First, in support of the £200M GrowthAccelerator service he first launched in July, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, Dr Vince Cable MP, spoke to 50 ambitious entrepreneurs from the East of England – and numerous journalists – packed into the Sanger Suite.
“This Government is committed to supporting our growth industries and Cambridge is an example of what can be achieved when academia and ambitious, innovative young companies come together. Autonomy and Arm Holdings are just two of the world-leading technology companies that were established here and many others are following in their wake,” said Dr Cable.
St John’s Innovation Centre is part of a consortium, which includes Grant Thornton and Pera, delivering the national GrowthAccelerator service to support high-growth firms. The consultancy team at SJIC works with businesses in the New Anglia and Greater Cambridgeshire & Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnerships. It was fitting for Dr Cable to re-launch the service in the city where he studied Natural Sciences and Economics as an undergraduate. He was accompanied by Cambridge MP, Dr Julian Huppert, a former SJIC Star Service tenant.
Secondly, Dr Cable’s introduction was followed by short talks from local entrepreneurs in support of coaching. Former St John’s tenant Billy Boyle, co-founder of Owlstone Nanotech Ltd recalled the importance of informal mentoring to Owlstone in its early days and welcomed the wider availability of a government-supported service.
Anita Human, Managing Director of Human Touch Training & Care Ltd, described how working with the right coach helped her business develop and grow. Current St John’s Innovation Centre tenant James Tweed, Managing Director of Coracle Online Ltd, who recently started on GrowthAccelerator, saw business coaching in the same light as athletics coaching: Olympic success shows how potential can be unlocked.
Thirdly, the final speaker was Dr Mike Lynch, Founder of Autonomy – another former SJIC tenant. Dr Lynch felt nostalgic coming back to St John’s Innovation Centre because “this is where it had all begun” for him. He said that there was no formalized concept of mentoring back then and that the companies present had a remarkable opportunity. “I strongly advise you to take advantage of GrowthAccelerator,” said Dr Lynch.
SMEs who had expressed interest in taking part in GrowthAccelerator were then given the opportunity to experience a taster coaching session by breaking into smaller discussion groups with experienced coaches and other companies at a comparable stage of evolution. The message that high-growth businesses are more likely to realise their full potential sooner with the benefit of targeted coaching and advice was so well-understood after the taster sessions that the St John’s team then received 20 approaches to find out more.
Finally, back to Dr Cable. Before submitting himself to a battery of media interviews in the Atrium, the Business Secretary unveiled a plaque to mark 25th the anniversary of SJIC’s inauguration. This plaque is now on display behind Reception, its neighbour commemorating Prince Philip’s visit here in the very early days of the Centre.
To assess your eligibility and find out more visit www.growthaccelerator.com. Or you can contact your local Growth Managers, Dave Richards and Kirsten Masson, based at St John’s Innovation Centre, who are keen to answer your questions. We can be contacted on 01223 420252 or email@example.com