It’s not a competition, of course, but let’s indulge in a little back and forth between 2 of Britain’s most venerable University towns.
Both Oxford and Cambridge have thriving tech scenes; some might even say they rival London in terms of their tech productivity, if not their tech PR.
On Monday we revealed that Cambridgeshire will be losing ownership of Britain’s jewel-in-the-tech-crown, Arm Technologies; the chip maker which ships some 15bn devices every year is being acquired by SoftBank, the Japanese telecoms and media conglomerate led by charismatic tech-evangelist Masayoshi Son, who sees the company as the basis for a chip-led Internet of Things revolution.
Still it’s not all bad news for the region; after woo-ing Arm’s chairman Stuart Chambers in the Turkish seaside resort of Marmaris, Son called new PM Theresa May personally, according to the FT, to check the British government would not oppose the deal – which they didn’t – the sweetener being Son’s pledge to practically double the number of employees at Arm, and keep the HQ in Cambridge.
Yesterday we suggested that Oxbotica, an Oxfordshire based company whose autonomy software powers the UKs first ever self-driving car, and one of the Wall Street Journal’s 10 Tech Companies to Watch in 2015, could be the next big British tech success story.
One all, you might say, but now news reaches the HT of Cambridge Medical Robotics $20.3m Series A funding round. Amongst the investors are ABB Technology Ventures, LGT Global Invest and Cambridge Innovation Capital, a Cambridge Cluster (affiliated with the university) based business which invests in Intellectual Property) and “strives to build leading businesses using a long term return strategy”.
Cambridge Medical Robotics develops next generation universal robotics systems for minimal access, “keyhole” surgery, with a vision to “make minimal access surgery universally accessible and affordable by significantly expanding the range of procedures that can be performed robotically”.
According to the company, the market for these kinds of devices currently stands at £4bn of annual global revenues, and is expected to reach £20bn by 2025.
The company began clinical cadaveric trials in June 2016 and will use the funds from the Series A to expand its operations and technology globally, and to grow the team in preparation for regulatory approval.
The company, which is led by Chairman Reynir Indahl, and CEO Martin Frost, has appointed “Dr Robert Tansley of CIC, Massimo Muzzi of ABB and Egor Kulkov of existing investor Escala Capital to its board of Directors. Says Frost: “We welcome the decision of ABB, a global leader in robotics, to cooperate with CMR in areas ranging from component sourcing to manufacturing as we now enter a critical phase in production and commercialisation.”
Robotically assisted keyhole surgery can reduce trauma and scarring, and improve recovery times, the company says on its website, but the techniques are hard to master for humans and require lengthy and expensive training. Robot assisted surgery can help extend the careers of human surgeons, provide invaluable assistance and significantly reduce costs for healthcare providers.
CMR say that they have “recruited all the competencies necessary to meet the demands of medical device development”, and are in line with FDA Good Manufacturing Practice and Risk Management protocols.
The company also has more than 50 patent applications filed in the UK or under the patent co-operation treaty protecting their disruptive tech innovations.
Of course, these are just cherry picked examples of innovative tech companies coming out of these two historic University towns and it would be churlish to declare “Oxford, over to you”.
On the other hand, there is no harm in promoting some gamification in the interests of promoting both tech sectors, and in strictly PR terms, our inbox makes it 2-1 to Cambridge currently.
Doubtless there are other tech regions out there doing disruptive things with technology (at least 21 of them, according to Tech City UK – 74% of tech businesses in the UK are based outside of London) that are helping preserve a post Brexit UK’s reputation as a key European tech hub.
The HT is hoping to hear from them (and promises to try and keep score)!