Dr John White
Honorary Doctorate of Sciences
Jon White has made a major contribution to two areas that lie at the heart of LSBU's role as a 21st century university: innovation and enterprise. An academic turned successful businessman in his own right, throughout his career he has been generous in his support to other would-be entrepreneurs. Now, as a business angel, he is able to focus his considerable energies on helping others spread their wings.
John White was born in Sherborne in Dorset, and went to Fosters School. He studied at the University of Southampton, gaining a first-class degree in electronics and a PhD in microelectronics. Having published two books and gained what he modestly describes as 'a few patents', John started his working life as an electronics engineer at DERA Malvern. He then became a technical manager at Marconi, before being appointed managing director of Central Research Laboratories in west London. Under his watch, the company grew from a corporate R&D house into a major commercial operation with extensive overseas business. In 1986, he joined EMI as part of the company's research and development arm.
In 1996, EMI decided to streamline its operations and focus exclusively on music recording and publishing. For John and his colleagues, it was the opportunity they'd been waiting for and they put together the finance needed to buy the R&D operation, calling their new company Scipher. John and his team of inventors-for-hire set to work and had repaid their original loan in just six months.
Demand from global clients from sectors as wide-ranging as transport and telecommunications saw the company grow rapidly through the late 90s. At the same time, John was responsible for the spin-out of a number of new companies in fields as diverse as liquid crystal displays, spread spectrum wireless software and VOIP to bioinformatics. By the time it was floated on the London Stock Market in 2000, Scipher was valued at £450 million – not a bad return on an initial investment of £3 million, and a striking testament to John's energy, vision and drive.