Dr John Forrest CBE (OK 1961) died March 11, 2023
Dr JOHN FORREST CBE FREng graduated from Cambridge University with a BA and MA in Natural Sciences & Engineering He then did a D.Phil in nuclear fusion research at Oxford University and spent three years in post-doctoral research and teaching as an Assistant Professor at Stanford University in the USA. John joined the University of London (UCL) in 1970, becoming a Professor of Electronic Engineering and building up an international research group in microwave and optical technologies for radar and wireless communications. During this time he acted as a consultant to many leading companies, such as General Electric, Raytheon, Sperry and Marconi, UK MOD, USAF and USNavy. John was a member of the UK Defence Science Advisory Council.
In 1984 John joined Marconi Defence Systems as Technical Director, with responsibility for the funding of much of GEC’s advanced technology research, but in the late 1980’s left to become Director of Engineering for the Independent Broadcasting Authority, running the UK independent sector’s television, radio and satellite broadcasting network.
In 1990, John led the transformation of this organisation into the major broadcast and cable communications company NTL, of which he was Chief Executive and later Deputy Chairman. NTL was sold to CableTel Inc in 1996, who retained the name NTL until the recent change to Virgin Media.
In 1996 John joined the board of the international venture capital company 3i plc and served until 2004 on the board and associated committees, assisting 3i, particularly in its global expansion in the USA and the Far East. He has held several appointments as Chairman or Director of companies in the technology and services sectors and has experience of taking several companies through IPO on the AIM and NASDAQ markets and in driving the trade sale of others in the USA and in Europe.
John has worked extensively with the government on public committees and was for five years the founder Chairman of the UK Government Spectrum Management Advisory Board, advising Ministers on the use of the wireless spectrum. He has been active in the Royal Academy of Engineering, with a period as Deputy President and was the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Academy’s publication “Ingenia” from 1998 to 2004.
In the last 10 years, John has assisted several high-technology start-ups as chairman or director and has had led or been closely involved in initial public offerings (IPOs) on the London AIM and US NASDAQ markets. He was Chairman of Blue Wave Systems Inc, based in Dallas and listed on NASDAQ, for which he subsequently led its sale to Motorola Inc. He has also been instrumental in a number of M&A activities and trade sales, particularly in the telecommunications sector. In late 2006, he joined the Board of LGC Wireless Inc in California, to lead the IPO of the company on the AIM market. The trade sale was pursued in mid-2007, resulting in the acquisition of LGC by ADC Telecom in November 2007.
John works now with many venture capital companies in the UK, France and the USA, assisting with the growth, M&A, and listing of high-growth enterprises in the technology sector.
John is :
· a founder member of the recently-formed European Microelectronics Academy, supported by NESTA, destined to drive new microelectronics development and manufacture in the UK/European environment.
· the independent director on the board of the major wireless planning and optimisation software company, Mentum SA, based in Paris, and is currently involved in the sale of the company following its rapid growth. He restructured their R&D operations into a separate tax-efficient entity (Mendev Inc.) in Canada and acts as the Board Chairman.
· Also the Chairman of Zinwave Ltd, based in Cambridge, UK, an early-stage VC supported company providing a unique wideband in-building wireless system. He is currently assisting the investors in a trade sale of the company.
· Most recently, in 2011, he joined Narec Capital Ltd as Chairman to lead this new company providing financial and advisory services to industry, investors and insurers in the area of alternative and renewable energy.
John has published many papers on microwave engineering and interdisciplinary aspects of technology and holds Honorary Doctorates in Science and in Engineering from several UK universities. He was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in H.M. the Queen’s Jubilee Honours and holds the honour of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Government for his services to European Communications Technology, particularly for his founder role in the DVB initiative which led to the development and promotion of the technical standards for digital television broadcasting, and for his role in advising the European Commission on its major technology initiatives.