This article appeared in Business Weekly's 'Brain Gain', August 15th, 2013
As one of the most successful clusters of technology businesses in Britain, there has never been a better time to build a company in Cambridge.
But it’s not just cutting-edge science-based businesses that are reaping the rewards – a supporting network of innovative service providers has sprung up to support the global efforts of such a rich network of technology firms and a world-class university.
One of these companies is digital creative agency Onespacemedia. Since being founded in 2008, Onespacemedia has enjoyed rapid expansion - due largely to the relationships it has forged with many of Cambridge’s key institutions.
Rather than serving purely as a client services outfit, the company offers a strategy-led approach to web design and development and serves as a strategic partner to businesses with difficult problems and tight deadlines as well as brand-conscious academic institutions such as the University of Cambridge and organisations that commercialise IP.
“Cambridge has an enormous concentration of intellectual capital and the city’s executives are smart people who won’t have the wool pulled over their eyes. These guys expect more than just ‘service’ and need their partners to add significant value to their businesses,” says James Cotton, Onespacemedia’s founder and MD.
“We’ve always done things differently. We take an academic approach to all of our projects and spend a huge amount of time on research and planning before even considering design or code.
“It’s crucial that we work hand-in-hand with the client to get right under the skin of what is often a complex creative problem – that way, when we approach the build, we’re properly armed with the knowledge we need to deliver a solution that covers all angles of the brief.
“Further to that, we ensure that we’ve got systems in place to measure the success of work and deliver quantifiable impact. We leave no stone unturned.”
This approach has caught the attention of some of Cambridge’s best-known companies and institutions. Cotton believes that the combination of consistently delivering successful projects combined with the city’s unique network effect has been a critical factor in the expansion of the company. Onespacemedia has grown from two people to a team of ten in less than two years.
“When you prove to your clients that you produce great work that delivers exactly on what was agreed, it becomes easy to develop long term, trust based relationships – and that’s what makes us excited. We jump on the chance to become an ‘extension’ of a client’s operation. It’s the best way to combine our technical expertise with the client’s business knowledge and really capitalise on the ability of both.”
As well as delivering technical solutions to some of the region’s biggest names, Onespacemedia runs an ongoing internship and work experience program in an effort to help cultivate the region’s young, creative and technical talent. Under the guidance of the technical and creative leads, interns are encouraged to work on real projects from day one - given the chance to absorb the processes of a fast-paced, creative agency.
Cotton said: “In an area with such a wealth of successful, deeply technical businesses, it’s important that the creative industry is nurturing and encouraging the kind of first-class talent that is so heavily in demand to support it.
“Our standards are high - but we’re an open, welcoming team and it’s very important to us that we can combine an intern’s often excellent skill set with our proven industrial experience and make the experience meaningful for both.
“Typically, the best creative talent heads straight for London for the best opportunities. We’re about keeping the talent in Cambridge and giving them an experience that is on-par with, if not better than anything in the city.”
Commenting on Cambridge’s success as a technology hub, Cotton described that the deeply connected, rich technology ecosystem is often integral to the successes in the region.
“Cambridge is an exciting place to work. It’s the home of some of the most successful businesses on the planet and the dynamism and excitement of the tech community is testament to that. At the centre of these successes is real, professional and meaningful collaboration – and it’s a pleasure for us as an agency to be a part of that.”