Azara Blog: Silicon Fen alive and well

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Date published: 2005/02/09

The Financial Times says (subscription service):

Nearly a year after its market debut, Cambridge Silicon Radio, Cambridge's latest star technology company, is still shining brightly, with exponential growth figures and a market capitalisation of £456m - 50 per cent higher than on float.

The company's float on the London Stock Exchange last February was a psychologically important event for Cambridge, breaking the initial public offering drought that followed the bursting of the technology bubble and reassuring investors that the "Cambridge phenomenon" is still working.

It is not just the fact that CSR managed to float, raising £39m, that is important. But the company - which makes Bluetooth chips used for connecting devices such as mobile phones, headsets and PCs to each other without wires - has also gone from strength to strength since the float.

Profits have been growing by 20 per cent or 30 per cent each quarter, as increasing numbers of Bluetooth-enabled devices come to market. Many are hoping that, if the trend continues, CSR will be Cambridge's next £1bn company, joining the ranks of peers such as Arm and Autonomy.

"I feel now for the first time in 25 years that we finally have critical mass in Cambridge," says Hermann Hauser, director of Amadeus Capital Partners, a venture capital group. "Cambridge is the only place in Europe where this has really happened."

Others hold similar views. Doug Richard, founder and chairman of Library House, the Cambridge-based research company, and one of the judges on the hit BBC investment programme Dragon's Den, says: "The Cambridge cluster has just tipped over and a period of explosive growth is ahead. It manages to attract a very large quantity of capital without variation."

New research from Library House shows that the city is one of the main centres of technology innovation in Europe. It gets the lion's share of technology investment, attracting more than 25 per cent of the UK's venture capital investments and 8 per cent of the total in Europe.

Of course Hermann Hauser and Doug Richard are Cambridge cheerleaders, so they are hardly going to say anything else. If you look at the number of empty office blocks in town this is not a booming city. But hopefully things can only get better. There are zillions of new houses and flats being built in Cambridge, and it would be good if they were occupied by somebody.

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