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Better evidence to support better decision making


Cambridge Ahead is 10 years old this year. A decade on and with a greatly expanded membership, our purpose has evolved…to be a catalyst for the success of Cambridge and quality of life for all across the city region. Today, we strive to deliver this purpose by collaboratively working with our members, partners and stakeholders to ensure that the vibrant city we call home continues to flourish for all that inhabit it.

A special city

Cambridge is a special city in many ways. One powerful way is the incredible reach and impact of its innovation and research ecosystem. When Cambridge residents switch on their lights or turn on their taps – it is software from AVEVA that helps the electricity and water flow safely and reliably to every home. Most people in Cambridge will have devices in their pockets that are powered by Arm technology. Many will have received healthcare treatments that are designed with intelligence from the genetic sequencing at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and made possible by life sciences companies, such as AstraZeneca. The amazing truth is that all of these, and many more, major institutions that shape the world call Cambridge home.

A dedicated membership

Cambridge Ahead brings together all of these above referenced organisations, and many other major employers and forces in the city region’s economy. Our core purpose is to ensure that a buoyant economy is a good thing for the city that hosts it. Economic growth must be sustainable and must be inclusive of the communities that surround it. Distilling this down to one simple but powerful concept – we look at how we shape our city through the lens of quality of life.

A collaborative effort

Achieving this will always need to be a collective effort across the ABC of academia, business, and the civic community. The main role that Cambridge Ahead plays is to provide research and evidence that informs the decisions of our democratically elected local authorities and Government. Better evidence in theory leads to better decision making. This is the concept upon which Cambridge Ahead was founded in 2013 and one which has translated into research around issues as wide ranging as the quality of careers advice in our schools, the affordable housing needs of young people, post-pandemic changes to working practices, and – at the heart of Cambridge Ahead’s efforts – a better fundamental understanding of what is happening on the ground in our economy.

Being able to add evidence and insight to policymakers is bolstered by the market knowledge and expertise of the members that make up Cambridge Ahead. Membership is curated to offer a cross-section of large-scale and influential employers that crucially have a very long-term interest in Cambridge being a thriving city. Membership is therefore broad, and includes (in addition to those previously referenced) the University of Cambridge, British Land, Stansted Airport, Urban&Civic, Cambridge Building Society, the Jockey Club, Marshall of Cambridge, and the Addenbrooke’s and Rosie hospitals – to name some of the 51 strong membership. Organisations that are our members share a common and active commitment to the long-term success of the city, and identify with the challenges that are being experienced today. Challenges like access to affordable housing, attractive public transport options, strong and robust education and training that sets local people up to access a wide range of jobs in our high-value sectors.

Forging common understanding and finding common cause

Place-making isn’t a one-way street. As well as providing input to local and national Government, it is of huge value that those working in major businesses and institutions in the city understand and engage in the issues policymakers are grappling with. Cambridge Ahead brings managers and employees together with policymakers to discuss and work through key challenges – forging common understanding and finding common cause – genuine empathy. For example, conversations forged in the Cambridge Ahead Skills Group have led to multiple organisations forming career partnerships with Cambridge Regional College. In these cases, employers like Arm Education and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, work with the local college to shape course content and provide work experience opportunities, the results of which creates a flow of well-skilled and informed young people who are then appropriately prepared to access high-value and rewarding jobs.

A vision which continues to resonate

Cambridge Ahead’s ethos and commitment to being a catalyst for the sustainable success of Cambridge and quality of life across the city region continues to resonate with business and academic organisations that call Cambridge home. Membership of Cambridge Ahead continues to thrive with three more organisations – Sanofi R&D Cambridge, Mission Street and Kadans Science Partner joining so far in 2023.

Do explore our members page to find out more about them and some other member organisations, which collectively commit their time and expertise across multiple industry sectors to add valuable perspectives to the work of Cambridge Ahead.


Written by Dan Thorp,
Director of Policy and Programmes dan@cambridgeahead.co.uk 



07548 832 833


Sarah Brereton, Director, Limewash
07796 583 223

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