But what should we call it?
Cambridge Consultants is a product and technology developer
operating out of two locations on opposite sides of the Atlantic,
both in Cambridge. The answer to that weak brainteaser, of
course, is that one office is in Cambridge, Mass., and the other
Cambridge, England, making the choice of name almost a given.
The firm was founded in 1960 by Tim Eiloart, David Southward and
Rodney Dale, all Cambridge University alumni looking to bring some
academic rigor to the business world. In 1971, it was picked
up by the consultancy Arthur D. Little, resulting in a 30-plus-year
relationship that ended (or was significantly altered, anyway) only
when Arthur D. Little went bankrupt in 2002, and sold off certain
assets and business units. The French company Altran stepped
in, acquiring the Arthur D. Little name and partially funding
Cambridge's management in retaking ownership of their firm.
As a result, Cambridge acts as an independent entity within
Altran's network of companies.
Little brother office makes good
The Cambridge, Mass., office opened its doors in 2004, and the
firm has since seen its revenue from U.S. activities rise to 50
percent of its full annual take. As a result, Cambridge has
prioritized expansion in America, even relocating the headquarters
to the younger Cambridge in June 2007. Subsequent steps in
the plan include hiring new staff and seeking acquisitions
Stateside. CEO Brian Moon has also publicly stated that the
firm intends to partner with Boston-area companies in the creation
of new startups.
The firm's services include developing products, creating and
licensing intellectual property, and advising on technology for
international clients. Some of the sectors it serves are the
automotive, consumer products, health care, industrial products,
wireless communication, transport, semiconductor and defense
industries. Cambridge has a reputation for being innovative,
and employs over 200 engineers and scientists to "combine creative
thinking with technical acumen."
The firm has developed a series of processes by which it explores
the possibility of creating a breakthrough product for a
client. These processes are "visioning," a simulation of
three distinct strategic directions for the client that can be
distilled into a single, best choice; research portfolio creation,
wherein consultants assemble the various research and development
projects that will best serve a client's goals; structured idea
management, or an attempt to gain full support within an
organization for a new concept, no matter how radical; and
optimized-for-innovation QFD (quality function deployment), an
assessment of the new concept meant to determine what must be
changed or traded out before implementation.
We can rebuild it
Cambridge's technology consulting practice has a few success
stories up its sleeve. In a project for Bayer Healthcare, the
firm was asked to correct a design flaw in the company's Clinitek
Status point-of-care urinalysis instrument. Cambridge
isolated a mechanical problem in the instrument and developed a new
design that could be incorporated into the client's manufacturing
process without a significant increase in lead time or cost.
Following the project, the urinalysis product entered clinical
trials and later enjoyed a successful market launch.
In a project for an automotive industry supplier, the firm was
charged with developing a design process for the client's prototype
hydrogen sensor that would satisfy the industry's safety
standards. Cambridge set about the task with an additional
goal of ensuring that the new process and supply chain would not
compromise the overall quality of the product. The ultimate
outcome was a hydrogen sensor that held up under evaluation both by
safety inspectors and by customers. The firm also assisted
the client by investigating alternative markets for a family of
products based on modified versions of the technology.
In February 2009, the firm announced that it had signed a
framework agreement with the University of Oxford to tackle a
significant problem from the world of science: providing design
services and industrialization advice on a project to develop the
world's largest telescope. Known as the square kilometer
array), the new telescope will apparently be thousands of times
more powerful than the leading specimens today when it is
completed, an event scheduled for 2020. Cambridge's role is
to tackle the problem of "how to condition and process signals from
the square kilometre array's 40,000,000 receivers whilst minimizing
cost and power." Should be a cinch, right?