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UK tech leaders receive New Year Honours

The government's digital champion will receive a CBE, while Imagination Technologies CEO gets a knighthood

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Technology leaders including video games veteran Ian Livingstone, government digital champion Martha Lane Fox and Imagination Technologies chief executive Hossein Yassaie have all been featured in the 2013 New Year Honours List.

Livingstone and Lane Fox are to receive CBEs, while Iranian-born Yassaie will be knighted for “services to technology and innovation”.

Gaming guru

In 1981, Livingstone co-founded the popular series of role-playing game (RPG) books Fighting Fantasy. He has continued to contribute to the series ever since, writing Blood of the Zombies in 2012 to mark its thirtieth anniversary.

Livingstone was also one of the co-founders of Games Workshop, which he started in early 1975 with flatmates John Peake and Steve Jackson, and sold in 1991 for £10 million. He went on to help found Eidos Interactive, publisher of the Tomb Raider and Deus Ex games.

Square Enix, a Japanese video-games maker, took over Eidos in 2009, making Livingstone “life president”.

Livingstone has been heavily involved in the campaign to improve the quality of computer teaching in the UK, and co-authored the “Next Gen” report, which helped convince Education Secretary Michael Gove to overhaul ICT classes to focus on programming.

“It's so much better to teach children to create technology rather than just being passive users of it,” Livingstone told the BBC.

Digital champion

Martha Lane Fox achieved notoriety as co-founder of online travel and gift business The company floated on the London Stock Exchange at the height of the dot-com boom in 2000. The shares were placed at 380p, valuing the company at £571 million.

Lane Fox stepped down as managing director of in 2003. The company was later bought by Sabre Holdings for £577 million.

Lane Fox now sits on the board of Marks & Spencer and Channel 4, as well as interior design and furniture website, which was set up by her partner Brent Hoberman.

In June 2009, she was appointed the UK government's Digital Inclusion Champion to head a two-year campaign to make the British public more computer literate. The coalition government later expanded the role, making her the UK digital champion.

Lane Fox went on to to spearhead the introduction of – a single domain collecting together various government websites – and has also led the Race Online 2012 campaign. The honours list says she is recognised for voluntary services to the UK Digital Economy and to charity.

Graphics king

Hossein Yassaie moved from Iran to the UK in 1976 and joined Hertfordshire-based Imagination Technologies in 1992, after studying at Birmingham University and working on microprocessor technology in Bristol. He became the company’s chief executive in 1998.

Although not a household name, Imagination Technologies makes mobile graphics and microprocessor chip technology. It is primarily known for its PowerVR GPU designs, which are used in are devices made by Apple, Samsung, Sony and LG.

Hossein told the BBC that while UK ICT companies are less well-known than those from the US, South Korea or Japan, British firms supply much of the underlying technology that makes those products work.

“I think the UK is the leading country in terms of providing intellectual property and technology for a lot of the new things that are happening around us,” he said.

Services to technology

Other recipients of New Year Honours include David Cleevely, founding director of the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge, and Richard Holdaway, director of RAL Space at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, both of whom will be knighted for services to technology.

Ofcom telecoms advisor David Cleevely and Digital UK chairman Barry Cox will also both receive CBEs.


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