We are currently working on five separate projects: Growth & Commercial Space, Connecting Cambridge, Education & Skills, Housing, and Transport.
Image: 123rf.com / Maksim Kabakou
Upon our formation in November 2013, our Board identified three priorities: Clarifying the Growth Agenda, Promoting Cambridge, and Improving the Quality of Life. Our work in our inaugural year was a mixture of pursuing these first three long-term projects, and work which was more reactive or short-term. Examples of the latter were our support for the Greater Cambridge City Deal, our successful assistance to the lobbying of the Treasury to move Papworth Hospital to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus rather than to Peterborough, and the conception of, and support for, the introduction of the congestion-busting Stagecoach East Route R service from Trumpington Park & Ride to Cambridge Railway Station. We continue this modus operandi − long-term project work but instigating ‘quick win’ initiatives when the opportunity arises.
Please see a map of the area that our projects cover here.
Project leaders are selected for each priority and each in turn assembles a team of individuals from across Cambridge in order to tackle these priorities. The project members are drawn from a wide range of bodies – the Universities, the Councils, the LEP, the BID, Cambridge Network, Cambridge Enterprise, businesses and other Cambridge stakeholder organisations who possess the expertise we need to make these projects happen. Project Groups meet regularly to progress their projects.
1. Growth & Commercial Space
We need a 20-40 year vision for the city which can transcend short-term political differences. Cambridge Ahead will help by proposing ideas to elected leaders and the community at large for wide debate. Flowing from the vision will be a set of future requirements for infrastructure and planning which will undoubtedly provide future challenges for Cambridge Ahead, governments and other organisations. The shortage of supply of commercial property in the Cambridge region could be a real barrier to growth so the team will work to help address this vital issue in the short and medium term. More>
2. Connecting Cambridge
The goal of the team is to identify current connectivity status within the Cambridge projects area. Once this is done, the aim is to provide a clear, long-term vision for Cambridge as the most hyper-connected city in the world, offering businesses a seamless opportunity to work. More>
3. Education & Skills
Cambridge’s education system has unique issues that need addressing. Firstly, its per-pupil funding is considerably lower than the average for England. We also have too few school leavers in the STEM subjects, which for a city whose business model is based on science and engineering is an issue that needs urgent attention, and we need to get local business more involved with schools which would mean changes to the curriculum. Linked to this, we recognise that school-aged students must be helped to develop skills and gain qualifications that businesses want. Further, these skills need to be matched with opportunities in the commercial sector. So our work centres on fostering a broader recognition of the skills and qualifications required for a plethora of career opportunities, particularly in the strategically important STEM sectors. More>
Housing, alongside Transport, is the biggest problem threatening not just Cambridge’s growth but also our citizens’ quality of life. There is a chronic shortage of houses, and both purchase and rental prices are amongst the highest in the country. Therefore the role of the Project group is to help address the shortage of supply. More>
Our Quality of Life survey in 2014 showed, unambiguously, that the respondents felt that the most important issue in the Cambridge region was road congestion. But we recognise that a comprehensive transport solution encompassing road, rail and cycling is required in order to meet the needs of Cambridge’s inhabitants, commuters and businesses. More>
Promoting Cambridge (completed in early 2015)
Cambridge’s contribution to the UK economy is still not widely understood and its potential is underestimated. So the objective of the Promoting Cambridge Project team was to have a Cambridge that speaks with a consistent voice to the world at large, with a real understanding of the city and its current offer, its leadership in industry, its thinking and entrepreneurial spirit. This will lead to a stronger appreciation of Cambridge by politicians and the media. After over a year of work, a solution was agreed and a Development Director role, part-funded by us, was created within Cambridge Network, with the main task of promoting Cambridge as an attractive location for overseas organisations to expand to. More>
Improving the Quality of Life (completed in Autumn 2014)
This was one of the very first projects that Cambridge Ahead set up. With the aim of identifying the values and drivers of Quality of Life in Cambridge, it was lead by Prof Mike Thorne, Vice-Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University. He set about building a group of individuals that had an interest and expertise in this particular area. The objective was to help determine the areas of concern of Cambridge employees and use the data as an evidence base to inform the drivers that determine a successful economy, such as education, leisure, security health, transport and housing. More>