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Latest data from Cambridge Ahead reveals unabated growth of Cambridge companies


New data shows that the remarkable growth of Cambridge companies that we revealed for 2014-15 continued in 2015-16.

We are now entering the early stages of a process that will map out what the city region will look like in the years up to 2050. This process has become all the more necessary with the release of new data at our annual conference entitled, What Makes for a Successful UK City in the 21st century?, held at the Granta Centre in Granta Park, south of Cambridge, last week.

The data shows that in 2015-16, growth of Cambridge companies continued at around 7% on a one, three and five-year view. Global turnover of Cambridge companies increased by 7.6% to £35.7bn, up from £33bn the previous year, and global employment grew by 7.6% to 210,292. The number of companies with their home base within 20 miles of Cambridge has grown from 22,017 to 24,580.

Turnover and employment in the life science sector grew by 32.1% and 10.5% respectively in 2015-16, and construction and ICT was also buoyant with the former enjoying growth of 11.8% in employment and 7.2% in turnover. Within the Knowledge-intensive (KI) sector as a whole, turnover grew by 10.5% and employment by 6.8%. KI intensity remains high at 34% of turnover and 29% of employment.

The new figures exclude the ‘AstraZeneca effect’, which would add £16.1bn to the city region’s global turnover and 60,100 to global employment if it were included. The figures also exclude the impact of inward investment by external companies in the Cambridge region such as Apple and Amazon.

In the non-corporate research sector, employment growth eased from 8.3% to 5.5%. No growth data is yet available for external companies that trade in the city region.

Matthew Bullock, Master of St Edmund’s College and Chairman of the Cambridge Ahead Growth Project, said: “What is notable about the data is that 2015-16 was just another typical 7% growth year for Cambridge. Over the past five years (2010-11 to 2015-16) the turnover of Cambridge companies has grown by 7.5% p.a., and employment by 6.6% p.a.

“The growth of 7% per annum, if sustained and compounded over 10 years, will result in growth of 97%, essentially a doubling of where we were in 2011. We are already five years through the decade, and we therefore need to plan to manage this growth in a sustainable way, so that quality of life is not further affected. Additionally, it’s clear that local constraints on physical growth are beginning to impact on management agendas for growth.”

Jane Paterson-Todd, CEO of Cambridge Ahead, added: “The release of this exciting new data shows the continued dynamism of the city region and supports the need for infrastructure and skills investment as laid out in The Case for Cambridge. We all want a truly sustainable city and our work constitutes the building blocks towards this goal.”

The latest data has been created by Cambridge Ahead, working with Dr Andy Cosh at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Business Research. It is being made publicly available from February via the Cambridge Cluster Map, available at www.camclustermap.com but a summary can be viewed in this slidedeck from the event. Download the press release with notes (Word document).


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