A new era for CDP: Cambridge Design Partnership becomes an employee-owned company for next phase of growth

21 May 2018 – Technology and product design firm Cambridge Design Partnership (CDP) has become a fully employee-owned company as it embarks on the next stage of its evolution and growth. An employee ownership trust has been set up to hold the company’s shares on behalf of its staff.

“We believe this is a great opportunity for CDP to accelerate our mission to become a world-leading innovator, with the company’s most important asset – its staff – at the centre of our strategy,” said CDP founding partners Mike Cane, Mike Beadman and Matt Schumann. “It means we can continue to grow without the involvement of external shareholders, so we can maintain full control over the direction of the business and our creative culture.”

The CDP leadership team of 10 partners will continue to manage the company and the staff will have a say in the company’s future through an elected employee council. As an employee-owned company, CDP joins the ranks of organisations such as John Lewis, which is probably the most well-known – and the UK’s largest – employee-owned business.

“We have been very successful as an owner-managed company but we believe that – to achieve our ambitious goals – we need a structure that is not only scalable but ensures our talented staff have a direct stake in the success of the business,” said Mike Cane. “Following a major strategy review last year, we realised that our team wanted to be more directly involved in the CDP story – so we decided to break away from the standard company structure.”

Earlier this year, CDP was named one of the top companies in the world-leading Cambridge technology cluster – winning the high growth award in the Cambridge News Business Excellence Awards 2018. Since it was founded by three engineers 22 years ago, the company has grown to around 120 scientists, engineers, researchers and designers in Toft near Cambridge, UK, and Palo Alto in California, US.

“Employee ownership through an employee ownership trust provides us with a stable and equitable structure that has the flexibility to scale and adapt to whatever the future brings,” said Mike Beadman. “It neatly gets around many of the unintended consequences that come with other employee ownership models. It is fundamentally more democratic and inclusive – values that resonate with the CDP creative culture.”

Over the last three years, CDP has expanded its capabilities significantly to make it a ‘one-stop shop’ for businesses in the healthcare and consumer sectors that need to innovate and launch their next-generation products quickly. While its strength has traditionally been in technology and engineering design, it now also has strong teams working at the front end of innovation – helping clients optimise their innovation plans – and at the back end, where its manufacturing engineering group sets up new processes and multinational supply chains.

“Partnership has always been in our name – and now it means even more,” said Matt Schumann. “Every member of staff, in every interaction with our customers, will be fully invested in the success of their project. Working together, with our goals aligned, we believe is the best environment for innovation to occur.”

Notes for editors

Cambridge Design Partnership is a technology and product design partner focused on helping clients grow their businesses. Some of the world’s largest companies trust CDP to develop their most important innovations. Located in both Cambridge (UK) and in Palo Alto, California (US), CDP specialises in the consumer products, healthcare, energy and industrial equipment markets. Its multidisciplinary staff have the expert knowledge to identify opportunities and tackle the challenges its clients face. For more information, visit: www.cambridge-design.co.uk

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