Barclays Eagle Labs: growing businesses in Cambridge

14 March 2019

Barclays has a UK-wide network of Eagle Labs – innovative co-working spaces designed to support local businesses and entrepreneurs – stretching from Bournemouth to Newcastle and covering Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. As the network expands, we talk to colleagues at two sites in Cambridge to find out how they serve their local communities. 

“Cambridge is the spiritual home of Eagle Labs,” says Benjamin Storey, Head of South and East Eagle Labs. “We had our first Maker Space launch in December 2015 and then we opened the first incubator in Cambridge in May 2016.”

Cambridge is home to two Barclays Eagle Labs: Cherry Hinton, situated in the south of the city, and Chesterton Road, which is close to Cambridge University’s Magdalene College. Although there is a lot of crossover between the two, they serve different parts of the community.

The Chesterton Road site is a co-working space supporting high-growth entrepreneurial businesses with access to free meeting rooms, superfast Wi-Fi – and, importantly, a beer fridge. Benjamin says: “Ultimately, there's a support network in there as well so there are events which are about helping businesses to grow and to scale, helping them find access to new talent and also mentoring, through Cambridge Judge Business School, which is a really valuable resource to use.”

3d printers

The Labs also have specialist tools to help with product developement like 3D printers

In the last five years, companies in the Cambridge Lab have raised more than £150 million in funding, employing over 200 people. “It’s a really good success story for the Lab,” says Benjamin.

Further Eagle Lab success

One of the Labs’ current residents is Satavia, a business that combines data and advanced analytics to help aviation and aerospace companies improve performance and reduce operating costs.

Debbie-Ellen Carr, Jessica Nelson and Dr Charles Laing learning how to code

The Cherry Hinton site offers lessons in coding

The company’s Chief Financial Officer Glen Clark explains how taking up Eagle Lab residency helped Satavia to grow: “This was a perfect opportunity for us really, it's a space where we could start off with a very small footprint and we could expand as we expanded the business.

“In terms of the space, it's a very vibrant working environment, there's lots of interesting things going on and Barclays is very helpful to us – they do our banking and they also provide a number of seminars and guest speakers who help us to take our business forward.”

Robots programmed to play table football

Robots can be programmed and remote-controlled to play table football

Debbie-Ellen Carr, Jessica Nelson and Dr Charles Laing learning how to programme robots

Tech and lifestyle experts getting hands-on with robots during their Eagle Labs tour (L-R Debbie-Ellen Carr, Jessica Nelson, Dr Charles Laing)

Teaching children coding 

The Eagle Lab at Cherry Hinton has a slightly different focus – rather than being strictly a collaborative working space, visitors can get more hands-on.

With an array of 3D printers, laser cutters and tools, staff can help businesses build product prototypes. They’ve even had local artists come in to create intricate sculptures.

Lab Engineer Paul Freakley explains: “We can get people turning up with an idea, or half an idea, and we can help them turn that into a physical product.”

The Lab also has an events space and there is a special focus on teaching the next generation of computer programmers coding by giving youngsters the chance to get hands-on with robots. Paul Freakley says: “We're making the equipment accessible to lots of school children, lots of scout groups, just so they can learn the technology. This tech is going to be in everyday use by the time they leave school, so it's giving a head start for everyone in the community.”