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Scientists

To inspire scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians and medical professionals – both visiting the Park and working here – we have chosen to name each of our buildings after inspirational scientists from history.

These are people who have broken boundaries and challenged thinking to make remarkable discoveries and advancements.

Find out more about each of them below.

Grow-on Buildings

In 2018, Exeter Science Park ran a competition for local schools to name the Grow-on Buildings. After receiving a booklet with information on seven shortlisted scientists, students were asked to write a short essay on their three favourites – one for each of the buildings.

Our CEO, Dr Sally Basker, judged the entries and the essays by nine-year-old Amalie from Cranbrook Education Campus were chosen – she had selected Hedy LamarrSir Isaac Newton and Alan Turing.

Hedy Lamarr: 9 November 1914 – 19 January 2000

“All creative people want to do the unexpected” – Lamarr

Best known for her work as an actress, Austrian-born American Lamarr was also a talented inventor. She and her business partner, composer and pianist George Antheil, developed a radio guidance system for allied torpedoes, by synchronizing a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals.

They discovered that using frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology reduced the threat of Axis Powers jamming the torpedoes and setting them off course.

Despite the invention receiving a patent in 1942, it was technologically difficult to implement and the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s. Various spread spectrum techniques are incorporated into Bluetooth and WiFi technology that we use today.

Their work led to Lamarr and Antheil posthumously being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Sir Isaac Newton: 4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727

“He was intellectually daring… His achievements were so momentous that the term ‘scientific genius’ was invented to describe him.”   Professor Robert Iliffe, Director, The Newton Project

Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author, widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time, and a key figure in the scientific revolution.

Newton formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation that were taken as the dominant scientific viewpoint until the theory of relativity was introduced. His mathematical description of gravity has helped to explain the motion of objects on earth and account for tides, trajectories of comets, equinoxes and other phenomena.

He built the first practical reflecting telescope and did extensive work into the theory of optics, including a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism separates white lights into the colours of the visible spectrum.

In 1687, his book entitled ‘Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy’ was published, which laid the foundations of classical mechanics.

His work was extensive and he has received numerous accolades and awards for his vast range of notable achievements and discoveries.

Alan Turing: 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954

“We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.” – Turing

Widely considered to be the ‘father of theoretical computer science’, English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst and philosopher Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science.

He is probably best known for his work at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre, in the Second World War. He devised a number of techniques for improving the breaking of German ciphers and played a crucial part in deciphering intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements. It has been estimated that the work by Turing and his team shortened the war in Europe by more than two years and saved over 14 million lives.

After the war, Turing’s work included the design of the Automatic Computing Engine (one of the first designs for a stored-program computer) and work at the Victoria University of Manchester where he helped develop Manchester Computers (an innovative series of stored-program electronic computers).

Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts. In 2009, a public campaign resulted in an official public apology on behalf of the government for the way he was treated and a posthumous pardon by Queen Elizabeth II. In 2019 it was announced that Turing would feature on the new £50 note.

Ada Lovelace Building

The official name of Exeter Science Park’s new ‘Open Innovation Building’ was chosen by students attending the 2019 Big Bang Fair South West. Students overwhelmingly selected the 19th Century English mathematician Ada Lovelace, whose name will now be given to the new 20,000 square foot building.

Ada Lovelace: 10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852

English mathematician Lovelace was best known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine and is therefore thought of as one of the world’s first computer programmers.

Between 1842-43, Lovelace translated an article by Italian military engineer Luigi Menabrea on the calculating engine. She supplemented her translations with an elaborate set of notes, so detailed that they contain what many consider to be the first computer programme.

Her vision was that computers had capabilities beyond just calculations. Lovelace described her approach to her work as ‘poetical science’ and this led her to ask questions and challenge the thinking of many at that time, including Babbage.

Daughter of poet Lord Byron, Ada married William King in 1835 who was later made the Earl of Lovelace, Ada therefore becoming the Countess of Lovelace.

They spent their honeymoon at Worthy Manor in Ashley Combe near Porlock Weir, Somerset, on the edge of Exmoor, and it later became their summer retreat.

George Parker Bidder Building

The newest net-zero carbon building on the park is named after English Engineer and calculating prodigy George Parker Bidder.

George Parker Bidder: 13 June 1806 – 20 September 1878

George Parker Bidder was an English engineer and calculating prodigy.

As a child, Bidder had an extraordinary ability to handle numbers without writing them down, and his father, a stonemason, exhibited him widely as a ‘calculating boy’. In 1824, he began work in the Ordnance Survey but left the following year to become an assistant to Henry Robinson Palmer, engineer of the London Dock Company. This was the start of a varied and successful career as a civil engineer.

In 1837 he was engaged with R. Stephenson in building the Blackwall railway, and it was he who designed the peculiar method of disconnecting a carriage at each station while the rest of the train went on without stopping, which was employed in the early days of that line when it was worked by means of a cable. Another series of railways with which he had much to do were those in the eastern counties which afterwards became the Great Eastern system. He also advised on the construction of the Belgian railways. He has been praised as the best witness that ever entered a committee-room. He was quick to discover and take advantage of the weak points in an opponent’s case, and his powers of mental calculation frequently stood him in good stead.

Though he sometimes spoke of himself as a mere “railway-engineer,” he was in reality very much more; there was indeed no branch of engineering in which he did not take an interest, as was shown by the assiduity with which for half a century he attended the weekly meetings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, of which he was elected president in 1860.

He was also one of the founders of the Electric Telegraph Co, which enabled the public generally to enjoy the benefits of telegraphic communication. In hydraulic engineering, he was the designer of the Victoria Docks (London).

The building of the Science Park Centre has been made possible with shareholder equity from Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council, the University of Exeter; the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) which committed £4.5m loan from the Growing Places Fund; and a £1 million grant from the Regional Growth Fund.

Exeter Science Park’s Grow-on Buildings are partly funded by £4.5m from the HotSW LEP Growth Deal Funding. The HotSW LEP has also provided £2.5m local Government funding towards the Environmental Futures Campus and £5.5m towards the Open Innovation Building, which will bring forward 20,000 sq ft of space for growing small and medium sized enterprises.

The Ada Lovelace Building is partly funded by £5.5 million from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal Funding. East Devon District Council’s Cabinet has invested £1.1m in the development of the building, in the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone.