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19 pictures as Cambridge Network celebrates 21st anniversary in style


By Mike Scialom


Lord Alec Broers and Hermann Hauser at Cambridge Networks 21st Anniversary, University Arms, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Lord Alec Broers and Hermann Hauser at Cambridge Networks 21st Anniversary, University Arms, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

New-look University Arms is venue

Cambridge Network CEO Claire Ruskin at University Arms Ballroom. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Network CEO Claire Ruskin at University Arms Ballroom. Picture: Keith Heppell

The newly-reopened University Arms was the setting for Cambridge Network’s 21st anniversary celebration on Monday (September 3).

The city’s premier networking organisation was started in 1997 by the then Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Alec Broers – now Lord Broers – with businessmen and entrepreneurs Hermann Hauser, David Cleevely, Nigel Brown, Fred Hallsworth and Anthony Ross, then head of 3i Cambridge.

Dr Hauser and Lord Broers arrived together at the Ballroom, joining guests who were intrigued to see the inside of thew-look hotel.

Of Cambridge Network’s origins, Dr Hauser said: “Over dinner Lord Broers and I lamented the fact that Cambridge didn’t have a networking organisation.”

Cambridge Networks 21st anniversary took place at the recently reopened University Arms. Picture: Keith Heppell

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Cambridge Networks 21st anniversary took place at the recently reopened University Arms. Picture: Keith Heppell Cambridge Judge Business Schools head of media relations Charles Goldsmith at Cambridge Networks 21st Anniversary in the University Arms. Picture: Keith Heppell Cambridge Networks 21st anniversary took place at the recently reopened University Arms. Picture: Keith Heppell Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, right, in conversation at Cambridge Networks 21st anniversary in the University Arms. Picture: Keith Heppell Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, right, in conversation at Cambridge Networks 21st Anniversary in the University Arms. Picture: Keith Heppell In the Ballroom for Cambridge Networks 21st Anniversary. Picture: Keith Heppell COELs Lizzie Duckworth and NW Browns Oliver Phillips at the University Arms gathering. Picture: Keith Heppell All smiles with Emma Thornton and Ian Sandison. Picture: Keith Heppell Visit Cambridge CEO Emma Thornton, Cambridge BID CEO Ian Sandison with High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, chairman of Cambridge Network, and founder and group CEO of RealVNC, Andy Harter. Picture: Keith Heppell CW CEO Bob Driver, centre, and director of Cambridge Science Park, Jeanette Walker. Picture: Keith Heppell AstraZenecas Cambridge external communications associate director, Charlotte Fitzgerald and Anna Delly. Picture: Keith Heppell Cambridge Enterprise chief executive Dr Tony Raven with CW CEO Bob Driver. Picture: Keith Heppell HSBCs Alec Bird in conversation at Cambridge Networks 21st anniversary event. Picture: Keith Heppell Cambridge Network fans and members had an animated evening at the University Arms for the ground-breaking organisations 21st anniversary. Picture: Keith Heppell Cambridge Assessments group director, global operations, Kate Barnett, in conversation with Kathryn Horton and Darren Sharpe of Turning Factor at the Cambridge Network 21st anniversary. Picture: Keith Heppell Its good to talk... at the Cambridge Network 21st anniversary. Picture: Keith Heppell Networking at its best in the Ballroom. Picture: Keith Heppell

Fast forward 21 years and, with 1,500 member companies and 20,000 followers, it’s safe to say it does now. Members range from AstraZeneca to CMR Surgical to Ziconix.

Dr Cleevely said: “When Hermann Hauser, Lord Broers and I first discussed the idea of a networking organisation for Cambridge none of us had any idea how successful or long lived it would turn out to be.

“Before Cambridge Network, rivalry and tribalism were the order of the day. Now Cambridge leads the UK in showing how a city can use collaboration and networking to deliver sustained growth and a hugely successful economy, due in no small part to the connectivity and support which Cambridge Network has provided for 21 years now.”

With its website, member directory and a programme of events, it’s now embedded in Cambridge’s DNA.

CEO Claire Ruskin said: “Ideas were being shared in pubs and cafes in the city, but there was no structure to grow that experience, where people could learn from each other intentionally and perhaps come up with new businesses. So the Network was established to connect people both physically, through regular face-to-face meetings, and virtually, through a comprehensive online member directory and news system.

“And what we’ve found as the Network has matured is that meetings result in hugely valuable cross-fertilisation of ideas and best practice. Serendipitous conversations prompt unexpected partnerships and deliberately unpredictable outcomes,” she says.

In the late 1990s the idea of a hub in the form of a website – especially one that allowed members to interact and add their own material – was innovative, but the Cambridge business community embraced it. The first Network site was ground-breaking, a flagship model for networking organisations across Europe, followed more recently by those in Munich and in Leuven, Belgium.

The site has gone through several iterations, with its core still the member directory; listings of events run by the Network and members, and a news service which allows both to post press releases and company information. Today the site includes full details of the immense variety of courses and peer learning groups run by the Network’s training division, the Learning Collaboration, and also boasts what is known as the best jobs board in the region – the Recruitment Gateway.

These services came about in response to the needs of Network members. Other activities have evolved and changed but the Network’s purpose has not changed: to sustain and grow the vibrant, multi-sector cluster of Cambridge and to bring its diverse, highly-skilled members together to meet and share ideas, and to collaborate for greater success.

“We are always keen to hear from members who have new ideas for activities we can develop, like our more recent School for Scale-Ups which is growing fast,” says Claire.

“We sustain ourselves by being excellent in delivering services that members want,”

So congratulations for getting the ball rolling – and running with it so far and for so long. One of the reasons Cambridge is an exceptional business brand is down to the way people come together and find common ground to talk. Long may this grand tradition continue.



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