I have learnt many things from the various local experts that I have met since being selected as the Conservatives’ prospective parliamentary candidate for Cambridge. Some of the most interesting have been about what makes Cambridge such a successful high-tech cluster.
I had always assumed that the factors which helped Cambridge become a centre for high-tech industry were the local universities, the availability of credit and the way in which the city welcomes outsiders.
All this has been confirmed by those I have spoken with. But another point which people keep emphasising strongly to me is that Cambridge can only maintain and bolster its position if it can also offer a high level of general well-being – that means good housing, good schools and good transport. It also means good job opportunities for the spouses and partners of researchers.
In other words, the innovative companies that ensure Cambridge is a successful cluster are interested in exactly the same issues as everyone else.
The temptation for policymakers has been to assume that, because Cambridge has been successful in the past, then it will be so in the future. But, when we are competing with Silicon Valley and the like, then we cannot afford to take such a relaxed approach. And we cannot afford to let the politicians that rule over us treat the area less fairly than elsewhere, as they have sometimes done in the past.