The Cambridge Wireless Cluster is in the world’s top six and its companies have combined market capitalisations of more than $23bn. Wireless technology companies in the East of England contribute many millions of pounds to the region’s GDP. Member organisations range in size from large multi-national companies to small start-ups, based both in the Cambridge area and from further afield.
In addition, Cambridge Wireless has a number of partnerships with like-minded organisations around the world.
Q. What proportion of the Cambridge Wireless membership are overseas owned companies?
We estimate that approximately 20 per cent of our members are foreign-owned, although the vast majority of our members trade internationally, of course.
A large number have established physical operations in a range of overseas territories. Also, as an organisation, we engage with other international wireless clusters.
For example, we have in place a collaboration agreement with the world-leading CommNexus San Diego.
Q. Do overseas owned companies mostly keep themselves to themselves or do they endeavour to integrate within the local wireless community?
The latter tends to be the case. We encourage an inclusive culture as a matter of course. It is significant that major international companies such as Rohde & Schwarz and Nokia try to maintain a UK presence.
Rohde & Schwarz is a leading supplier of solutions in the fields of test and measurement, broadcasting, radiomonitoring and radiolocation as well as mission-critical radiocommunications.
It has a global presence and a dedicated service network in over 70 countries, around 7,500 employees and achieved a net revenue of €1.4 billion in fiscal year July 07 to June 08. Although the company headquarters are in Munich, it estimates that 80 per cent of total turnover is achieved outside Germany.
Nokia is a Finnish owned business and the world’s biggest mobile phone maker. The company has 40 per cent market share in handset sales. That means that nearly one half of phones sold are built by Nokia. For companies of this stature to desire a close working relationship with the wireless cluster in the East of England speaks for itself.
Q. Within the Cambridge Wireless network what special interest groups are of particular interest to international companies?
A. Microsoft, Rohde & Schwarz, Nokia, Qualcomm, TTP and Cambridge Consultants (now global players in their own right) and AlcatelLucent have all put forward their own SIG Champions for our various groups.
Our activities are based around a number of Special Interest Groups, each focused on a specific technology and/or market area. SIG meetings provide opportunities for member organisations to meet, form partnerships and exploit opportunities for new business.
Our interests include all major wireless technologies. These include: 3G/WCDMA/HSPA, Bluetooth, WiMAX, Ultra Wide Band (UWB), LTE, NFC, CDMA, WiFi, ZigBee and RFID.
Q. Has the demise of the Motorola R & D centre at Melbourn, near Royston on the Cambridgeshire/Hertfordshire border led to a reduction of activity in the R & D parts of the community?
A. Far from it. Our members report strong ongoing commitment to research and healthy development pipelines; the break-up of Motorola actually led to a large number of new start-ups.
Business Weekly reported that the break-up of what was the former TTPCom set-up had triggered “a cascade of new communications ventures that may well plant the seeds for a world-leading mobile phone cluster, providing some of the latest advances in post-3GSM technology.” In double quick time, five new operations were established from the chips and protocol division Motorola closed, driven by a growing appetite from Taiwanese manufacturers to increase their involvement in the sector together with the world class expertise that the TTPCom operation had been developing for over 20 years.
Ones to watch, according to Business Weekly, include Camitri Technologies and Qasara – both Cambridge-based companies that were founded and staffed by former TTPCom employees, while the Taiwanese firms MStar SemiConductor and MediaTek established development centres in Melbourn and Cambourne, near Cambridge and these are also manned by former TTPCom employees.
TTPCom founder and former chief executive, Tony Milbourn – who is now the head of Camitri – has said: “In many ways it is a very positive mixture – the creativity of welleducated European engineers with the focused manufacturing expertise of the Taiwanese.”
Q. Have you had any feedback to the recent Chinese Telecommunications Mission organised by East of England International? Did you have a chance to meet with the delegates and exchange views?
The feedback has all been very positive. There has been lots of interest shown from amongst those delegates in our Cambridge Wireless International Conference (CWIC): www.cambridgewireless.co.uk which is being held from April 30 to May 1. Also, on March 5, we are holding a Wireless China SIG addressing China and 3G.
Q. What can delegates expect from the international conference?
Thought leadership on the future of the wireless industry in the next five year at a global level, plus an impressive line-up of international speakers.
Our chairman, Dr. David Cleevely, remarks: “The two-day event brings together a remarkable range of expertise, knowledge and insight. We draw on present day case studies to show how the user experience will continue to evolve in parallel with the ever broadening role that wireless is playing in our every day lives.”
Q. Why do overseas-owned companies choose to locate specifically in the Cambridge area?
Cambridge has gained genuine international kudos for the calibre of its innovation in a number of Science & Technology sectors.
The University of Cambridge is another major attraction, putting companies close to a world-rated source of scientific excellence.
I also believe that the eco-system that has evolved around Cambridge innovation and the creation of a mature supply chain are significant factors that support the growth of international businesses that are based in our cluster.