At a Glance
Strong backing in its Altran parent
Still somewhat under the radar
"Small and specialized"
About Cambridge Consultants Ltd
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?
101 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
Phone: (617) 532 4700
Employer Type: Public
Stock Symbol: ALT
Stock Exchange: Euronext Paris
CEO: Brian Moon
2009 Employees (All Locations): 300
Cambridge, United Kingdom