An Arc of Opportunity? First Base & City Leaders Discuss Challenges & Opportunities Faced by Oxford, Cambridge and the Knowledge Corridor

First Base Director Barry Jessup joined Oxford City Council Leader, Susan Brown and Cambridge City Council Leader, Lewis Herbert, in a webinar hosted by Quatro on Thursday 23rd July discussing the future for towns and cities across the CaMKOx Arc.


Both council leaders disclosed a range of priorities affecting the future of these two great global knowledge hubs, from the fallout of COVID-19, to achieving net zero.  Devolution, inequality and the recovery and renewal of our high streets and city centres were also discussed.

Cambridge is the most unequal city in the UK, with Oxford a close second. The panel discussed this unenviable position and explored how councils can work with key partners, such as the private sector and developers, to actively reduce inequality through the delivery of genuine social, economic and environmental value.

Barry Jessup highlighted the knowledge economy as a key driver across the Arc, pointing towards the need for greater collaboration between academia and business. He emphasised the huge potential of MK:U, the new university in Milton Keynes; aspiring to trailblaze a dynamic curriculum for the digital economy, specifically addressing the employment needs of the 21st century.

Greener high streets and city centres were also envisioned for the future, with more space for people to live, work and socialise. Less fossil fuel vehicles and more low carbon transport, from bicycles and e-scooters to autonomous vehicles, were prioritised as future fixtures of a wider sustainable transport policy. First Base confirmed a commitment towards car free solutions to travel.

For the short-term, Oxford and Cambridge, like most cities, are focussed on the uphill task of mitigating the deep impacts of Coronavirus while planning for recovery.  It was recognised that this can only be achieved through partnership, between public and private sector and across traditional local government boundaries.  Collaboration will be key for the future success of this world-beating innovation corridor.

First Base is active across Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge and are working with local politicians, businesses and stakeholders to shape the debate on the future of this dynamic Arc of opportunity.

Thanks to Quatro for organising this webinar and thanks to Councillors Susan Brown and Lewis Herbert for such a stimulating discussion.