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Stalwart of the IT industry receives honorary doctorate

By Lindsay Fergus

A pioneer of the UK IT industry is to be honoured by Queen's University today on its second day of graduations.

John Lillywhite, one of the founding fathers of the IT industry in the UK, is to receive an honorary doctorate for services to business and commerce.

Mr Lilywhite, a fellow of the Institute of Management Accountants, has been extensively involved in Qubis, the university's vehicle for creating and managing spin-out companies.

Its chairman, Gordon Bell, paid tribute to him today, describing him as a "stalwart of the IT industry for the best part of half-a-century in a career that falls into two distinct halves".

"John progressed from an apprentice in International Computers Limited (ICL) in the 1950s to being the company's group finance director," he said.

"John's 'second career' was kickstarted through his links with Northern Ireland.

"In 1990 ICL had been involved in the start-up of a small software company - Kainos - with Queen's University.

"John very quickly became a key player in the emerging IT industry in Northern Ireland, working with, and becoming chairman of, a number of start-up and young technology companies, among them Lagan Technologies, Meridio, APT, and Lo-Q, taking them to significant financial success. Many of the companies in which John has been strategically involved are within the portfolio of Qubis.

"Given John's extensive and substantive experience - in terms of both length of service and breadth of service across so many roles and companies - it is fair to conclude that John has been one of the pioneers and founding fathers of the IT industry in the UK, and of the emergence of that industry as a strong and vibrant part of the industrial landscape in Northern Ireland."

Also receiving an honorary degree today is Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Anuwar Ali, president/ vice-chancellor of Open University Malaysia who graduated from Queen's with a BSc in economics in 1970.

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