Left-right: David Harding, Science Museum director Ian Blatchford and Harding's wife Claudia.
Founder of Winton Capital Managements David Harding has donated £5m to the Science Museum, writes Emily Wight.
A belief in the power and beauty of numbers has prompted City philanthropist David Harding and his wife Claudia to give £5m to the Science Museum - its largest ever single donation – to fund a new maths institute to inspire future generations.
Harding, 53, founder of Winton Capital Managements, built the global investment management business on the belief that statistics, data and computers employed in the right way allow for a more objective approach to managing money.
The Cambridge physics graduate, who earned £87m from Winton Capital Managements in 2011, says his success is based on simply solving the maths problem and searching for patterns. He now wants to inspire a new generation to love maths through his gift to the Science Museum where he spent many happy hours ‘pressing buttons’ in his youth.
“We all, certainly me and my ilk, went to the Science Museum as kids and it was a formative experience”.
The museum’s new maths gallery, which will be named after Harding, has been designed by world-renowned Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, herself a maths graduate. It is predicted to cost £7.5m in total and will open in 2016. It will explore the complex ideas of mathematicians since the turn of the 17th century.
Harding says: “Maths has never had a great image in our society. If we can do anything to make people more excited then it’s got to be a step in the right direction. I think they can create something really nice and hopefully influence the next generation of school kids to be less maths averse. If you have more training in maths it can only help your life.”
Harding is an extensive giver, setting up The Winton Charitable Foundation and David Harding Charitable Foundation in 2005 and 2007, respectively, to support scientific research in the community, through award schemes such; as Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books; and projects such as WinAtSchool.
In 2011 Harding pledged £20m to establish the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. The research programme applies physics to meet the growing demands on the earth’s natural resources.
Science museum director Ian Blatchford said that Harding had set a good example to other philanthropists. “David and Claudia stand out among philanthropists as dedicated champions of science. We are determined to match their enormous generosity with the ambition we show in harnessing our world-class collections to tell the stories of how mathematicians have helped to shape the world. This is a game-changing gift to the museum, and it is my hope that this will inspire further transformational philanthropy”, he said.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid, said: “Mathematics is an absolutely vital part of a rounded education. So it is great news that the Science Museum is to have a new gallery, helping to bring it alive and make it meaningful for everyone.”
He added: “But this would not be possible without the outstanding generosity of David and Claudia Harding. Their philanthropic gesture creates a legacy which will benefit millions for generations to come.”