University of York award Rob Wilmot Honorary Degree

Posted on 22 January 2018

Rob Wilmot is among eight leading figures to receive an honorary degree during winter graduation.

Among eight other leading figures from the world of business, performing arts, politics and journalism, Rob Wilmot, has received an honorary degree from the University of York during the winter graduation ceremonies.

The University of York confers the honorary degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa, on individuals who have made outstanding contributions to society.

The recipients of 2018 honorary degrees, which have been awarded as part of the University's winter graduation ceremonies, are:

  • Former President of the Federal Republic of Germany Professor Dr Horst Koehler.
  • Pianist, poet and author Alfred Brendel.
  • Vasily Petrenko chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • Sacha Romanovitch the first woman to lead a major City accountancy firm.
  • One of the three founding executives of Freeserve, the UK’s largest Internet Service Provider, Rob Wilmot.
  • The engineer, educator and government advisor Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya.
  • Dame Vivian Hunt Managing Partner for McKinsey & Company’s United Kingdom and Ireland offices who has been identified as one of the 30 most influential people in the City of London by the Financial Times.
  • Award-winning journalist, currently based in Cairo for BBC News Orla Guerin.



Rob Wilmot was one of the three founding executives of Freeserve.

Launched by the retailer Dixon in 1998, Freeserve became the UK’s largest internet service provider in just three months, with Rob becoming one of the youngest-ever executive officers of a FTSE 100 company when Freeserve floated after only nine months.‌

He left Freeserve shortly after it was sold to France Telecom for £1.6 billion in 2001. He has since founded and invested in a number of businesses, most recently including Crowdicity, a cloud-based open innovation platform for ideas generation and knowledge transfer, and ArtLibrary, a revolutionary tool for artists to record, manage and share their works. He is also an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University, where he is helping with the commercialisation of research, including AI and machine learning.

Rob was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2013 for his work in education.