CB1 is really coming to life now. Amazon’s removal vans are at the door of its new Station Square home, and Apple’s distinctive logo has popped up round the corner on Hills Road, as hundreds of new engineers join Microsoft’s artificial intelligence experts at Cambridge’s very own world-class tech hub.
It’s music to my ears. To know that the world’s best voice-controlled digital assistant, Alexa, is being developed just over the road; that, just around the corner, Microsoft’s best engineers are using machine intelligence and cloud computing techniques to dramatically quicken the pace of cancer research; and that on Hills Road, tech giant Apple is trying to find a way to stop iPhone screens cracking every time they are dropped is all very exciting for a technology nut like me.
We have Alexa in Snapdragon’s new East of England office, at 22 Station Road, and are working out the best way to use it. Team diary management is a pet project of mine. We wonder how we can get it to alert us to planning industry news and developments. And that’s what is so exciting about CB1 and Cambridge in general – you feel ahead of the curve. Driverless cars and drone deliveries will be tested here later this year.
Snapdragon is joining this trio of tech giants in investing in Cambridge’s workforce. Our new, bigger office is home to a growing East of England team with a first-class working knowledge of the region following a successful couple of years and a series of new client wins. The team now includes a former researcher to Cambridge MP, Daniel Zeichner, the lead parliamentary assistant to Deputy Speaker and Saffron Walden MP, Sir Alan Haselhurst, and is led by a former Cambridge News journalist and seasoned political, media and community relations consultant and Cambridge United season ticket holder: me. It’s a good mix of skills and experience and we’re working hard to achieve another year of growth in the business.
Cambridge must grow. There are plans for more than 33,000 houses to be built over the next fifteen years which will see an additional 50,000 people move into Cambridge and the surrounding area. They must be able to get around the city in the way people are used to in world-class cities. This is a huge challenge, THE challenge for the city. Amazon and Apple are relative newcomers, but Cambridge’s innovative researchers and entrepreneurs have been using technology to disrupt industries and solve transport problems for decades.
One of these companies may one day become the first UK Facebook or Google. Cambridgeshire County Council has shrewdly announced £1.6m of new funding for a Cambridge company to develop a Smart Cambridge app that will help all the Amazon engineers, Cambridge academics and students, and property PR professionals to travel around the city more efficiently and beat its choking traffic. Think Google Maps on steroids.
When held up on the road in the morning it’s an inspiring thought that, in a post-Brexit world, a Cambridge-based engineer may make the breakthrough that helps solve the UK’s transport woes and, in turn, unlock the housing market, or a Microsoft researcher may even cure cancer just around the corner from our office. At Snapdragon we are inspired by the potential of technology to improve our work and the way the property industry consults, communicates, and transacts its business. Apple and Amazon’s voice-controlled artificial intelligence devices continue to improve. You just need to know how to modify them for your business. “Alexa, which planning applications are being heard in Cambridge this week?”