Peter Dawe OBE

Peter Dawe

Areas of Interest

Business, Alumni

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of the University, 2000


Peter Dawe is an entrepreneur, technological innovator and Chief Executive of InterVivo Communications Ltd. After gaining a Diploma in Management Studies at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology, he went on to become one of the pioneers of the Internet in the UK. In 1986 he founded Unipalm, and in 1988 created Pipex, the UK's first commercial Internet provider. In 1989 he co-founded the Internet Service Providers' Association, which promotes self-regulation within the industry, and in 1995 founded the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), an organisation that aims to combat child pornography on the web. His work with the IWF was recognised in 2001 when he was awarded an OBE. Peter is involved in an enormous range of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He has once again sailed into uncharted waters with his latest venture InterVivo which is the first company to offer Voice Over Internet Protocol services via a standard landline.

In 2000 Peter Dawe was given the award Honorary Doctor of the University.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Doctorate of the University to Peter Dawe, Founder-Chairman of both Unipalm plc and Unipalm Pipex, the UK's first Internet Service provider company. 

Today, we honour Peter Dawe as an exceptional alumnus of this University. After graduating from Queen Mary College (London) in Mathematics, Statistics and Computing, then acquiring some accountancy diplomas, he obtained a Diploma in Management Studies jointly from Cambridge College of Arts and Technology (CCAT) which is a predecessor of this University and Hatfield Polytechnic, now the University of Hertfordshire. 

Over the last twenty five years this entrepreneur extraordinaire has created a diverse business empire. This has been through Unipalm, Dawe Media Limited (a most innovative regional media group involving four radio stations together with four local cable television stations) and a host of other companies involved in a cross-channel undersea telecommunications cable, e-commerce, a new town, green parks and entrepreneurial apprenticeships as well as starting or being involved with a raft of not-for-profit organizations. These include the Internet Watch Foundation, Cambridgeshire Drug Action Trust and several of the Prince's Trust groups. Peter Dawe is also a member of the East of England Development Agency.

He began his career with a family newsagents business and then became a trainee accountant with Cambridge City Council, thence Cambridge County Council, later promoted to management services officer, serving in a series of formative positions with Cambridge Micro-computers Limited before founding his own business, Unipalm, in 1987. This soon became Unipalm Group and included PIPEX which, he sold in 1995, when it had a valuation of £150m and was, himself, appointed Head of the European Operation. 

His other enterprises include: Flute Limited, the company involved in installing the £26m undersea cable between Suffolk, Belgium and the Netherlands, whilst the Oakington Corporation is aiming to deploy e-cash and related ideas into the internet-based economy, Cambridge New Town Corporation was set up specifically to promote the building of a new town near Cambridge and Cambridge Great Park Limited is planning to develop a large area of parkland and a number of large country houses north of Cambridge and, finally, Dawe Estates Limited is a 1600 acre arable farm near Watton in West Norfolk. 

He began his Entrepreneurial Apprenticeship scheme by recruiting an apprentice to realize the Oakington Corporation £1m e-cash vision, whilst the latest apprentice is currently running the Cambridge Great Park project. 

Peter Dawe also has a keen interest in public policy and continues to work with policy makers, politicians and interest groups:

He has persuaded government departments that the best way to encourage internet use in business is for government to use it

He was instrumental in changing EU VAT legislation so that US providers of telecom services are taxed in the same way as European-based providers

He has set up Internet Watch to help reduce use of the net for illegal purposes, particularly child pornography

He is persuading Cambridge-based institutions of the importance of looking strategically at the future of Cambridge, and

He is persuading local and national institutions that new towns are a viable development alternative, when planners and politicians had dismissed them.

Mr Peter Dawe is a man of great vision and his business activities have been pivotal in the development of internet activity in the region and the nation and a spur to exploit the new technology, his development of a number of not-for-profit organizations and his involvement with public policy demonstrate his concern for society and the environment and are symptomatic of his concern for others.

It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Vice-Chancellor, to confer on Peter Dawe, an Honorary Doctorate of this University."