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Our brand relaunch has landed just as we ramp up our commitment to The Engine, the ambitious venture capital firm spun out of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to support ‘Tough Tech’ companies and solve key challenges in climate change, human health and advanced systems. What’s particularly energizing is that as a strategic partner, we get to engage with founders of disruptive start-ups who are so passionate, driven and mission focused. The alignment with our own renewed purpose couldn’t be stronger. 

In case you missed it, my 800 or so CC colleagues around the world are celebrating a bold refresh of our brand marque, visual identity, vision and purpose. We’re rallying around our belief in a future unconstrained by current thinking – not a self-satisfied sound bite but a true reflection of our track record of delivering technologies, products and services that make a difference to people, business and the world. Tough innovation challenges call for ambitious responses, which is a sentiment that suits The Engine’s raison d’être as perfectly as it does ours. 

At The Engine, we are driven to cultivate Boston’s innovation ecosystem and cement it as an international hub for Tough Tech. By partnering with companies like CC, we can expand this impact to a global scale, and accelerate business and societal transformation that has deep, complex technology at the center of it all.

Katie Rae, CEO and Managing Partner, The Engine

The Engine is a refreshing attempt to create something truly distinctive. At the time of its launch five or six years ago, plenty of VCs were focused on software initiatives and internet-based companies in the Airbnb mold. Instead, The Engine’s founders wanted to create an ecosystem for tough, long-term ventures that require time and support as well as capital. We really relate to that. 

Sustainability, climate and health challenges 

This incredible alignment of interests and ambitions that we have as organizations doesn’t end with the global problems of  climate, health and infrastructure that The Engine is seeking to solve. The soon to be complete hub is in many ways technology agnostic – which is another way of describing the incredible array of companies and technologies sitting under The Engine’s masthead. Like CC, the portfolio is concerned with everything from AI to advanced manufacturing and materials; from biotech and life sciences to food, agriculture and energy; from IoT and mobility to robotics, semiconductors and space. 

Thanks to our multidisciplinary expertise and global reach, there is an uncanny overlap between the ambitions of this venture ecosystem and what we can bring to the table. I think perhaps what has resonated most with their portfolio is that we are able to support the aspirations of such a broad range of innovators. Let me explain. We’ve been involved in supporting the ambitions of three very different companies within The Engine ecosystem. Kytopen is pioneering transformative new technologies in cell therapy; Hedron is putting a novel network into space to support 24/7 comms; and Quaise is unlocking geothermal energy through millimeter wave drilling technology. Without blowing our trumpet unduly, it’s certainly rare to have the breadth and depth of capabilities to support these types of opportunities. 

I also see similarities to CC in the three pillars that The Engine presents to the world as a value proposition. Of course, there’s the obvious one of capital – which is the lifeblood these spirited ventures need and kind of goes without saying. But there’s also infrastructure and the fact that for their companies to grow and flourish they need the labs, equipment and research space to do it in. Like CC, The Engine cares about this kind of vital investment, and is in the process of moving to a phenomenal new 150,000 sq ft facility in the heart of Kendall Square. 

The third pillar, and one that really resonates with me, is the commitment to network and community. The kind of challenges being confronted are Herculean and do not present the type of obstacles that can be hurdled by a single company. It takes a village. So, I love that The Engine has deliberately created an open culture of shared ambition that allows people like us to contribute on a community level. 

Invaluable opportunities to learn 

Of course, the relationship has mutual benefits and there’s plenty of real positives for the CC team to make the most of. Undoubtedly, the network element is high on the list. It’s great to be able to continue to integrate with one of the most influential innovation networks around. Hand in hand with it comes invaluable opportunities to learn – in fact I’m pretty sure I and my colleagues can learn a ton by collaborating with companies that are setting out to do transformative things that have never been attempted before. 

If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well – so I want to make the point that we’re fully committed to the partnership. We’re not involved because we want to hang our new logo on their wall. We are investing, supporting and actively engaging as much as we can to become a valued part of The Engine’s programming. Putting our money where our logo is, as it were. We had to earn our right to be at the table – as I mentioned I think our breadth and depth of experience helped our cause – and we are determined to stay there.  

I like to think that perhaps early on The Engine recognized our proven expertise when it comes to taking breakthrough ideas to market. Again, that’s a great fit. The venture ecosystem is set up to discover and launch great new companies by putting supportive capital, infrastructure and community in place. If we are relied upon to play to our strengths in taking technology from the lab bench to commercial reality then great, bring it on.  

The reason that we are investing at the highest level is because we want to be a partner in impact, to accelerate technology advancement and have a real effect on the world. This is CC being authentic to our brand, so we’re really looking forward to crystallizing our role in the coming months and years. It’s going to be quite a ride. Watch out for more news, insights and opinions from the heart of this exciting venture ecosystem soon and in the meantime, do please drop me an email to discuss the topic in more detail. It’ll be great to hear from you. 

Author
Mike Dunkley
SVP, Bioinnovation

Mike rejoined Cambridge Consultants in May 2019 to lead growth of the Bioinnovation business in the US. His previous experience with the company has included hands-on technology and product development roles in the UK and the launch and growth of Cambridge Consultants business in the US.

Mike has over 20 years of experience spanning product and technology consulting, design consulting, and technology leadership in start-up environments. His primary market experience focuses on medical technology, pharmaceutical drug delivery, and healthcare delivery and has included biomanufacturing, agricultural technology, food production, and energy generation.

He has significant experience working with large multinationals and early-stage ventures helping to define and oversee large and complex development programs often with demanding timeline, regulatory, and organizational challenges.

Mike received his BA, MA, and PhD in engineering from the University of Cambridge, UK.