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Mayor James Palmer signs an agreement to work towards forming an official Partnership Accord with Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mayor James Palmer signs an agreement to work towards forming an official Partnership Accord with Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mayor Palmer was in Boston last week to co-sign the document with the Cambridge, MA Mayor Marc McGovern. The two areas have much in common, with Cambridge, MA having two of the world’s leading universities, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and, like the Greater Cambridge area, also has a burgeoning life sciences sector and high-tech business clusters.

The two Mayors will work together to shape the Accord, which will include seeking opportunities for mutual trade and investment, shared educational and business partnerships, an exchange of information and ideas, as well as fostering cultural ties. The Accord, when fully formed, will partner the whole of the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority area with Cambridge, MA.

Both areas also have similar challenges in balancing their rapid growth with meeting the housing and transport needs of the people that live there. Part of the future Accord would see a commitment to sharing ideas and solutions on infrastructure to make growth sustainable into the future.

On the signing of the Declaration of Intent to form Partnership Accord with the Mayor of Cambridge, MA, Mayor James Palmer said:

“I was delighted to be able to sign the declaration of Intent to form a Partnership Accord with Mayor McGovern. Cambridgeshire & Peterborough and Cambridge Massachusetts have a huge amount in common and there is much we can learn from each other across a number of areas. There is also much to be gained from increased trade and investment between the two dynamic centres that we represent.”

Cambridge, MA is part of the greater metropolitan area of Boston and it is well known for its Kendall Square business district, described as one of the most innovative square miles of enterprise on the planet thanks to its quantity of creative and pioneering businesses based there. It has 200 life sciences-related companies as well as 80 venture capital firms, which are helping to fuel the innovation economy.

Meanwhile Cambridge in the UK has 4,500 knowledge intensive businesses within 25 miles of the city and its enterprises file more patents than the next four best UK cities combined. The University of Cambridge is recognised as the world’s second best, and the city can boast creating 98 Nobel Prize winners. More than 25 of the world’s largest corporations are based in Cambridge.

Furthermore, with both centres offering a similar business climate, several major corporations including Microsoft, Amazon and Genzyme to name a few, choose to have a base in both cities.

The agreement signed saw both Mayors committing to:

  • Lead the process in our respective Governments to adopt a Partnership Accord
  • Promote the mutual exchange of ideas and information between the two cities
  • Encourage and enable contact between similar organisations and individuals within our cities and;
  • Establish relations to lead the development of cultural and economic ties

As well as a signing ceremony taking place, Mayor Palmer and Deputy Mayor Charles Roberts attended meetings at Cambridge City Council to discuss housing and transport issues. Mayor Palmer and Deputy Mayor Roberts also met with a number of City officials, councillors and representatives from both Harvard University, MIT, the business community and key individuals who had shaped major infrastructure initiatives in Massachusetts, including Boston’s ‘Big Dig’.

With Cambridge MA part of a greater metropolitan mass transit system, Mayor Palmer, who is also planning a mass transit underground metro for Cambridge, was keen to see how it was helping the city to thrive. He was also interested in learning about some of the strategies used by Cambridge, MA in delivering more affordable housing for its residents.

Mayor Palmer said:

“Clearly there are significant economic synergies between the areas we represent and as we know, there are a number of world leading companies who base themselves in both areas. We’re both world leaders in life science, homes of thriving tech clusters and to three of the greatest universities on the planet.

“During my visit, one of the things what I found most remarkable was how many of the challenges we face are the same. Particularly on transport and housing. Like our Cambridge, Cambridge Massachusetts has a booming economy this has led to an overheated property market and a transport system under strain. During meetings that took place throughout the day we learnt much relating to managing the implications of significant growth. In many respects, it would seem that Cambridge Massachusetts are slightly further ahead than we are in developing solutions to many of the common challenges that we face. Cambridge Massachusetts has the benefit of being part of a comprehensive public transit system and has also developed a number of interesting and successful strategies to provide affordable housing.

“It’s hard to think of an area we can learn so much from. Going forward I’m keen for a full Partnership Accord to be agreed as soon as possible and for it to become meaningful platform that provides significant benefits to both parties. Since the visit I’ve spoken to a number of businesses that have bases in both locations who are excited by the potential of a Partnership Accord.”

Mayor Palmer also attended the BIO Conference (Global Life Science Conference) in Boston where he met with leading representatives from the sector, including CEO of One Nucleus Tony Jones, who was a key player in the business mission we were a part of, and sought to secure more trade and investment for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. He was taken on a tour of the life science cluster in Cambridge and met with Dr Susan Windham-Bannister, ex-President of the Mass Life Science Center. Susan is a leading light in the sector and strongly credited with helping enable Cambridge/Boston life sciences to be the one of the most significant clusters in the world. Following this meeting Mayor Palmer met with the International Trade Minister, Baroness Fairhead.

Minister of State for the Department for International Trade, Baroness Fairhead, said:

“This agreement is a great example of collaboration between two likeminded regions in order to develop productive trading ties between the UK and US. I look forward to seeing the UK as a whole and our US counterparts benefit from this partnership in the near future.

“With UK businesses at the heart of our export strategy, the Department for International Trade will continue to work with stakeholders to support industry nationwide to trade and invest overseas.

Mayor Palmer added:

“Local and State Government in Massachusetts has played an active role in facilitating the significant growth of the life science sector in Cambridge and Boston MA. Establishing the Mass Life Science Center was a significant achievement and has undoubtedly played a key role in the success story of the life science sector.

“I found the visit extremely valuable in gaining a greater understanding of how growth has been promoted but also how the implications of such growth, particularly in the field of housing and transport have been managed. Ultimately its crucial to ensure that economic growth, wherever it takes place, works for the whole community.

Low-cost airline Primera Air has also recently started direct flights from London Stansted to Boston, increasing accessibility between Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and Cambridge Massachusetts at a more affordable price than traditional carriers. Mayor Palmer used the service as part of the visit and praised the new route.

Mayor Palmer said:

“With direct flights between London Stansted and Boston accessibility has never been greater.”

A copy of the Declaration of Intent to form a Partnership Accord can be viewed below:

Partnership Accord Page 1

Partnership Accord Page 2