St John’s Innovation Centre was established by St John’s College, part of the University of Cambridge, in 1987 to provide early-stage, knowledge-based companies with business advice, strategic consultancy, introductions and flexible accommodation. It was the first innovation centre of its kind in Europe and has become world-renowned for its success as a business incubator. The Centre is located at the heart of the Greater Cambridge technology cluster, in which it plays a pivotal role.
The centre has a prime location on the northern fringe of Cambridge, conveniently situated just off the A14/A10 junction with ample parking and easy access to the A14 and M11 and a 50 minute train journey to London.
History and Buildings
The Park is situated on 21 acres of land which St John’s College has owned since the 16th century. The concept of developing the Park was to encourage and facilitate the creation of knowledge-based businesses. The Park houses businesses which have come from all sources, including the University of Cambridge, other research and academic organisations, consultancies and spin-outs from other businesses.
The Innovation Centre was built in 1987 with a total of 2,220 square metres. It was one of the first buildings which offered technology businesses the opportunity to obtain their own offices without making a long term financial commitment on the lease. The flexible easy-in, easy-out accommodation has proved very popular over the years.
The success of the Centre led to an extension of the facilities in two phases and the Centre now offers 4,860 square metres of accommodation.
Adjacent to the Innovation Centre is the Jeffreys Building, which was built in 1990 and provides 3,126 square metres to a number of businesses wanting larger accommodation and longer leases.
St John’s House was built in 1994 and is occupied by Cambridge Silicon Radio, a quoted company which spun out of Cambridge Consultants.
The Innovation Centre Managing Director is David Gill, a Cambridge Graduate who has extensive experience in working with early stage technology companies. David, as well as being a qualified barrister, has worked in Investment Banking – he has been Head of Innovation & Technology with HSBC and a Sloan Fellow at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and immediately prior to joining St John’s was a Director of a venture capital company focused on early-stage technology companies.
St John’s Innovation Centre exists to provide a dynamic and supportive incubation environment to accelerate the growth of ambitious innovative firms in the Cambridge region.
It is privately owned and commercially managed.
About 85 companies are located at SJIC, employing over 400 people, creating a vibrant community with an entrepreneurial spirit. Tenants are early-stage companies operating in a wide range of technologies.
Unlike other innovation centres, the centre is also home to a number of companies offering services such as marketing, accountancy and legal services. This creates a diverse business community and encourages the cross-fertilisation of ideas. Expertise is provided in:
- Product innovation, design and manufacture
- Intellectual property
- Human resource development and management
- Fund raising and other financial services
- Training in a wide range of business related subjects
The Innovation Centre also has over 330 virtual tenants, who make use of the facilities and many of whom will gradually grow and move into the centre as tenants. A virtual service, called the Star Service, offers a business address, telephone, fax and post handling plus access to the building’s facilities. This is particularly relevant for high-tech companies or companies that provide business support services and want an Innovation Centre ‘office’ but are unable to take up residency on the Park.
A number of highly successful Cambridge technology businesses have started life at the Centre, which works with many businesses across the Region, not just its tenants. Successful innovative firms including Autonomy Corporation PLC, RedGate Software Ltd and Jagex have occupied units in the past.
The philosophy of the Innovation Centre is to provide security and flexibility to tenants, and the Centre therefore offers an easy-in, easy-out policy with renewable leases for two years and the option to break on one month’s notice.
The facilities are all-inclusive and offer high quality connectivity, reception, security, fax, photocopying, conferencing and exhibition space. There are six meeting rooms and a boardroom, which are well used and are free of charge to tenants.
The Conferencing and Catering facilities at St John’s Innovation Centre are ideal for all business events in the area, with an on-site restaurant and five Conference Rooms.
The facilities were purpose-built to offer the most up-to-date rooms and facilities for all business needs: conferences, exhibitions, seminars, workshops, meetings and training courses. St John’s Innovation Centre offers affordable facilities with capacity from 4 to 80 people. A common area, referred to as The Atrium, provides a relaxing environment for tenants and visitors with a comfortable seating area, 24-hour news channel, newspapers and books.
The Centre and its team are well networked and closely linked with all the business support organisations in the area, having been instrumental in the creation of the Cambridge Technopole (www.cambridgetechnopole.org.uk). The team is also very close to business angel networks and investment community generally.
The team provides a range of advice to businesses and regularly works with public sector schemes to support them.
Tenants at the centre are able to utilise a number of business support opportunities. A monthly mingle is held to encourage the sharing of ideas, skills and expertise through networking with other tenants over coffee and cake. Local businesses sponsor these events, extending the link with tenants and companies in the local entrepreneurial community.
Tenants are able to promote job vacancies on the St John’s Innovation Centre website, gaining the attention of professional, qualified job seekers in the region.
Employees based at St John’s Innovation Park are automatic members of the Travel for Work Partnership. Not only does this mean access to services such as assistance for employers in creating a Travel Plan, but also all commuters get special discount on bicycles, bicycle accessories and train tickets.
Tenants also have access to the Chaplaincy to People at Work Cambridgeshire (CPW), an independent registered charity offering support and guidance. It seeks to work in any multi-faith workplace setting, offering impartial support and counselling and always respecting an organisation’s diversity policy.
Fostering Growth and Innovation
St John’s Innovation Centre focuses on supporting knowledge-based and high-growth businesses. It has a team of in-house business advisors who seek to provide the best strategic and management advice, Leadership and Management training and introductions through its network, thereby increasing the chances of business success.
St John’s Innovation Centre has delivered a number of government-funded programmes. Both Understanding Finance for Business and Coaching for High Growth were funded by the East of England Development Agency, as part of the government-funded Solutions for Business programme. In 2012 St John’s Innovation Centre became part of the consortium (which includes Grant Thornton and Pera) delivering the new national GrowthAccelerator Service to help growing businesses unlock and sustain their high-growth potential.
St John’s Innovation Centre offers a wide range of highly effective training programmes and workshops, all designed to help business grow and improve the performance of staff and management teams. Training services are delivered by leading experts in their fields, using the latest techniques and knowledge.
St John’s Innovation Centre is well placed to provide collaborative advice, support and recommendations to science parks, techno parks, incubators, innovation, entrepreneurship and intellectual property and can effectively deliver the tools and methodologies to accelerate growth, develop knowledge intensive services and provide best practice exchange.
Memberships and Accreditations
St John’s Innovation Centre has been a member of the United Kingdom Science Park Association since 1987, and a member of United Kingdom Business Incubation (UKBI) since 1999.
In December 2010, St John’s Innovation Centre was granted full membership of the European Business and Innovation Centre Network (EBN) and thus became the first accredited ‘BIC’ (Business and Innovation Centre) in the East of England, joining a network of only 10 such accredited organisations within the UK.
St John’s regularly hosts visitors from overseas and provides far more than just accommodation. A full list of tenants is available on the
Burns LunchDate: Thursday, 23 January 2020Time: 12:00Venue: The Square Café, St John’s Innovation Centre, Cambridge St John’s Innovation Centre is delighted to be hosting lunch with a Highland twist celebrating classic Burns Night dishes including haggis, neeps,...
St John’s Innovation Centre is delighted to be partnering with Cofinitive to support their #21toWatch campaign, launched to celebrate the Cambridge and East of England based companies and ‘things’ that are setting the standards in innovation and...
St John’s Innovation Centre is delighted to share a hands-on Merlin ICT podcast with Dr Uday Phadke discussing the key stages of the researchers’ commercialisation journey.
Delivered by Merlin ICT, the European project supporting market-oriented researchers, SMEs and start-ups to consider the full potential of their research and to shape ideas and outputs into innovations to be ready for market validation and commercialisation, and...
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