Ada Lovelace inspired college invokes spirit of Victorian code pioneer

Financial Times, 26 November 2015

Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, named after Ada Lovelace, the 19th century British mathematician and computing pioneer, has just begun recruiting students, after securing industry donations and backing from ministers.

At 5pm on Christmas Eve two years ago, Mark Smith, a former teacher struggling to get his social enterprise off the ground, received an extraordinary gift: a £100,000 cheque from the online gaming company Gamesys, with no strings attached.

Two of Gamesys’ founders, Noel Hayden and Robin Tombs, were so en­thused by Mr Smith’s plan for a new specialist UK college teaching digital skills that each put in £12,000 of their own money alongside a company donation. “It was a good Christmas,” says Mr Smith, still appearing a little amazed at his success and amused by his benefactors’ “sense of timing”.