Manchester tech entrepreneur saves Darwin’s birthplace & announces £100m University

Stephen Chapman's picture

Louis-James Davis, the founder of VST Enterprises in Manchester has acquired the lease of Charles Darwin’s childhood home.

He was approached to make rescue the Grade II listed building in Shrewsbury from dilapidation.

Davis has also stated that he will back a “world class university facility and centre of excellence for global research and education in the natural sciences” at the site.

“I am delighted to be involved with The Darwin and to support the great work and vision of the team who introduced it, including Mike Marchant, who has been a passionate advocate of this project to bring a world class university and centre of excellence to Shrewsbury,” he explained.

“Working with partners in science, technology, education and local communities, we intend to develop a wide range of content for a worldwide digital learning platform for people of all ages. 

“We are looking forward to working collaboratively with English Heritage, Shropshire Council and other bodies to restore this building of national and global importance.”

The planned establishment has already secured 2 endowment offers alone worth more than £500m.

“In doing this we create the next generation of innovative thinkers and disruptors - making those bright minds available to industry and business.  At the moment we are not supplying business with the right skills and knowledge to take their environmental responsibilities seriously,” continued Davies.

“Universities are not delivering enough within their current academic framework for natural sciences.  The political message and dependence on legislation to go green is not enough. We need to encourage and nurture great minds to become impassioned, to shape and educate the world with better knowledge combining science and technology. We need to establish an all-age digital platform for the natural sciences and use it to inspire future generations of young people and great minds like Darwin.” 

Mike Marchant Coordinator and Curator for The Darwin added:

“We are delighted and thrilled that Louis had the shared vision and empathy for The Darwin initiative and stepped in to support the project. Darwin was a disruptor to conventional thinking and the sciences, challenging the way in which generations before him saw the world around them. Louis is very much a parallel modern day disruptor in cyber technology, challenging the conventional way in which we think and use technology to better the world we live in. It was a natural joining of minds."

Work on Darwin House is expected to be completed by late 2022.

The investment from Davis came through his Davis Company Holdings operation.