The University of Cambridge has appointed Gerard Grech, former CEO of Tech Nation, to lead its Founders initiative.

Grech has joined Cambridge Enterprise to lead the flagship initiative that will support and accelerate university and alum founders starting and scaling technology companies.

Founders at The University of Cambridge is launched as Cambridge looks to become Europe’s centre for science and the main challenger to startups emerging from great US universities, in particular MIT and Stanford. 

The Founders programme aims to supercharge entrepreneurs building companies within the Cambridge ecosystem, in particular supporting deeptech founders building transformative companies that benefit both society and the UK economy. 

Recent research from Dealroom shows that while Cambridge is the third most important science hub in the world, it has a greater density of founders per inhabitant than any other global university city, including Boston, Oxford and London. 

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Grech brings deep experience from his time as founding chief executive of Tech Nation, the private and publicly-funded organisation that supported ambitious tech entrepreneurs for almost a decade across the country before the government pulled funding. He is also a governing board member of Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. 

During his time at Tech Nation, the organisation worked with over 1,300 digital companies to scale, including a third of all tech unicorns ever created in the UK. Companies supported included Revolut, Deliveroo and Darktrace. In April Tech Nation was acquired by Founders Forum.

The appointment of Gerard to lead a founder-focused initiative signals the University’s commitment to commercialising more of its world-leading research into global companies, particularly those tackling problems including climate change and an ageing population with technology solutions. 

“I firmly believe significant technological innovation will emerge from the University of Cambridge and its surrounding ecosystem over the coming years,” said Grech.

“Cambridge already has a global reputation for producing world-leading technology businesses such as ARM Holdings, Darktrace, Featurespace and Healx. As humanity’s challenges grow ever more complex and deeply interconnected, pioneering research and innovation is our key to finding solutions. 

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“Creating fertile pathways for our top innovators to bring their game-changing solutions to market is vital and I couldn’t be more excited to be leading Founders at the University of Cambridge at this pivotal moment.

“With this new commitment from the University and Cambridge Enterprise, entrepreneurs in the city can be assured that this is the ecosystem for them to be in, if they want to make a difference in the world.”

Diarmuid O’Brien, chief executive of Cambridge Enterprise, said: “Founders at the University of Cambridge will be a game changer that builds on decades of commitment from the University to entrepreneurship. 

“It is designed to combine capital, networks and talent to scale our spin-out companies more quickly and providing them a platform to make a mark globally.”

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