Guest post: Cornwall – the place to be

All eyes are on Cornwall as it prepares to welcome the world’s leaders for this month’s G7 summit. An opportunity to showcase this unique part of the UK, James Murray, who heads up Falmouth University’s venture studio Launchpad, discusses how Cornwall provides the perfect ecosystem for innovation and why you should care…


Cornwall is easily dismissed as a place where you come for surf, sea, and that jam-first cream tea. Although they are some highlights there’s much more to the place than meets the eye. Yes, there’s the Eden Project, spectacular sights of derelict mines and miles of sandy beaches. These are quaint and beautiful traits of Cornwall, but for some time we’ve been witnessing a gradual transformation of the region that’s been accelerated by the global pandemic.

Covid-19 has taught the world that where, and what, you do is not necessarily a set of spliced components. Yes, you could work remotely, but also, it’s important to acknowledge that Zoom will never replace the serendipity of a chance meeting. And as social animals the comradery inspired by a hallowed place of communion at the altar of productivity is something that will always be something of a necessity. Just perhaps not nine to five, Monday to Friday.

Cornwall happens to hold some of Britain’s best kept start-up secrets. Thanks to decades of infrastructure investment, it’s one of the best internet-connected regions in the UK. There are dozens of technical and entrepreneurial networks and events from Agile on the Beach to a huge creative community with artists of all skills, and an Immersive Business project run by Exeter and Falmouth universities, designed to bring AR and VR to life for real-world use. Software Cornwall – which we’re very pleased to support – is key to helping lubricate and connect the software engineers of the region. And it even has its own Spaceport in Newquay!

I am personally very lucky to head the only university-embedded venture studio in the world with an accredited UK master’s level programme. I was amazed when I discovered the breadth of the opportunity at hand; a fee-free MSc degree, a tax-free stipend, and incredible support team and a state-of-the-art building on the Penryn Campus.

What makes this programme different to other flagship programmes is that Launchpad partners with incredible businesses like AWS, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, JISC, Twitch, Sony Interactive, HSBC and other venture studios to grapple with market opportunities and have a positive impact at a systems level.

Launchpad attracts talent from all over the world – this summer we have a set of strong diverse candidates joining us from the USA, India, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Canada, with MBAs and PhDs in tow. We have strategic partners working with us on ventures in ocean aquaculture and food sustainability through alternative proteins. It’s an exciting place to be right now. Launchpad has just been accepted to the Global Accelerator Network and the Global Start-up Network, drawing more visibility to the going’s on in this corner of the world.

With G7 coming to Cornwall, all eyes are on us. Many of my friends have asked me when I started at Falmouth, ‘why Cornwall?’ My question back was ‘why are you not already here?’ I’m glad to see that both my eldest brother and the G7 agree with me – Cornwall is the place to be, and now is the time to come and start something new and exciting: building back better and what a place to start tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges ahead.

Dedicated to driving the growth of Cornwall’s economy, Launchpad is a venture studio embedded within Falmouth University. It gives entrepreneurial candidates an opportunity to work on building the companies of tomorrow with leading strategic partners supported by experienced coaches and mentors to help create in-demand, cutting-edge investible companies for positive global impact. Launchpad is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Research England and Cornwall Council.