Cambridge Phenomenon

ADE was formed in 1978 as part of what became known as the "Cambridge Phenomenon" – the transformation of Cambridge from a UK University town into one of the world's high technology centres within a few years in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The diagram below is reproduced with the kind permission of SQW Limited who carried out the original 1985 Cambridge Phenomenon study. Details of SQW’s subsequent work on the Cambridge Phenomenon (including a study completed in 2011) are available on its web site: Click on the diagram for a larger image (3.6Mbyte pdf file) which will open in a new window.

Cambridge Phenonmenon

This diagram depicts the growth of Cambridge technology companies through to 1984 with Cambridge University at the centre. Various technology sectors are connected with radial lines. Computer aided engineering (CAE) companies are contained in the 10 o'clock region branching out from the Computer Aided Design Centre (CADCentre which is now Aveva and Applied Research of Cambridge.

Computer aided design was a specialty of the Cambridge University Computer Laboratory from the mid-1960s. CADCentre was created in Cambridge in 1969 by the UK Ministry of Technology both to develop computer aided engineering techniques and to promote their use in British industry. CADCentre carried out much pioneering research, and many of its early staff went on to become prominent in the worldwide CAE community, for example, brothers Dick Newell and Martin Newell. Dick Newell was involved in developing the CADCentre's Plant Design Management System (PDMS) and later co-founded Cambridge Interactive Systems which developed the Medusa 2D/3D CAD system. Martin Newell founded Ashlar Inc. which developed Vellum and various other CAD systems.

The three original members of ADE also worked at CADCentre and ADE was formed in 1978. However, unlike almost all of the other CAE companies of that era, ADE is still an independent business continuing to provide CAE consultancy and software services.

Further details of the Cambridge Phenomenon can be found at and in the book "The Cambridge Phenomenon - 50 years of innovation and enterprise" by Kate Kirk and Charles Cotton with a forward by Bill Gates.

This segment of the diagram contains the CADCentre, ADE and other early entrants to the CAE software and consultancy business.