Mel Morris

Mel Morris receiving his honorary degree, HonDUniv, 2016
Credit: Ede & Ravenscroft


Mel Morris, was born in Derbyshire and attended the John Port secondary school in Etwall, between 1967 and 1973. He left school at the age of 16 with 5 ‘O’ Levels and 1 ‘CSE’, and took a job as a data control clerk at the firm of Roberts and Birch Ltd in Burton on Trent.

From an early age Mel demonstrated an appetite for the computer sciences and software, development moving quickly into programmer and senior analyst roles at the National Bus Company. When he was just 18 years old Mel founded his first company called Link Management Services in 1977.

In 1985 Mel moved to the United States of America and spent four years as a Management Information Systems Manager for Wang Laboratories. He continued his entrepreneurial endeavours, founding and running consecutively Minitech Ltd pioneers of intelligent disk array technology and Prometrics Ltd specialising in performance enhancement software solutions between 1985 and 1996.

Mel has over 40 years' experience in the software industry here in the UK and the US. He is a global achiever, but has his roots established at home here in Derby. His local business successes include founding Derby-based company Prevx, developers of cloud-based internet security solutions, which he served as its CEO until its acquisition by Webroot Software, another of Mel’s investments and for which he was also their Chief Technology Officer.

He has been a member of The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists since 1994.

Mel was the entrepreneur behind dating site Udate, the world’s second largest matchmaking business which he set up in 1999 and then sold to the American InterActive Corporation in 2003, becoming their Vice President. He also founded and headed up the City’s Mickelover Court Hotel, with which he was associated for 12 years from 1990.

His other local business investments/interests include BriefYourMarket and Serious Sports Technology Ltd. Many of us will perhaps know Mel as the financier and Non-Executive Chairman of King Digital Entertainment Plc, the firm behind the global online game phenomenon Candy Crush.

In 2006 Mel formed part of a consortium that took over Derby County Football Club, and he served on its board of directors for a year. It was later and more recently in 2014 that Mel completed the acquisition of Derby County Football Club from North American Partners LLP and Derby-born Mel realised a life-long dream by becoming owner of the Rams - a club which currently plays in the upper tier of the Football League.

During his career Mel has played a leading role in six highly successful businesses collectively worth more than £4 billion, but he is also someone who recognises areas where money can be spent not only as an investment, but to help others, to put money back into the community, and to stimulate further business growth.

Mel’s philanthropic efforts include being a Platinum Patron of the Prince’s Trust supporting local projects in the area of robotics and nationally as the key sponsor of the Trust’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative. He is also funding a five-year support programme for the Prince's Trust to help young people find and secure work opportunities. The Repton School’s Science Priory development, benefitted from his key donor contribution of £0.5m and helped provide a state of the art sciences facility.

His MSTART charity provides assistance to Medical, Research, Sports and Technology projects throughout the UK.

Mel purchased and donated to the Derby Royal Hospital a £1.2m robot surgeon. The da Vinci device has cameras and robotic arms, controlled by surgeons, which allows them to conduct intricate operations and dialysis research. Fewer than 20 hospitals in the country have one of these Robotic Surgeons. He has also supported the Colin Bloomfield Melanoma Appeal, an appeal close to many city of Derby residents’ hearts.

In more recent years Mel has made a significant and valuable contribution to the University’s real world learning approach. Not only is he an inspirational figure but his support of the College of Business is much appreciated. Mel unassumingly supports the College by meeting with the first year undergraduate students in their induction week; supporting the Dragon’s Den Challenge for second and third year students and more recently in a very busy schedule gave up his time to do an ‘an audience with Mel Morris’ sharing his experiences and allowing students to ask questions. A great experience for them and demonstrating a clear commitment and passion by him to dedicating his time to the City’s next generation of entrepreneurs. Moreover, his continued drive for innovation has forged a strong link with our Institute for Innovation and Sustainable Engineering. He has initiated, funded and mentored on key projects linked to kidney dialysis, sport technology and Sports ground conditioning.

Chancellor, in recognition of Mel’s significant contribution to business, sport, charities and young entrepreneurship in Derby and beyond, we are delighted to present Mel Morris for the conferment of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University.

[July 2016]