City Spotlight: A Quick Guide to Franchising in Cambridge

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Cambridge is home to beautiful architecture, green spaces and one of the world’s leading academic institutions. The city’s reputation for excellence and innovation across sectors like bioscience and cleantech is enough to attract many businesses, but there are lots more reasons to consider franchising in Cambridge… 


Famous across the globe, the city has long been known for its world-leading educational facilities. Cambridge University has a history spanning more than 800 years, and an impressive list of alumni, from Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking to Sylvia Plath and Emma Thompson. 

Many of the university’s graduates choose to stay in the city for work, providing a healthy talent pool for growing businesses. But there’s more to Cambridge than its professional opportunities; the region is steeped in history and culture, and offers plenty of peaceful, secluded spots for outdoor relaxation. 

An overview of Cambridge

In total, 442,000 people call Cambridge home, and the city’s residents have an average age of 39.7, slightly lower than across England and Wales in general (40.3). Thanks to the relatively young population, a high proportion of people are aged 16-64. In fact, just over 63 percent of the city’s inhabitants are of ‘working age’, compared to 62.3 across England and Wales. 

Workers also earn slightly more in Cambridge than in other regions. Average salaries across the city range from £36,000 in Uttlesford to £43,600 in South Cambridgeshire. In the UK, people make an average of £38,600. 

Reflecting the region’s higher income brackets, Cambridge’s property is also slightly more expensive than in the rest of the UK. Homes tend to sell for around £405,000 in the city, compared to £314,000 elsewhere. On average, there are 2.51 residents per household. 


We see useful and generous support coming from some of the bigger companies to help fund and resource activities; for example, to bring young people from a much wider region into STEM subjects and host events from which everyone can learn.
—Peter Hewkin, Chief Executive of the Centre for Business Innovation

Given Cambridge’s emphasis on high-quality education, it’s not surprising almost 70 percent of its working-age population are qualified to NVQ4 level or above. And, on average, each person generates around £60,000 for the GDP per year.

Cambridge is also conveniently located to the north of London, with good connections to neighbouring areas. It takes around half an hour to reach Stansted Airport by road or rail, and 50 minutes to get to King’s Cross Station on the train. Plus, you can drive to Oxford or Birmingham in around two hours.

Running your own business in Cambridge

Cambridge is a highly productive city, with hundreds of businesses championing innovation and tech development. Today, the region’s rich commercial landscape provides a foundation for entrepreneurs exploring franchising in Cambridge. Here are the area’s top-performing sectors: 

  • Advanced manufacturing - This sector includes more than 500 businesses across the city, and has been bolstered by Cambridge University’s Institute for Manufacturing since 1998. Employees work in everything from industrial photonics and automation to manufacturing strategy and economic policies. The region is also home to several notable industry organisations, including the Maxwell Centre, the Welding Institute, the Inkjet Research Centre and Cambridge Graphene Centre. 

  • Agriculture - Cambridge and the surrounding region is one of the most agriculturally fertile areas in the UK, which is why you’ll find many organisations carrying out groundbreaking research in this sector. The cluster of farmers, scientists and technologists are based around the east of the city, and supported by organisations like The National Institute of Agricultural Botany and The Sainsbury's Laboratory. Their specialisms include food security and combatting climate change challenges.

  • Bioscience and healthcare - More than 330 world-leading biomedical and healthcare firms operate in Cambridge, with a combined workforce of over 12,000 people, and a total turnover of £2 billion. The region’s organisations form part of a European cluster of innovative companies, and specialise in pharma, medtech and both clinical and technical life sciences. Cambridge’s Biomedical Campus and Astrazeneca are just two of the region’s leading institutions.

  • Cleantech - The region’s cleantech sector is made up of 450 businesses with a market value of £1.15 billion. The city’s two major research institutions, Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University, are leading the way in areas like recycling, alternative fuels, biomass and renewables. At the moment, the region’s cleantech cluster is working to become Europe’s hub for this sector.

  • Digital - Cambridge is the UK’s third most densely populated region for digital tech companies. More than 20,000 people work in IT and telecommunications across Cambridge, where 2,800 digital businesses, including Apple, Microsoft and Samsung, generate a combined revenue of £3.7 billion. The area’s strengths include development in the ‘internet of things’, as well as online gaming and healthcare technology.

  • Tourism - Over eight million people visit Cambridge every year, generating roughly £835 million annually for its economy. In fact, more than one in five of the region’s employees work in the tourism sector. Combining a buzzing city centre with picturesque suburban villages and attractive rural landscapes, Cambridge has lots to offer people who travel to the area. 

Franchising in Cambridge

If you’re interested in franchising in Cambridge, it’s worth looking at the digital and tourism sectors, which are home to plenty of robust business models in the franchise world. The IT, retail, food and hospitality sectors in particular could hold lots of potential for those setting up businesses in the region. 

As a Cambridge franchisee, you’ll set up a business in a highly productive area with access to world-leading resources and infrastructure. The city is part of not only the Cambridge- Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc, but also the UK Innovation Corridor, which stretches all the way to London. 

Plus, you’ll have the chance to take part in the region’s various networking groups. There are more than 60 up and running, giving investors the chance to collaborate and share ideas. 

If you’d like to find out about the business landscape in different UK regions, see our other City Spotlight articles - just use the search bar to find them.

*Statistics taken from Plumplot.co.uk, CentreForCities.org and Meet-Cambridge.com

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