris in the number of so-called ‘unicorn’ companies it produces. Cambridge’s proficiency in creating these £1bn-valuation firms has earned it the moniker ‘Silicon Fen’, a nod to the tech hub across the Atlantic. Getting your own investment slice of tomorrow’s potential giants isn’t just the preserve of exclusive venture capital firms or top fund managers: crowdfunding is revolutionising funding into early-stage companies. Crowd power Major crowdfunding websites, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, Seedrs and Cambridge’s



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own SyndicateRoom, have helped thousands of companies secure funding directly from the public. These websites allow individuals and organisations to invest in (or sometimes donate to) crowdfunding rounds or projects in return for a potential profit or reward. Indeed, Cambridge Judge Business School’s alternative finance research found £4.2bn of business funding was raised via online platforms and channelled to start-ups and small- to medium-sized enterprises. This figure accounts for 68% of the total market volume for alternative finance. Crowdfunding as we know it today began back in 1997 when Buckinghamshire-based band Marillion found themselves unable to finance their planned tour of America. The group took the bold – and now widely regarded as visionary – step of contacting fans via the internet to raise £39,000 to help finance the 19-venue stateside tour. This success, and its

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Major crowdfunding websites, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, Seedrs and Cambridge’s own SyndicateRoom, have helped thousands of companies secure funding directly from the public" repeat of the feat in 2001 when 12,000 copies of their unwritten album were pre-sold to fund its production, spawned an industry that is now commonplace. Cambridge Judge Business School’s research showed the entire UK online alternative finance industry grew by 35% year-on-year, reaching £6.2bn in 2017. Within this, equity-based crowdfunding (where investors own a share of the business) grew by 22% to reach £333m; real-estate crowdfunding grew by 200% to £211m; and donationbased crowdfunding only grew by 2.5%. Cambridge opportunities Different crowdfunding platforms usually offer either equity-based or donation-based crowdfunding. The former include opportunities such as that recently offered by

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Cambridge-based vegan restaurant brand, Stem + Glory, which is plotting a national roll-out. It managed to raise £156,610 from 187 investors in return for 5.7% of its equity, smashing its target of £100,000. Companies on crowdfunding platforms are allowed to opt to ‘overfund’ if they wish, but for a larger percentage of equity (aka the share of the company’s valuation, which is returned to investors when the company is sold or listed on a stock exchange, or by trading that share with another investor). On the other hand, donation crowdfunding usually includes causes raising money, such as when St Mary’s Church in Whaddon, Cambridgeshire, raised money on Crowdfunder for a new roof after its lead tiles were stolen.

Accessing these opportunities simply involves creating a free account on one of the crowdfunding websites, which offer simple search functions by category or region. Donation opportunities typically start from £10 and just require a debit or credit card. Equity-based crowdfunding, in addition, typically requires completion of a form. All crowdfunding campaigns are time-limited and usually money is only drawn down if the company hits its fundraising target. Sites such as Crowdfunder, however, do offer projects a ‘keep what you raise’ option. Crowdfunding platforms earn money by levying charges on the amounts raised by businesses raising money, or from investors if the company they have invested in increases in value or possibly when shares are sold.



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The start-up ecosystem in Cambridge is great and the concentration of companies and investors meant we could test the market in Cambridge better than anywhere else" Current and recent Cambridgeshire crowdfunding campaigns:




Milton Colts FC (Cambridgeshire junior football team)


Donations – £600 target

A Melting Planet (book)


Reward – £2,200 target

Up The Garden Bath (recycled bathtub planters)


Donations – £3,000 target

Zero Waste Shopping for Cambridge (social enterprise)


Reward – raised £13,675 in April 2019

FLIT-16 (folding bike)

Cranes (beverage maker)

CambsCuisine (casual dining)



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Reward – £136,246 raised


Equity – raised £150,000 in June 2018


Equity – raised £750,000 in 2018

Private equity revolutionised Tom Britton, co-founder of SyndicateRoom, created his firm entirely on this basis: to provide a way for the everyday investor to gain access to investment opportunities usually reserved for private equity firms, family offices or high net worth individuals. Britton says he stayed in Cambridge to launch SyndicateRoom with his fellow Cambridge Judge Business School alumnus, Gonçalo de Vasconcelos, because of the compelling entrepreneurial scene. “The start-up ecosystem in Cambridge is great and the concentration of companies and investors meant we could test the market in Cambridge better than anywhere else,” he explains. In SyndicateRoom’s early days, Britton and de Vasconcelos tapped into the city’s network of so-called ‘angel investors’, a term given to a group of usually wealthy investors willing to back riskier early-stage companies (think Dragon’s Den), to help them launch and subsequently raise £1.2m via crowdfunding on their own website. Among some of their early backers was Peter Cowley, chair of Cambridge Angels, and Jonathan Milner, the co-founder of life science firm Abcam. In spite of SyndicateRoom’s success with investments such as Oval Medical

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Technologies (which was bought by US-based pharmaceutical device maker SMC for an undisclosed sum in 2016) and Axol Bioscience (which has raised money in further funding rounds at higher valuations), Britton is open about crowdfunding’s risks. “Roughly 60-70% of all start-ups won’t give their investors any form of return,” he states. “That doesn’t mean 6070% go bust. Sometimes they plateau and they might break even, but then they don’t grow enough to be sold and simply trade year to year. They earn enough to pay their employees a salary, but not enough for investors to get money back.” He adds that investment time horizons are also longer than the three to five years many people think – often “two to three times that” – and that crowdfunders should not expect a quick exit. Show me the money Like all investments, crowdfunding comes with financial risks and professional advice should be sought before investing. Firms raising money on crowdfunding websites are usually small or start-ups, which are inherently considered riskier (ie prone to failure). Research by start-up database Beauhurst for The Sunday Telegraph

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found that, between 2013 and 2015, 21% of businesses that had raised money through a crowdfunding website had collapsed. This is better than the just-under 50% failure rate for all new businesses, according to the Office for National Statistics, but is still arguably riskier than buying shares in larger, established companies listed on the stock market (see Cambridge Catalyst issue 02). Notable crowdfunding success stories include Aberdeen-based brewer BrewDog – which has just opened a bar in Cambridge – whose disciples, dubbed ‘equity punks’ after the brewer’s Punk IPA beverage, now have a stake in a company valued at almost £1bn after US private equity investor TSG Consumer Partners bought just over a fifth of the company for £213m in 2017. Other crowdfunding trailblazers include hourly low-emission car hire firm E-Car Club, brewer Camden Town Brewery, knitting and crochet business Wool and the Gang, and fintech start-ups Monzo and Revolut, which raised £2.5m and £3.9m respectively. On Crowdcube, just six – including some of those named above – have returned actual money to investors, while slightly more than half (55%) of 180 businesses on Crowdcube raised money

Cambridge has a buoyant and lively crowdfunding and angel-investing scene" again at a higher valuation after their initial cash call, giving investors a profit ‘on paper’. Websites that match buyers and sellers of shares in crowdfunded companies have emerged, but transaction charges apply. Vibrant crowd Cambridge has a buoyant and lively crowdfunding and angel-investing scene. Organisations such as Cambridge Angels, Cambridge Capital Group and IQ Capital are networks of private investors, family offices and venture capital funds that help provide capital to some of the city’s most innovative businesses. A whole host of businesses, from restaurants, drinks manufacturers, bioscience companies and financerelated apps all based in Cambridge have or are raising money via crowdfunding websites – giving everyone an opportunity to invest in the Cambridge start-up scene. The author, Anna Lawlor, is co-founder of Luminescence Communications. Additional reporting by Bradley Gerrard



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Flit, Cambridge-based makers of lightweight, folding e-bikes, tell Catalyst about their phenomenal Kickstarter success ave Henderson and Alex Murray started Flit while living in Beijing. Dave, an ex-Jaguar Land Rover engineer and Alex, a management consultant, were both keen cyclists and wanted to work on ways to improve how people get around cities. Inspired by the rapid uptake of e-bikes in China, they believed these machines could be reworked for cities back home. After developing early ideas in Beijing, they moved back to the UK to set up Flit, which focuses on folding e-bikes that are quick and manoeuvrable for urban commutes, but also small and light enough to take on public transport. The FLIT-16 achieves this by being 30% lighter and smaller than a typical folding e-bike. Designed to be electric from the start, it has all of its electronics built into the frame for a clean look and can fold in less than 10 seconds. Built-in lights, the ability to roll it while folded and a custom suspension system take the hassle out of city riding even more. Why did you choose Cambridge to launch the company? Cambridge is the perfect city for Flit: it’s the UK’s cycling capital, with more than

We have been very happy in Cambridge: we're never more than a couple of introductions away from a solution to whatever problems we are trying to solve, whether it's to do with material science, or how to set up a marketing campaign"



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30% of people in the city cycling to work. It�s full of talented engineers and has a great start-up ecosystem with lots of other young companies to learn from and swap tips with. We’ve been very happy in Cambridge: we’re never more than a couple of introductions away from a solution to whatever problems we are trying to solve, whether it’s to do with material science, or how to set up a marketing campaign. Why did you choose to go down the crowdfunding route? Reward-based crowdfunding is great for hardware start-ups like Flit, because it allows us to gather together backers for our first manufacturing batch. After spending three years on R&D and a year working with a manufacturer, we are now confident that we are ready to deliver e-bikes to customers. However, manufacturers usually require orders to be made in minimum order quantities. Pre-selling e-bikes through crowdfunding lets us meet these minimum order targets. In return, people who back us through crowdfunding receive a massive discount on their e-bikes. When done right, crowdfunding

is a means of raising capital that benefits everyone: customers, product developers and manufacturers. Which crowdfunding platform did you choose and why? We decided to launch on Kickstarter, because it has a big audience and a good reputation. Crowdfunding is new for many people (almost half of our backers have never used crowdfunding before) and buying an e-bike is a serious investment, so it was important to us that the platform we used had a good reputation. On top of this, Kickstarter has a large, active community. It’s great to be able to interact with this community for tips and suggestions. For example, some of the questions we have been asked have been very insightful and have helped us make decisions about add-ons for the project where we received a lot of the same requests. How did you find the experience? We initially targeted £25,000 as this is what we needed to finalise tooling and order parts for the first manufacturing batch. We passed this within four minutes of launching the campaign, which was a great feeling! With two weeks of the campaign to go, we were on £112,500, which gave us all we needed to complete manufacturing and shipping, although higher volumes will make this easier. The experience has been really positive. We have invested a lot of time travelling around the UK, doing hundreds of test rides in places like Silverstone racetrack, where we exhibited at the Fully Charged Live show. This gave us the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people. We even had one backer come from the Netherlands for a day to test ride the e-bike! It turns out he was involved in the early development of the Ultimaker 3D printers – a company we admire – and had lots of stories to tell and suggestions for e-bike modifications. Only through communities like Kickstarter can you meet so many interesting people who

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are genuinely interested in your product. What you learn from this community as a product develops is invaluable. Do you have any advice for other would-be crowdfunders? The most important advice is to plan well in advance. Crowdfunding typically requires six to 12 months of preparation. You not only have to ensure your product is well developed with as many kinks ironed out as possible, but you need to ensure you have a community of people who are interested in what you are doing. This requires a lot of outreach and relationship building, which is worthwhile and will help ensure you are heading down the right path. You will know you are on the right track if you have a positive reception when you launch. After that, the trick is to maintain your early momentum by getting the word out so other people can see how excited you and your backers are by

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what you are working on. For us, this has involved a lot of time on the road doing test rides and answering questions, but also reaching out to the press and organisations who can help us spread the message. What’s next? Our Kickstarter campaign closed on 7 September and we raised £136,246 – more than 544% times our funding goal! This was while we were over in Germany for the Eurobike trade show. We timed it well, as Eurobike is one of the biggest bike trade shows in Europe, and we were also pitching for the prestigious Startups Award. Now that our Kickstarter campaign has finished, we are going into production with our first batch of FLIT-16 e-bikes, which is exciting. Our e-bike is still available on Indiegogo InDemand, with the price gradually increasing as we get closer to delivering the FLIT-16 to customers in spring 2020. 



13/09/2019 09:36


Matthew Cleevely, founder of 10to8, tells Catalyst about the three professionals who were integral to his business success

founded 10to8 with three friends and one simple objective: to help make the world more organised. Our software is an online communications system which manages appointments and business services, dramatically reducing the admin time spent managing bookings. With extensive research – and the help of some alpha testers across a wide range of services and markets – 10to8 became available to the public in 2014. I grew up in Cambridge and used to write to tech companies in the area asking for summer jobs. I designed a mouse mat, disassembled computers, wrote machine learning algorithms for medical data, and built a customised accounting database, before heading off to study engineering at Oxford. I returned to Cambridge for some postgraduate economics, but spent more time focusing on start-ups than on my degree!

Despite all the distractions, I managed to start a PhD at Imperial College Business School in London, which focused on policy and economic growth through entrepreneurship. But, by that point, the idea for 10to8 had been dreamt up and it was just too exciting an opportunity to miss. My role at 10to8 is whatever the business needs at that moment, which could be handling strategy, accounting, finance, compliance, fundraising or people. Beyond that, I’m active in the Cambridge start-up scene, advising a handful of early stage technology businesses, and I’ve also got a sideline in managing the sale of technology businesses (I’ve sold four in the last four years). I’m also a director of the Pint Shop.

These basics are easy to ignore, hard to fix and there are lots of them"

IDEASPACE B3 This series of articles is inspired by ideaSpace’s B3 events, at which you can hear from a successful entrepreneur and the three professionals who were instrumental in helping their business to flourish. The events also include networking, with pizza and beer to finish. Visit for details on upcoming events.



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STEVE ELLIS, STAFFORDS ACCOUNTING Steve’s our accountant. His help has been fundamental to our success and our survival. There are basic things that are absolutely crucial to running a business – get them right and everything runs smoothly, but get them wrong and all sorts of bad things happen. For example, suddenly running out of cash, failing a due diligence process for a funding round or exit, missing out on R&D tax credits or missing tax and Companies House filing deadlines, or employees paying too much tax on options. These basics are easy to ignore, hard to fix and there are lots of them. It’s important to be open and honest here and say that I am not very organised, and I struggle with these basics. That’s OK, because I have an accountant like Steve. He tolerates me and my disorganisation, which means we can be effective in doing what needs to be done. We're a good match, and that means the basics get done. From hundreds of thousands of pounds of R&D tax credits, to VAT filings, to fixing shareholder filings, to (at one point) taking the business to within a whisker of running out of cash. Steve’s help in nailing the basics has steadied what would otherwise have been a rocky and potentially perilous journey to where 10to8 is now.

LUDO CHAPMAN, THE INNOVATION PRACTICE Ludo is one of the best mentors and business strategists I’ve met. There’s a old adage that goes something like: “99% of genius is hard work and 1% is inspiration.” That resonates with me as I’ve seen the following in businesses I’ve worked with: „„ Many start-ups spend too much time thinking up lots of new ideas (inspiration) and not enough time doing the actual implementation (hard work). „„ Many scale-ups spend too much time implementing and not enough time thinking about what they’re implementing and why. „„ Neither start-ups nor scaleups are very good at creating a framework that helps them make better decisions on which ideas to pursue and why. „„ There’s always a surplus of ideas. Good, constructive thinking moves a business’ strategy forward and provides a framework for future decisions. It should reduce wasted time, point the hard work in the right direction and focus ideas on the company's mission. It is the framework that builds the value of the business. This is what Ludo does and has done for 10to8 and many other businesses I’ve been involved in. If you’re trying to build a business, you and your team need to know what to do. You need to share and build on a vision with your team. Without this work, you risk failing to build any value in your business as you go about the day-to-day – or get stuck dreaming up ideas. Ludo knows that everyone underestimates the difficulty, size and importance of this task – including me – but it is also what delivers the biggest upside to your business.

STEWART MCTAVISH, IDEASPACE Stew runs IdeaSpace. He has created a brilliant environment and community for start-ups. 10to8 has been through some major ups and downs: we’ve gone from a team of 15 down to core of three and back up again. The right environment is priceless. A fast growing, or shrinking, team needs something flexible that reflects its own ambitions and character. It's essential to attract and build an ambitious team, to keep them focused and to build team cohesion. We found IdeaSpace, and it has made all the difference to our success. For 10to8, without a nice environment of like-minded people to sit next to, activities and events (that I didn’t have to organise), we might not have survived. It would not be currently thriving as it is now: close to cash neutral and more than doubling in revenue each year. Stew’s IdeaSpace provided space for 10to8 when we needed it. For a team of three, it was a lifeline. For a growing team, it flexed to meet our needs. Now it’s still a great place for a couple of us work once a week – away from our very own office.

Good, constructive thinking moves a business’ strategy forward and provides a framework for future decisions. It should reduce wasted time, point the hard work in the right direction and focus ideas on the company's mission"

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The latest news and updates from the Cambridge Cluster

SELFHEALING ROBOTS? Self-healing robots that can ‘feel’ pain are being developed by a team in Cambridge. Robotics experts at the University of Cambridge’s department of engineering are part of a €3m project known by the catchy acronym SHERO, which stands for self-healing soft robotics. Its aim is to create a nextgeneration robot made from selfhealing materials (usually flexible plastics) that can detect damage, temporarily heal itself and then resume its work – all without the need for human interaction. Though that may all sound a bit Terminator, it could potentially be very



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useful in industrial settings, making robots more sustainable, as well as removing the burden of costly repairs. The Cambridge team, led by Dr Fumiya Iida, reader in robotics, are looking at integrating self-healing materials into soft robotic arms. Dr Thomas George Thuruthel, research associate in soft robotics sensing and self-healing at the engineering department, said selfhealing materials could also have future applications in fields such as modular, educational and evolutionary robotics, where a single robot could be ‘recycled’ to generate a fresh prototype.

“We will be using machine learning to work on the modelling and integration of these self-healing materials to include self-healing actuators and sensors, damage detection, localisation and controlled healing,” he explained. “The adaptation of models after loss of sensory data and during the healing process is another area we are looking to address. The end goal is to integrate the self-healing sensors and actuators into demonstration platforms in order to perform specific tasks.” Research into self-healing materials has been going on for several years, and this project could be the next step

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BULGIN ACQUISITION A hidden gem of the Cambridge tech cluster is under new ownership after being snapped up in an acquisition worth in excess of £100 million. Bulgin, which was founded in 1923 and makes components for machines that operate in harsh environments, has been acquired by private equity firm Equistone, which has purchased the company from previous owner Elektron Technology in a deal with an enterprise value of £105m. Specialising in connectors and related technologies, Bulgin works across sectors including industrials, transport and infrastructure and medical technology. It has 92,000 users of its products around the world. Its current management team will remain in place, led by John Wilson, who will transition from his current post of executive chairman to become the company’s CEO. The management team has also taken a minority stake in Bulgin alongside Equistone. Paul Harper, partner at Equistone Partners Europe, said: “Manufacturing is a sector in which Equistone has extensive experience of investing in high-quality, mid-market businesses. In Bulgin, we are pleased to be backing

a market-leading manufacturer with a global reputation for high-performance engineered component solutions used in a range of harsh-environment applications. We look forward to working with John and his team, to build on their fantastic track record of developing Bulgin’s product range and global footprint.” Based at the Alec Broers building on the West Cambridge site, Bulgin may not be the highest profile company in the city, but boasts annual turnover of around £30m. Recent years have seen it successfully develop new cutting-edge fibre and sensing products for its portfolio. Wilson said: “Bulgin has transformed itself in recent years from a component manufacturer to a leading technology solutions provider with attractive margins relative to the wider sector. With its experience of backing management teams in unlocking growth potential, Equistone is the right partner to support this next stage of development. Our focus will remain on providing our customers with the growing and high-quality range of connectivity solutions for which the business is known globally.”


in their utilisation. The University of Cambridge researchers are working with colleagues in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium on SHERO, which is being led by the University of Brussels.

We will be using machine learning to work on the modelling and integration of these self-healing materials to include self-healing actuators and sensors"

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TIME CALLED FOR AUTOMATON GAMES Development of an ambitious new online game capable of hosting 1,000 players at once has been shelved after Automaton Games called in the administrators. The Cambridge company, with headquarters on Cowley Road, was working on the title, Mavericks: Proving Grounds, but ran into financial difficulties. Paul Cooper and Paul Appleton of David Rubin and Partners have been appointed as administrators of Automaton. They said: “Please be

A new academy to train the next generation of tech stars has been launched in Cambridge. The Digital Academy has been launched by Code Nation, a Manchester-based provider of intensive coding courses. Based at Cambridge Regional College, it will offer 12-week bootcamps to equip students – young and old – with the skills needed to get a job in tech. Founder Andy Lord said: “We’re keen to show businesses how a successful programme like ours can quickly create coding and cybersecurity experts. We can’t wait to get started as we train the tech stars of the future.”

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advised that due to insufficient funding, the development of Mavericks: Proving Grounds has now ceased.” Founded in 2015, Automaton raised $10m two years ago to fund the development of Mavericks, a shooter that was due to use the SpatialOS cloud gaming technology developed by Cambridge University spin-out Improbable. The two companies had been working closely on the project. It is not known how many staff have been affected by the news,

Agile Analog, a new chip design firm founded by a team of Arm veterans, has been awarded funding from the government innovation agency Innovate UK. It has given the firm a £450,000 grant to part fund a two-year project that will help the company design more complex analogue IP. Analogue circuits are needed on microchips to make the connection between the physical and digital worlds. Founded earlier this year, Agile Analog’s team includes many familiar faces formerly employed by the Cambridge semiconductor giant Arm. This company could be one to watch.

but Improbable said it would try and find roles for any members of the Automaton team who had lost their jobs. Automaton’s only published game, Deceit, an online multiplayer horror game, will remain live on Steam, with the administrators hopeful of finding a new company to take on the franchise. “The joint administrators are in the process of licensing the Deceit game so there will be no change in the live operation and provision of this game,” the statement added.

Medical imaging company Feedback is set to raise £2m to fund development of a new clinical messaging product. Work on the product, Bleepa, is already underway, and the funding would allow Feedback to refine the Bleepa app and hire a new sales and marketing to support its launch, as well as providing additional working capital. If approved by the company’s existing shareholders, the cash will be provided by the Peterhouse Capital and Stanford Capital Partners funds.

Mobile payment specialist Bango has teamed up with another big-name client in the form of Spotify. The new partnership means that subscriptions to Spotify’s music streaming service can be bundled in as part of mobile contracts using Bango Resale technology. “Bango is delighted that Spotify, the global leader in audio streaming subscription services, is now benefiting from intelligent Bango Resale technology to attract new customers,” said Bango CEO, Ray Anderson. He added: “Bango is excited to support its goal to unlock the potential of human creativity by reaching out to more customers across the world.”



13/09/2019 14:26



Farming is at the start of its digital journey, and Cambridge start-up KisanHub is using data to help growers and food producers make better decisions. Co-founder and CEO Sachin Shende explains how his firm is improving supply chains one potato at a time In partnership with

isanHub CEO Sachin Shende spends his days tackling the big problems around the supply of fresh produce, but still has a vivid recollection of what life was like when he was at the start of the food chain. “My personal story is in farming, software and finance,” he says. “I grew up on a farm in India. My father was a sugar cane farmer because, post Indian independence, there was a big cooperative movement that started a lot of sugar factories, which meant farmers had to grow the sugar cane needed to supply them. “He was also an agronomist who advised other farmers on things like seeds and fertilisers. We helped on the farm as children and I still have those memories of seeing how things worked



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IMAGES KisanHub started with a bright idea at business school, and now employs 40 people at Allia Future Business Centre, Cambridge, and in Pune, India

at ground level. I’m not a hands-on farmer myself, but I have observed it very closely.” Shende and KisanHub now help farmers like his father – as well as their large, multi-national buyers – to manage the food supply chain. “Behind all the global food and drink brands there are farmers growing crops,” Shende explains. “For a beer it might be barley; potatoes for crisps; oats for cereals and so on. KisanHub is connecting these companies directly with farmers, gathering all of the data to manage the supply chain, offering 100% traceability and visibility so businesses know if they have enough supplies to run their factories. “The other aspect is to help farmers grow sustainably, which is really important because the footprint of some of the companies we work with is massive – for example, AB InBev (the brewer behind Budweiser) works with about 50,000 farmers globally, and Nestlé procures from 700,000 farmers.

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KisanHub is connecting these companies directly with farmers, gathering all of the data to manage the supply chain” “This presents huge sustainability challenges. Consumers are demanding more information about how food is grown, and we have global challenges around land use, climate change and the impact of farming on the environment. There is no one solution to these problems, but KisanHub can be part of a solution, because we can help optimise use of water or chemicals, stuff like that. It’s a win from an environmental perspective and a win for consumers.” To serve these different customer groups, KisanHub delivers two different groups of data insights. Shende says, “For producers, we gather information

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about where a farmer’s land is, which crops are planted and where. In our platform, this aggregator view allows you to look at all the farms supplying a company so you can manage the stock. We also provide farmers with agronomic tools such as satellite imagery, irrigation management and hyperlocal weather forecasts to aid their decisions.” Shende and KisanHub co-founder Giles Barker met on the Accelerate programme at Cambridge Judge Business School. Both have farming in their blood, while Shende can also call on his experience in engineering and software.



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Tomorrow's supply chain is going to look very different: plant-based proteins are being favoured by more and more consumers over meat – these sorts of trends will accelerate” “I came to the UK to do my PhD, and after that I worked in the financial industry for seven years,” Shende explains. “This was where I saw the similarities between agriculture and finance – there is an object at the centre and you try and maximise returns. But while in finance there were a lot of tools to manage risk around these objects, in agriculture there wasn’t a scalable platform. “In many ways, the software in this industry is like the software was in the 1980s and 1990s for financial services – we’re just starting the digitisation process.” Founded in 2013, KisanHub now works with a host of big-name clients and employs 40 people, split across its headquarters at Allia’s Future Business Centre in Cambridge and its office in Pune, India. “The Future Business Centre is a fantastic place – it has a vibe all of its own and it’s definitely an environment which is attractive to talent,” Shende says. “It’s the perfect location for us to scale.” Scaling is definitely on the agenda, as the company recently secured

ABOVE Co-founders Giles Barker (left) and Sachin Shende (right) b have a background in farming and agriculture

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£3.4m in fresh funding to beef up its operation. The money will be used to hire sales and marketing specialists and develop its platform further. Shende believes agility will be key, with big changes on the horizon for agriculture. “Tomorrow’s supply chain is going to look very different: plantbased proteins are being favoured by more and more consumers over meat. These sorts of trends are only going to accelerate, and this will change supply chains almost overnight,” he says. “They will be shorter, there will be new crops, and most importantly they’ll need to be much more dynamic. And you can’t have dynamic supply chains without having software and data behind you. If 50,000 people want to buy a Harry Potter book, you can just print them and send them out tomorrow. But if 50,000 people want organic tomatoes it’s a bit more difficult, you can’t just magic them up overnight. It’s a challenge, but over time we want to use software to make this process a bit more flexible.”

KisanHub is based at Allia Future Business Centre, which offers flexible workspace, business support and a vibrant community for those creating change. Its four centres – spread between Cambridge, London and Peterborough – are dedicated to supporting businesses that have a positive impact on people and the planet, offering a place to start, develop and scale. Find out more at

Find out more at



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Catalyst meets the husband and wife team behind Cambridge’s restaurant on a bus, La Latina Bustaurante, to learn how they made their unique business concept a reality atalina Uribe and Nelson Rodrigues are the owners of La Latina, Cambridge’s first bustaurant: a vibrant and flavourful Latin eatery on wheels that’s parked up next to Homebase on the Cambridge Retail Park. “We didn’t have the money for a proper restaurant, so we had to start from somewhere,” Catalina says. “I considered a food truck, but my mum said, ‘The food you want to sell is different, so think out of the box and stand out.’ The idea of the bus got into my head – and Nelson used to work for Stagecoach, so he knew how to fix the bus, he had the bus driver licence. Everything just fit.” Prior to opening La Latina’s doors, Catalina worked as an engineer in Colombia, and came to the UK to study a master’s degree in project management at Cambridge University. Though she enjoyed her work, something was missing. “Having a restaurant was always on my to-do list,” she says. “I grew up with my mum and my granny running businesses and restaurants, working for themselves: I always wanted to do that, but they never allowed me to cook – they sent me to uni instead!” she laughs.

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Faced with the prospect of returning to an office job at the end of her second maternity leave, Catalina decided it was now or never to press go on her and Nelson’s long-held dream of running their own restaurant. She remembers their conversations at the time. “Let’s give it a go! If it works, it works – if it doesn’t, we can do other things.” After long discussions with her entrepreneurial mother, Catalina and Nelson travelled to Liverpool to pick the bus that would become La Latina in September 2016. “It was a proper passenger bus,” Catalina smiles. The bustaurant took up residency in a friend’s space at Quy Waters while Nelson worked on the restoration and Catalina handled the paperwork and permissions, playing to their individual strengths to move the project forward. “He was in charge of the transformation of the bus, and I was in charge of the documentation, the admin that he didn’t want to know anything about. I don’t have any clue how to do handy things – so it worked!” she says. “When I did the business plan, I planned the conversion for three months: it actually took us eight months, because he was working full time, and I had a six-month-old baby.” As the bus took shape, the menu was whittled down to three dishes. The short menu was a necessity caused by the shortage of space in the bus kitchen: “It’s impossible to have a huge menu in a tiny kitchen and make everything fresh every single day,” Catalina explains. “We focused on two or three things we could do from scratch easily without wasting food. We decided to do empanadas, arepas and tostones: that’s it.” On its first outings, the bustaurant moved around to different locations, with customers keeping up on social media, but Catalina wanted to find a permanent pitch for La Latina to call home. “I found a



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La Latina is a family business in all senses of the term" IMAGES (Above) Nelson Rodrigues and Catalina Uribe, the owners of La Latina Bustaurante. (Below) The delicious arepas, empanadas and tostones served up by the couple



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location with the Cambridge Retail Park: I approached them about the space, but it took four months – they had to ask the city council to change the licence – so we missed that first summer. We’ve now been trading here since October 2017 and it’s getting better: people know where we are, we have free parking, it’s close for us as well – obviously we pay rent, but the good thing is that the bus stays here permanently.” La Latina is open Tuesdays to Sundays, and definitely keeps the couple on their toes. The day begins at 6.30am, when Catalina wakes up for a few moments alone with her coffee. She takes her sister to the station, to commute to her studies in London, then returns to wake and breakfast their two children before the school run. “Between nine and ten, I do all the emails and admin while Nelson is busy with his chilli plants in our greenhouse. At ten we arrive at La Latina. We open at 12pm, and have two rush hours: one for lunch and again for dinner, but we don’t close between. We stay open from 12pm until 9pm. At three I leave to get the kids; sometimes Nelson goes. At 4pm our other staff member arrives, and they work with Nelson or me for the evening. We close at nine: if I’m with the kids at home, I put them to bed while my sister arrives back

from London. She stays with the kids while I come back to help Nelson close down the kitchen, get everything ready. We go back home about ten, have a cup of tea, go to bed about 11pm… and then do it all over again!” La Latina provides full-time employment for Catalina and Nelson: as the business has become more successful, they’ve started bringing in part-time support. “At the beginning, our plan was not to hire employees, so we could recover our pocket quickly. We didn’t have any help for the first year: it was just Nelson and me, all the time. That was… hard.” Catalina says. “I was reading a book that said: ‘Finding your first employee is like finding your first love: it’s very special, they have to bond with your business.’ Obviously no-one’s going to feel the same way about your business as you do, so it’s tricky – but last summer we had two, three girls helping us.” When La Latina’s business plan involved moving from place to place, social media was essential to keep customers informed of the bustaurant’s whereabouts: though the permanent site means this is no longer a challenge, social is still crucial to their marketing strategy. “At the beginning we didn’t have any budget for marketing: social media is the only marketing we do, because

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On its first outings, the bustaurant moved around to different locations, with customers keeping up on social media, but Catalina wanted to find a permanent pitch for La Latina to call home" it’s free!” she laughs. At the moment, Catalina and Nelson are hesitant to follow the trend for signing up with delivery services like Deliveroo. “They really want us to join, but they take such a large chunk of the money,” Catalina explains. Instead, the couple find that younger fans of the bustaurant simply call, or place orders through La Latina’s social media presences and pick the orders up themselves – enjoying the personal touch and experiential nature of visiting the bus to collect food or eat in. Like most self-employed people, Catalina occasionally finds the unpredictable nature of being one’s own boss a little challenging. “Sometimes I say to Nelson that I miss the stability of having a proper job, being an employee,” she says. “You get paid, you get told what to do, on the first day of the month the money goes into your account. We were planning to take the kids

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somewhere, but one of the fridges broke, so we had to use that money – these kind of things happen. But we like to live frugal lives: we try to be happy with what we’ve got, and enjoy what we have.” La Latina is a family business in all senses of the term: whether it’s Catalina’s mother providing business advice via Skype, Nelson’s cousin designing La Latina’s exterior paintwork or his parents helping upholster the bus in coffee sacks, family is what powers the bus forward – both in terms of physical backup, but also emotional support. In its first year of trading, La Latina suffered from two burglaries which, though the couple philosophically say they learned a great deal of lessons from the experience, was extremely hard. But it was family that pulled them through. “I remember one day when I was so, so tired – around the time of the break-ins. I was just so down,” Catalina said. “I remember coming back home, and talking with my daughter who was six at the time. I said: ‘You know what? I’m thinking about selling the bus.’ She was like: ‘You can’t DO THAT!’” Catalina puts her hands on her hips and widens her eyes in mock child outrage, smiling from ear to ear: “‘I LOVE our bus! Where am I going to work?’ And I thought – she’s already seeing a future: she’s seeing

herself working in La Latina. That was a lot to me: that pushed me to keep going. “We try to keep that balance: family first, but also keeping the business up and running. Being an entrepreneurial couple and having a business together is obviously testing us in all ways possible, but I say to him: ‘Probably, I will get old with you: we survived kids, we survived the business, so we are child-proof and business-proof – we’re a good pair!” Even a short visit to La Latina at lunch – surrounded by families, office workers, shoppers seeking respite, all tucking into the three delicious dishes served by this hard-working couple – would leave you in no doubt it’s already a much-loved eatery, but Catalina’s dream is to have a ‘proper’ restaurant one day: a bricks-andmortar establishment where they can expand their offering. “Fingers crossed,” she says. “Though I would like to take the bus with me: it’s like another baby! We need the perfect location where I can have the bus and a proper restaurant, too. I’m always on the lookout. Kids love coming to the bus, having a meal here: it’s the whole experience, not just the food. So I don’t want to leave it! We are Latin: I want to have a restaurant where people can have food, nice cocktails, and maybe they can dance with live music,” she grins. “That’s the plan.”



13/09/2019 09:46


Catalyst chats to the man behind Eric’s – a burgeoning fish and chip restaurant chain with big dreams – about the recipe for success




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egular visitors to the north Norfolk coast will likely be familiar with Eric’s, Thornham’s much-loved gourmet fish and chip shop. Set in a chichi cluster of shops at Drove Orchards, minutes from the beach, this restaurant made a mission of elevating the nation’s favourite dish; blending nostalgia and modern influences with delicious results. As well as the classics, the menu tempts with Japanese-style fish cakes, battered gherkins, black pudding fritters and fried jam sandwiches, all washed down with a crisp prosecco or a glass of Eric’s own Seaza ale. The meeting of old and new is reflected in the design of the restaurant too, which combines Formica tables and stripy-deckchair seaside charm with a bright, modern, industrial-style look. After a few years of roaring trade in Thornham, Eric’s is on the march, having opened new restaurants in both Holt, Norfolk, and St Ives, Cambridgeshire, within the last few months. At the helm of this burgeoning restaurant collection is Eric Snaith, who cut his teeth in the hospitality industry cheffing at his family’s hotel near Brancaster. “I grew up in Titchwell Manor, which was my parents’ business and has been in the family for 31 years. I sort of fell into it; started helping out on pot wash and doing the odd day in the kitchen, and just really enjoyed it,” he explains. “I went travelling for a year and when I came back, worked in a couple of other establishments. Then the opportunity came up at the hotel so I went back there – I was head chef for about 14 years.” Boasting three AA Rosettes, Titchwell Manor has earned an excellent reputation for its creative fine dining – but Eric had dreams of creating something altogether different to run in tandem with the hotel. “I liked the idea of doing something that was a complete contrast to our core business, which was at the higher end of the market; something that appealed to everybody,” he says. “And taking the nation’s ultimate dish, fish and chips, but approaching it differently in terms of the quality of the

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At the helm of this burgeoning restaurant collection is Eric Snaith, who cut his teeth in the hospitality industry cheffing at his family’s hotel near Brancaster" ingredients. I was conscious that people knew me from the hotel, but I didn’t want to do a cheffy take on fish and chips. I wanted to do traditional fish and chips, but make them better. When I was researching, it seemed like most places were just trying to work on margin all the time, because it’s always been seen as a cheap dish, but the cost of produce is going up – and we just hoped that people would be willing to pay that extra pound or two for much better quality.” The first Eric’s opened in 2015 after a long search for suitable premises, and quickly became a must-visit along its pretty stretch of coastline. A year or so in, the team realised that the concept had the potential to roll out across more locations. “Holt was always one of our favourites: it wasn’t too far away, it’s quite an affluent area and a lot of our customer base was coming out of Norwich anyway, so it sort of bridged that gap. While we were setting that one up, an opportunity came up in St Ives, which hadn’t been a location we’d thought of. But the developers of the site knew our restaurant and knew the North Norfolk coast, so we got chatting, and

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IMAGES Level up your fish and chips with a visit to Eric's; now with branches in Thornham, Holt, and St Ives

it seemed like a really good opportunity. And the more I looked into St Ives, the more I liked the area.” Set in a unit on a small retail park, alongside the dayglo frontage of mega brands like Subway, the new premises is a big departure from the quaint buildings which house the other two branches of Eric’s – presenting a challenge which has been relished by the team. “We looked at the design slightly differently, and tried to make it all fit a little bit differently,” Eric explains. “There are certain things in the branding that we keep repeating, like the Formica tables and tiled walls – so there’s familiar touches, but we want them to feel almost like they’re standalone restaurants. We didn’t to just repeat everything like some big chain.” As well as adapting the look and feel of the restaurant, another challenge has been appealing to a different clientele. In Thornham, the majority of customers are on holidays or popping in for a treat,

whereas the St Ives site is serving busy workers on lunch breaks and families from the area nipping in for takeaways. “I think the biggest thing is people understanding what we are,” he muses. “In the first few weeks there was a lot of people just trying us in comparison to their usual takeaway fish and chips, but we’re getting to a point now where there’s a lot more people coming in and using it as a sit-in dining experience. And that’s great - what’s always worked so well is that the kids love our fish and chip restaurants and all the little touches for them, but also the grandparents love it, because of the tradition. It’s a good place for all generations. Everybody’s happy with the offering – and that’s actually really unique.” With Thornham continuing to flourish and the new branches doing a roaring trade, is the ultimate goal to have an Eric’s on every high street? “I think we’ll sit tight for 18 months,” laughs Eric. “We want to concentrate on the operations of the business – to make sure the branches are running as well and as efficiently as they can. I’ve always thought there’s really good potential in it, but we need to see what’s right for us. We might just stick with the three. We might just look to expand a lot quicker. But the plan for now is to consolidate for a year, see where we’re at. I’ve always been tempted by Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds and Ely,” he adds, grinning. “And we’ve nearly signed on a site in Norwich a couple of times, so we’ve definitely got an eye on the whole of East Anglia…” Watch this space!



13/09/2019 14:03


We explore Cambridgeshire’s top business spaces, from co-working hubs and start-up incubators to conference venues and meeting rooms

WELLCOME GENOME CAMPUS CONFERENCE CENTRE Sitting alongside research institutions at the forefront of the biomedical revolution, the Wellcome Genome Campus is a place synonymous with new thinking, collaboration and groundbreaking innovation. Where better, then, to host a meeting or conference designed to inspire and spark conversation than at the stateof-the-art on-site conference centre? This sleek and contemporary facility opened in 2015, joining the site’s existing Grade II* listed Hinxton Hall to create a unique events offering that blends dazzling modern architecture with historic country-house charm. Set within 125 acres of idyllic grounds and parkland, and conveniently located just off the M11 and A11, around 12 miles south of Cambridge, this expansive space has the facilities to cater for events large and small, offering a total of nine meeting rooms. Among them is the 1600 sq m exhibition space, an appealingly bright and airy area by the auditorium with a striking ceiling of glass and steel. Poster boards and a bar are included, making it the ideal spot for networking events, launches and exhibitor stands.



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The auditorium itself, named in honour of scientist Francis Crick, is equally impressive, accommodating up to 300 and featuring every AV mod con you could need for an all-singing, all-dancing presentation. For something more low-key, there are eight additional meeting rooms suitable for between two and 140 delegates, including three beautiful period rooms in Hinxton Hall. A jewel in this venue’s crown is the Pompeiian Room, a breathtakingly impressive period room decorated in classic Roman style. A rare find in the UK, this space is ideal for board meetings or silver service dinners with wow factor. A big draw for the Wellcome Genome Campus Conference Centre are the lush lawns that surround the buildings, offering guests ample space for a bit of blue-sky thinking or some

IMAGES The Wellcome Genome Campus Conference Centre is a sleek and contemporary facility, located just off the M11 and A11

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WHAT’S IT GOT? Wellcome Genome SPACE EXPLORATION Campus Conference Centre offers nine meeting rooms for between two and 300 people, plus overnight accommodation and a range of team-building activities IS IT FOR ME? Yes, if you’re in the market for exceptionally well-equipped conference/ meeting facilities at the heart of a world-leading scientific community. The scale of the venue means it can easily accommodate larger events, but for something more intimate in a stunning setting, check out the Pompeiian Room, which is decorated in classic Roman style

Where better to host a meeting designed to inspire and spark conversation than at this state-of-the-art conference centre?" team-building fun. You can also host your event in the gardens: a marquee can be erected for larger events of up to 500 people and, weather permitting, the staff will be happy to serve drinks and barbecues on the patio, too. Other catering options range from finger buffets to luxurious private dining experiences or, if you’ve got something specific in mind, the team will be happy to work with you on a bespoke menu. Another big win for event planners is the overnight accommodation offering, which comprises 134 en-suite bedrooms. From plasma TVs to large

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desks, the rooms are equipped with everything guests might need to do some work and get a good night’s rest, and there’s also a residents’ bar for relaxing in at Hinxton Hall. For a bit of fun after the work is done, you’re spoiled for choice: the centre can offer everything from private cinema experiences in the auditorium (complete with ice cream and popcorn!) to cocktail sessions, casino evenings and It’s a Knockoutstyle challenges. Find out more at



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GRANTA CENTRE In the heart of Granta Park, a techfocused community in the south Cambridgeshire countryside, Granta Centre is a modern, purpose-built facility designed to host events including exhibitions, conferences and team-building days. It’s far enough from the city centre (about seven miles) that traffic is no issue, but close enough to be easily accessible – plus, there are hundreds of free parking spaces. Inside, guests are greeted with the main boulevard, ‘The Street’, where they’ll be met by their dedicated event manager, who stays on hand throughout the day. This is also where you’ll find the on-site coffee bar, Street Cafe, where you can grab a hot drink and chat with your guests (or check your emails using the free Wi-Fi). Whether you’ve got three or 300 delegates, there’s hundreds of square feet of flexibility inside the centre, which can be configured to best suit your requirements. Available spaces include the Abington, which overlooks a cricket pitch and can accommodate up to 100, mid-sized meeting rooms for between 30 and 60, plus smaller rooms such as Linton and Duxford, which are ideal for



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It's the service, the attention to detail and the food that makes people want to come back" more intimate meetings. All have floorto-ceiling windows, air-con, the latest AV equipment, and come equipped with bottled water, spare stationary, and all those other handy extras that your delegates might need (but will inevitably forget!). The centre also has two large lecture rooms, which can be combined for big groups of up to 250, offering an impressive space with four large screens to allow for wow-factor presentations and screenings. When it comes to lunch, the catering options are endless. Whether you want a buffet, sit-down banquet or a quick sandwich and juice in a breakout room, the team will work with you to come up with a solution that best fits the flow of your day, serving up top-quality, local produce. Of all the impressive facilities, it’s the team themselves that really make events here special, says centre

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WHAT’S IT GOT? A bright, modern conference venue in a picturesque location in south Cambs, Granta Centre offers a choice of rooms and spaces, boasts excellent catering facilities and has an experienced team to help you plan and manage your event IS IT FOR ME? Large or small, Granta Centre can accommodate your event, offering rooms suitable for as few as ten or as many as 250. It’s a great choice if you want a slickly managed event, and a delicious lunch

manager Andrew Bell. “Until recently we thought the best thing about the Granta Centre was the venue itself. It is certainly what makes people go wow”, he explains. “But when we looked at the feedback, it’s the service, attention to detail and, without doubt, the food that makes people want to come back.” As well as team members going the extra mile to ensure guests’ events go off without a hitch, it’s also good value for money, with an all-inclusive rate of £49pp for the day, regardless of the room. “The real magic of the Granta Centre takes place behind the scenes,” concludes Andrew. “The mantra ‘keep it simple’ was at the forefront when the AV and catering facilities were installed, and it remains now, shaping the way we go about our business. Everything just works: the AV doesn’t take centre stage in your conference – your presentation does. You don’t notice the projector, the screen and the controls – they’re just there, integrated into the room. Likewise, the anytime breakout room means you’re never tied to times. People tend to ask us questions based on their previous experiences at other venues, and we love saying: “Don’t worry, it’s included!” Find out more at

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We review Restaurant 22, the eatery that’s got everyone talking.

The countdown to the office Christmas party starts here...

It’s festival season – books, films and big ideas all come to Cambridge this month.


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Catalyst samples the imaginative food at Restaurant Twenty-Two, one of the city’s top dining spots

oing to eat lunch at one of Cambridge’s best restaurants is not exactly a chore. With expectations soaring way above the roof of the three-storey townhouse that’s home to this young but perfectly formed establishment, we’re shown to the table for two that sits beneath its signature stained-glass window, gleaming bright against the grey-toned decor throughout the restaurant’s ground floor. Though we’re lunching early, it isn’t long before every table is filled with other guests, giving the room an enjoyable hum that adds to the welcoming atmosphere. We choose



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the long seven-course menu to best experience the kitchen’s current thinking, dodging the wine flight on this particular visit, though I can tell you from past experience it is both excellent and interesting; perfect for celebrations – or simply Tuesday evenings. A flawless opener lands on the table: melting béchamel-style pecorino goodness contained in a paper-thin pastry tart case, finished with petals and alliums and best polished off in a single bite. We’re then treated to the (in)famous macaroni cheese: breaded cubes garnished with a heap of truffle shavings of which I could quite happily eat, let’s say... 20 portions. This was followed by two delicate discs of flaky pastry topped with venison tartare and purple-hued oxalis that felt like a small nod to the imminently changing seasons: appropriately autumnal for end-of-summer eating. R22’s bread course arrives in dramatic style, in a table-friendly sized

chest filled with black beans, on which two precise slices of focaccia and two petite buns of stout and treacle bread are resting – accompanied by a pair of the sharpest quenelles of savoury butter, room-warm for instant smearing. It transpires that my dining companion’s pet hate is the term ‘heritage’ as a sweeping description of all non-red/round tomatoes, so when the amuse-bouche arrives and the waiter introduces the dish as including the aforementioned fruits, I watch her face steel – then instantly soften, as each individual variety is knowledgeably identified by name. This little pile of tomatoes is then surrounded with a consommé made with 70-day aged beef: the startling sweetness and depth of flavour drawn out is testament to the skills of head chef Sam Carter and his team. A neat starter of beetroot (also tagged as ‘heritage’; also confidently pinpointed) is accompanied by fresh

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Every dish feels balanced, with different textures and taste experiences to keep you interested with each bite: it's extremely intelligent cooking and is testament to the skills of Sam Carter and his team"

cobnuts, apple and horseradish. The fish course is precision-cooked flaky Cornish sea bass with fennel, courgette and a bed of crispy chicken skin. Then follows the main course of pink-cooked Dingley Dell pork with black pudding, a strip of scratching and sugar-sweet apricot sauces. Every dish feels balanced, with different textures and taste experiences to keep you interested with each bite: it’s extremely intelligent cooking. The pre-dessert arrives, another laser-precise quenelle of white chocolate and truffle topped with a snowfall of truffle shavings, which feels like a clever bookend to the earlier course – followed by the main dessert, a classic summer combination of dark chocolate and raspberry presented in, again, a variety of textures and styles. A few well-judged leaves of tarragon add a modern, herbal quirk to the tastes on the plate and, though this marks the final dish in our experience, we both

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IMAGES A Restaurant Twenty-Two starter of heritage beetroot, cobnuts, apple and horseradish, and a fish course of Cornish sea bass with fennel, courgette and chicken skin

clear every last morsel – as do all the other guests around us. The word that springs to mind most frequently – between bites of elegantly engineered morsels – is ‘precision’. There is not a single truffle shaving, edible petal or tiny droplet of sauce that hasn’t been considered and placed with careful thought. Miniature mushrooms raised by Jake’s Seed To Feed Microfarm are arranged just so, atop a perfect roundel of venison tartare: Calixta’s tomatoes from Flourish are delicately balanced to best show off their jewel-like colouring. The tableware is stylish without being obtrusive, and perfectly judged to best present each dish, and the front of house team is friendly and hugely well-informed without tipping into being overbearing, operating effortlessly around the dining room. You’d be forgiven for expecting that cuisine of this level means a formal dining experience, but it couldn’t be

further from the truth. Though the team is appropriately smart, there’s a very come-as-you-are vibe to the guests and the room was abuzz with delighted chatter as plate after plate of exceptional cooking was carried up the stairs from the pocket-sized kitchen. It’s almost as though the patrons couldn’t believe their luck at having stumbled across such a gem. And if nothing else, the experience is an absolute steal: “I would much rather go there ten times,” says my dining companion as we stroll (roll) back across Jesus Green, “than eat at a £500-per-head restaurant once”. This spectacular little restaurant is already soaring high in ‘best restaurant’ lists, and will undoubtedly continue to win national acclaim, making it ever-trickier to get a seat – so we strongly recommend booking in soon. Restaurant 22 is a genuine jewel that we have a duty to treasure. Go, now, before the rest of the UK discovers it.



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Experience the wonder of soaring high above the clouds with Aerial Collective erial Collective is a group of people, talents, flying machines and places, all striving to achieve one common goal: to allow those who seek it the rare opportunity to have their senses engulfed as they soar above the clouds and into living history. Through Aerial Collective’s engineering and flying expertise, you too can experience a blur in the line between man and machine and, in doing so, become part of the collective. Based out of the Aircraft Restoration Company’s hangars at Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire, you’ll find the two-seat Supermarine Spitfires, Charlie and Indy, as well as other iconic aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang; sharing their beauty and power with passengers. As well as your once-in-a-lifetime flight, experiences with Aerial Collective include a gift bag with a logbook and souvenir flight-suit patch, plus free entry for you and a plus one to IWM Duxford, Britain’s largest aviation museum. If you book a flight, you receive a boarding pass, with the option of adding a personalised message if the voucher is a gift. Whether for yourself, a loved one, colleague or friend, a flight on a vintage warbird with Aerial Collective is an experience that will be cherished forever. Find out more at and begin the adventure of a lifetime today.





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ABOVE If you want to buy an Aerial Collective voucher as a special gift, you can add a personalised message to the boarding pass

13/09/2019 09:56



With Christmas party season fast approaching, we round up five local venues with the ‘wow’ factor for your office outing

MOONLIGHT SPEAKEASY Step inside the glamorous world of the Neon Moon Burlesque and Cabaret Club for the Moonlight Speakeasy, a Prohibition-inspired pop-up Christmas and New Year’s Eve party. “Seductive hijinks with smoking-hot burlesque and cabaret entertainment, ice-cold, artfully crafted cocktails and

our ‘nip and a wink’ appetiser menu straight from 1920s New York” is what the organisers promise at this intriguing party, which will take place at 12a Members’ Club on the Market Square. If you’re looking for a group gathering with a unique twist, get in touch with the team for details on packages.

PARKER’S TAVERN The Telegraph called it “clever and charming” while The Guardian’s Jay

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Rayner said you simply “won’t want to leave” – it can only be Parker’s Tavern, a restaurant so singularly crowd-pleasing that it became the jewel in Cambridge’s restaurant scene within weeks of opening its doors. Stylish interiors, killer cocktails and a decadent (but fun) menu make it a winner every time, and the festive season will be no exception. For larger groups, there’s the ballroom, with echoes of a college dining hall, which can accommodate up to 200 people. Get dressed up and enjoy a Christmas feast that includes pheasant Wellington, roast Norfolk bronze turkey and Christmas pudding trifle.

A bit of escapism can be the ideal antidote to a high-pressure work environment, so why not treat your colleagues with a shindig at the spectacular South Farm? A Tudor farmhouse surrounded by woodland and beautiful grounds, it’s transformed into a fairy light-festooned winter wonderland each Christmas, with a variety of party packages available. You can get drinks, dinner and dancing for up to 120 guests, plus there’s some luxurious overnight accommodation available (including a lovingly restored Romany wagon).


One of the best-looking restaurants in the city, Six at the Varsity Hotel offers panoramic views of the city, imaginative cocktails and delicious food. It’s the perfect location for an extraspecial festive shindig, whether you’re after a drinks reception and buffet or sit-down meal. Santa hats, crackers and Christmassy cheer come as standard, and the spacious restaurant can accommodate up to 140 for a seated meal, making it ideal for an office outing.


With festive decorations and a domed ceiling giving serious ‘wow’ factor, the Dome dining room at Murray Edwards College can accommodate up to 210 guests, while smaller parties can feast in the Fellows’ room, which has space for 40 cabaret-style and 70 banquetstyle. The Christmas party package is priced at £49 +VAT per person, which includes arrival drink, three-course meal, tea, coffee and mince pie. You can add a disco into the mix too, plus there are overnight rooms available.



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What’s hot and happening in the local events calendar

BRIGHT IDEAS With 273 events spanning everything from climate justice to Brexit to artificial intelligence, this year’s Festival of Ideas promises to be as diverse and fascinating as ever. Running 14 to 27 October, the event is organised by Cambridge University and celebrates the enormous impact of arts, humanities and social sciences on our daily lives, encouraging lively discussion about the world’s biggest challenges. Offering exhibitions, talks, film screenings and workshops, this year’s festival has a special focus on the concept of transformation, the implications of the technology revolution, and wide-ranging social and political changes, from elder care and homeworking to house sharing. For the full programme, visit

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CELLULOID HEROES Taking place 17 to 24 October, the 39th Cambridge Film Festival looks set to be one of the most interesting yet, with a programme packed full of classics, short films, family favourites, documentaries, UK premiers and global cinema. The human rights strand returns with films including On The Inside of a Military Dictatorship, which grippingly tells the story of Myanmar’s transition from democracy to dictatorship, while Restoration and

Rediscoveries offers a collection of rare silent movies and archive features. World Documentaries, meanwhile, shines a light on diverse subjects with Hi, AI, looking at how robots and artificial intelligence will change our lives, while further strands include New Fiction By Women Directors and an environmental programme.

FULLY BOOKED Bringing acclaimed novelists, top nonfiction writers, scientists, politicians and even a bona fide punk icon to the city, Cambridge Literary Festival returns to delight book lovers with its winter instalment in November. Highlights are sure to include Ian McEwan, without a doubt one of the nation’s favourite authors, who will discuss his latest novel Machines Like Me, in which he conjures an alternative world where artificial intelligence has created ‘manufactured humans’. Ballet superstar Dame Darcy Bussell discusses her career, as does comedian Richard Ayoade, whose new memoir View from the Top Stephen Fry described as a work of ‘shimmering genius’. Elif Shafak introduces her powerful, gripping novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, and Will Eaves discusses his Wellcome Book Prize winner Murmur. There’s also a chance to see the New Statesman politics podcast, with Stephen Bush, recorded live, and political journalist Steve Richards has a timely discussion on prime ministers from Harold Wilson

to Boris Johnson. Don’t miss Patti Smith, Words and Music, for a chance to hear thoughts on tackling loss, ageing and the political landscape of America. The festival runs 29 November to 1 December and tickets are available now.



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s Cambridge races to keep up with its own exuberant growth, gleaming new developments are springing up all around the city, but the latest, Eddington, is attention-grabbingly unique for a number of reasons. For starters, this latest extension to the city – which will eventually include 3,000 homes – has been conceived and delivered by Cambridge University. A decade in the making, Eddington is the realisation of an ambitious project by the university to help secure its long-term future through creating homes for key workers and academics. In the face of rising property prices and a shortage of affordable housing, the development is part of a campaign to stem the ‘brain drain’; to keep Cambridge appealing and viable to the postgrads and staff without whom the university cannot function. Eddington is the first phase of the north west Cambridge development, which occupies a vast 150-hectare site, located between Madingley Road and Huntingdon Road. Of the 3,000 homes in the pipeline for development, half will be allocated to those associated with the university, alongside an additional 2,000 postgrad student beds, and the other half will be privately sold to the general public. The sheer scale of the development is another marker of its uniqueness – close in size to 90 football pitches, this new suburb for the city represents the largest investment by a university in a new community. A colossal £1 billion project undergirded by an admirable commitment to sustainability, it encapsulates not just housing, but 100,000 sq m of research facilities, 50 hectares of green open space, the University of Cambridge Primary School and a variety of community facilities.



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Take a look around the University of Cambridge’s ambitious, eco-friendly new neighbourhood




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A NEW COMMUNITY FOR CAMBRIDGE Take a wander around Eddington and something that shines through is the commitment to creating not just a collection of houses, but a living, breathing community. Far from an afterthought, community has been designed in from the outset; a sense of identity carefully woven into the fabric of the place in a way rarely seen in new residential developments. The on-site primary school opened early (around four years ago in fact – before the first homes had been completed), meaning families moving in are able to enrol children immediately, and that Eddington didn’t add to a school-place shortage in Cambridge. The school, which combines an innovative circular design with an equally innovative approach to education, serves not only to educate the children of Eddington families, but also as a primary teacher training

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school for Cambridge University – the first of its kind in the UK. There’s a community and performing arts hub, too; the stunningly state-of-the-art Storey’s Field Centre. Boasting an impressive 180-capacity main hall for concerts, classes and clubs, two smaller multipurpose rooms and a walled garden, the centre is available for both local residents and the wider Cambridge community to use. Also adding to Eddington’s unique character are the numerous pieces of public art that are peppered around the site, which animate both the built and natural landscape. Through the Fata Morgana Teahouse, a steel pavilion on the edge of the lake, and the Pixel Wall, a mirrored surface that reflects its surroundings, passers-by are invited to see the landscape from a different perspective, continually engaging with and enjoying their surroundings; lingering rather than hurrying through.

“Eddington is not just a collection of houses, but a living, breathing community" ISSUE 03


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A GREEN DREAM Alongside community, another guiding principle across the Eddington development is sustainability. The eco features are endlessly impressive, from the rainwater-harvesting system – the largest of its kind in the UK – which is designed to reduce consumption per person while also protecting against flood risk, to the innovative waste management solutions and the dazzlingly energy-efficient homes, the site is an exemplar of sustainability. Eddington also lays claim to the city’s first district heating system, which sees individual boilers in homes replaced with one central network that provides hot water and heat across the site. The site is green in a physical sense, too, with an abundance of parklands, play areas, allotments and sports pitches. Residents are encouraged towards a sustainable lifestyle, with a car share club and top-notch walking and cycle routes – which there is little reason not to embrace when it’s just a brisk two-mile pedal to the Market Square in the city centre.



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The homes take inspiration from Cambridge’s period properties, while reflecting contemporary lifestyles"

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ATHENA If you’re sold on the Eddington vision, look to Athena: the 249 sleek new homes located opposite the University of Cambridge Primary School. Named, fittingly, after the Greek goddess of wisdom, the development offers a collection of cleverly designed studios, one, two and three-bedroom apartments and three and fourbedroom houses. “These are what we call 21stcentury period homes, combining contemporary design and vernacular with walkable streets more commonly found in historic places that have evolved over many years,” explains architect, Alexis Butterfield, associate partner at Pollard Thomas Edwards. “The restrained palette of facade materials has been inspired by the robust qualities of Cambridge; brick, metal and stone.” Filled with natural light, the homes take inspiration from Cambridge’s period properties (large windows, spacious rooms), while reflecting contemporary lifestyles with underfloor heating, terraces and hi-tech appliances. It offers an appealing mixture of modern and traditional. When asked about what they’re most pleased with though, the architects say it’s the way the residents’ needs have been put at the heart of the design. “Open space in our towns and cities is increasingly precious, but with our design, each piece of the available

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space has been planned to put people first and cars second,” explains Alexis. “Residents’ parking is kept off the street, while two whole streets are landscaped and given over to community use entirely – transforming the street from a traffic space into a social space, and providing an attractive walk to the new local centre.” The compact, low-rise design at Athena is a perfect demonstration of how developers can answer the need for high-density housing, without compromising the overall aesthetic of a development – or, of course, marring the skyline.



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E D D I N G T O N Stylish and sustainable homes available now at the awardwinning Eddington development t the heart of Eddington is the awardwinning Athena: a collection of 249 cleverly designed studios, one, two and threebedroom apartments and two, three and fourbedroom houses. Filled with natural light, these homes offer an appealing mixture of modern and traditional; taking inspiration from Cambridge’s period properties while reflecting contemporary lifestyles, with underfloor heating, terraces and top-of-therange appliances. Athena is an exemplar of sustainability, with every home boasting high levels of insulation, triple glazing, underfloor heating, energy-efficient kitchen appliances, aerated shower heads and taps, plus photovoltaic roof panels – all helping the homes achieve Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5, the gold standard in environmentally conscious homebuilding. Book a viewing now at Athena, an exciting new place to call home.

Filled with natural light, these homes offer an appealing mixture of modern and traditional"



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Apartments are available from


Houses are available from £699,950

Sales & Marketing Suite Eddington Avenue, Cambridge CB3 1SE Opening times: 10am – 5.30pm daily

Call us on 01223 607200 to arrange a viewing

Inside Athena homes, you’ll find considered and contemporary design, with quality in all the details"

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Profile for Bright Publishing

Cambridge Catalyst 03  

On the pulse of the city's business community.

Cambridge Catalyst 03  

On the pulse of the city's business community.