Chris Bruce, Cambridge Wireless Board Member and Chair of the CTW steering committee has this to say about why he believes supporting Cambridge’s first tech week is so important. You can also hear what Chris says about the week in the following podcasts: Cambridge Tech Podcast and Eastern Promise.
Let’s start off with full disclosure: I am not from Cambridge (in fact I live near Bishop’s Stortford) and I’m certainly not a ‘techie,’ or an engineer or a technical designer.
However, I have always been fascinated by the so-called Cambridge Phenomenon and the rich, diverse, and vibrant tech scene it incubates. It’s undeniable that it has earned its reputation as a hub for innovation in the world of science and technology, and delivers a sizeable (£30bn) contribution to the UK tech economy.
Personally, after 30 years working in the world of telecoms and technology, I can say that my interest in technology lies in the difference that it can make to our world. Its purpose. What difference will the technology in question make, be that to the economy, business growth, society, education, health and more?
This brings me to what Cambridge Tech Week will deliver, and why. CTW will offer many things, including showcasing the hidden gems of the region and connecting the tech community, across Cambridge, the region, the UK and internationally.
After all, technology is a global business. Clusters like Cambridge and the ecosystem that supports it, help foster innovation but to make a real impact, collaboration must cross the globe – our CONNECT events during the week are tailored for the international community.
The whole week offers events and sessions that reach out beyond Cambridge to collaborate with technology partners, investors, and developers. Our aim is to find ways to accelerate business growth in many of the areas that the UK Government has set out as its priorities – Semiconductors, Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning, Quantum Computing, Next Generation Networks and Connected Things – all areas where Cambridge can rightfully demonstrate a ‘right to speak’.
Good question – why not before? Unfortunately, Covid has a lot to answer for. This was an initiative that came from serial entrepreneur and ex-Cambridge Wireless (CW) Board member Ann Fisher, who encouraged CW to step up to deliver the inaugural event on behalf of stakeholders and network groups across the Cambridge region.
The week has a great range of activities going on during the CORE Conference, including the Innovation Alley early-stage business award, The Big Tech Debate to be held at the Cambridge Union Debating Chamber, and the CONNECT programme for international delegates to meet key partners to help navigate the Cambridge ecosystem.
Not forgetting the multiple fringe events running throughout the week, our CONVERSATIONS, which have been organised by and for individuals and organisations addressing special interests, networks and communities.
I am delighted that some of the first of these CONVERSATIONS to be announced are addressing the need to bring a more diverse community into the tech world. For instance, STEM TOTS is a session for early years citizens, there’s a Coding Bootcamp taster session, and a PR Storytelling masterclass.
Lord Simon Woolley will be hosting an in-person and online roundtable with leading speakers from the technology community and institutions, on driving Black talent access to roles in STEM and creating value for the technology sector.
I am especially looking forward to listening to Patrick Pichette, ex Chair of Twitter and ex CFO Google for his insight into Big Tech; Howard Watson Chief Security and Network Officer from my old company BT Group, and meeting the innovators showcasing at the Innovation Alley.
Given my background in Wireless and Connected Cities – I am also looking forward to the session where the Greater Cambridge Partnership will present some of the unique and perhaps not unique challenges that Cambridge faces – forecasted 25% population growth this decade, 25% increase in travel journeys, yet a need to reduce travel journeys significantly to reduce the effects of pollution and contribute to the UK’s carbon reduction goals.
All while making Cambridge a great place to live, work and visit – and a great place to locate and grow businesses, with the infrastructure to enable effective global collaboration.
The Innovation Journeys are ‘fire side chats’ with leaders that promise to be fascinating tales of the twists and turns that innovators and entrepreneurs must pursue, as they turn their inspiration into a successful reality.
Then of course there is the Big Tech Debate, to be held at the Cambridge Union Debating Chamber. This iconic place will be the backdrop to a highly entertaining and thought-provoking set of interactive discussion and debates dealing with the opportunities and challenges that tech presents. I am delighted that the moderators of the day will be TV broadcaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and TechCrunch Editor at Large, Mike Butcher.
Debating motions and protagonists to be announced soon!
I am living and breathing CTW23 right now, working with the team at CW and the other stakeholders on the CTW Steering Committee. It’s shaping up to be an exciting week, I look forward to seeing you there!
Chris Bruce is a Non-Executive Director at Cambridge Wireless and Chair of the CTW23 Steering Committee. Chris has a long career in companies large and small in the Telecoms and Tech sector and is now acting as a strategic management consultant for Wi-Fi operators and vendors.