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The Bradfield Centre celebrates fifth anniversary

In its first five years, The Bradfield Centre at Cambridge Science Park has flourished, supporting nearly 400 start-ups, creating a vibrant hub for the city’s tech community and welcoming local residents and Park tenants to its airy cafe and lakeside space.

Members celebrate The Bradfield’s fifth anniversary. Photo: Keith Heppell

Today the 40,000 square ft centre, with workspaces, communal areas and high-quality facilities, including meeting rooms, 100-seat auditorium, café, bar, and high-speed Wi-Fi, is home to 118 companies and 609 members.

Since opening in 2017, The Bradfield has hosted nearly 1000 events, attracting more than 30,000 people from the city and wider region. That includes the annual Trinity Bradfield Prize for researcher-entrepreneur teams with a link to the University of Cambridge. The Trinity Bradfield 2022 prize is open for entries.

The seeds of the idea for an innovation centre at Cambridge Science Park began to germinate in 2013 from discussions between the Master of Trinity, Sir Gregory Winter, himself a biotech entrepreneur, alumni active in the region’s tech sector, and the Senior Bursar, Rory Landman.

Cambridge serendipity saw interest from various arms of government and Prime Minister David Cameron added his support, leading to part funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for the £20 million project. Initially the managers were Central Working, now succeeded by Mantle Space.

Former Master of Trinity Sir Gregory Winter and the family of Sir John Bradfield at the groundbreaking for the Bradfield Centre. Photo: Phil Mynott

The aim of the Centre, named after Trinity’s legendary Senior Bursar, Sir John Bradfield, was to attract and retain scientific and tech entrepreneurs in Cambridge and provide a collaborative hub with the key ingredients readily available to enable them to scale-up their businesses.

Both Rory Landman and Managing Director of the Centre, James Parton, highlight the buzz of The Bradfield. ‘It’s a hive of activity, you can hear the humming when you enter,’ says Mr Landman, now a Fellow of Trinity. ‘That alone is a great achievement, there is that feeling of shared endeavour.’

Mr Parton agrees.

We have created something genuinely special, and it all starts with an amazing, attentive team who truly care about the companies and individuals that call The Bradfield Centre home. When that is combined with incredible architecture, the collaborative workspace, the leafy setting, and a comprehensive range of support to help our member companies grow, The Bradfield really stands out.

The Bradfield Centre. Photo: Paul Grover

One of many factors in The Bradfield’s success – back to full capacity post-COVID – has been its agility and flexibility. Mr Parton said:

‘Driven by the changing needs of the market post-pandemic, we now offer Virtual Office memberships, Home-Flexi memberships for those that mix working from home and the office, as well as continuing the popular resident desk and private office offers. The Bradfield Centre now also now offers external hire of meetings rooms, driven by the need for remote teams to come together with colleagues to collaborate.’

Collaborative working space at The Bradfield. Photo: Paul Grover

Mr Parton paid tribute to the support of Trinity and Mantle Space throughout the public health crisis, and to the Bradfield’s members. ‘The pandemic demonstrated we really do have a special community at the Centre, as members returned as soon as they were able.’

Perhaps that’s no surprise given Mr Parton knows exactly what members need.

First, access to top talent, second, help with business development and third, access to funding. Virtually nowhere else in the UK offers what makes the Bradfield Centre unique.

We have combined world-class scale-up space with start-up growth support services, wrapped in a vibrant, inclusive, and collaborative culture, elevated by strong connections to one of the world’s leading universities.

From left to right: James Parton, Claire Wilson, Richard Turnill, Mark Watson, Lil Allen, and John Tweddle. Photo: Keith Heppell

Looking back, Mr Landman said the original brief for The Bradfield was flexible, to allow the concept to evolve during the planning stages and for members to input once the Centre for was open. ‘The whole idea was that we would be enablers, we would not dictate,’ he said.

That’s also how Cambridge Science Park evolved. Established by Sir John Bradfield in 1970, it was the first science park in Europe, and today one the most successful.

In a way things have come full circle. The Bradfield has become the ‘heart’ of Park, says Mr Landman, with a convivial space accessible to all. Indeed, anyone can attend the varied events at the Bradfield and enjoy the Lakeside Café.

Listen to James Parton in conversation with Rory Landman.

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