Saturday, September 12, 2015

'Magic' matters

Last week, IfM hosted a visit to Cambridge by a group of young Japanese technology entrepreneurs who wanted to learn about the Cambridge Phenomenon. The visitors were part of a Japanese government-sponsored programme (GTEP) that aims to encourage academic researchers to think about ways of using the outputs of research to create social and economic value through entrepreneurship.  As part of the programme, they visited ideaSpace at West Cambridge to learn about the role of this important part of the Cambridge innovation ecosystem. The visitors asked the usual questions about ideaSpace entry requirements, costs and services, number of members, etc, and the ever-helpful Belinda and Jess (the office managers for ideaSpace City and West, respectively) addressed all these questions professionally and clearly. The visitors were clearly impressed by the popularity and success of ideaSpace, especially when contrasted with their observations of less successful innovation support facilities elsewhere in Europe. So someone asked 'What makes ideaSpace work?'.  The answer? Many things, but among the most important are Belinda and Jess. Every day, by listening, connecting, cajoling, guiding, and reminding – and (from time to time) partying – with the ideaSpace community members, these two ensure that ideaSpace is able to provide a really effective link in the chain of local innovation support activities.
Cambridge is full of people like Belinda and Jess who play this vital -  frequently hidden - role in adding 'the magic' that makes so many elements of the Cambridge phenomenon work.  Without them, Cambridge would not be so phenomenal.