The University of Cambridge has announced that Gerard Grech, former CEO of the disbanded UK government-backed tech incubator, Tech Nation, will head its flagship initiative that funds alumni in tech. 

Founders at the University of Cambridge is an organisation seeking to build on the university’s current track record of 23 unicorns from its alumni, which includes Arm Holdings, Raspberry Pi and Swiftkey. 

The initiative also reaffirms Cambridge’s intention to become Europe’s centre for science and technology, challenging the existing leadership position of Boston’s MIT and California’s Stanford. 

Grech brings a wealth of experience supporting upcoming tech entrepreneurs during his time at Tech Nation, which ceased operations in March this year after the UK government cut its key funding

Speaking on his appointment, Grech stated that he was confident in the University of Cambridge’s position in the tech ecosystem. 

“As humanity’s challenges grow ever more complex and deeply interconnected, pioneering research and innovation is our key to finding solutions,” Grech said. 

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By GlobalData

Grech explained that with the university’s commitment, “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.” 

The UK’s tech sector is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.6% between the years of 2021 and 2026, making the market’s cumulative revenue of around $1.6trn, according to research company GlobalData.

This growth will be rapidly accelerated by enterprise efforts to increase the number of UK start-ups and unicorns. Currently, the UK holds around 19% of Western Europe’s total revenue in technology. 

Cambridge’s vice chancellor, professor Debbie Prentice, is optimistic that the founders initiative will consolidate the university’s foothold in the global tech market. 

“The launch of Founders at the University of Cambridge demonstrates the university’s commitment to societal impact through entrepreneurship,” Prentice said, “Grech’s appointment will offer us the right mix of leadership and experience in the field of technological innovation.”