The David and Elain Potter Foundation The David and Elain Potter Foundation
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Dr David Potter CBE was born in East London, South Africa and raised in Cape Town. In 1963 he came to Trinity College, Cambridge to read Natural Sciences. He later studied for a doctorate in mathematical physics at Imperial College, University of London where he was subsequently appointed to the staff. As an academic during the 1970s he taught at London University and at the University of California. Dr Potter also holds honorary degrees from Edinburgh, Sheffield and York Universities, among others.

In 1980 Dr Potter founded Psion, developing and leading the company for more than 20 years. In its early years, Psion became a leader in software for home microcomputers. In 1984 using radical technology, a Psion team invented ‘The Organiser’, the world’s first volume hand-held computers for personal use and information. In 1998, David led the creation of Symbian Limited in partnership with Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and Matsushita.

David Potter has served as a board member of a number of private and public companies. He served on the 1997 National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (the Dearing Committee) and continued his involvement in higher education policy as a board member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England. From 1999 to 2003 he was a member of the Council for Science and Technology reporting to the Cabinet. David has also had extensive involvement with educational establishments as a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford; Honorary Fellow of Imperial College; Honorary Fellow and Governor of The London Business School. He has served on the South African President’s Committee on Communication and Information Technology. David is a trustee of the following organisations: chinadialogue; Trust for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism; and Philharmonia Orchestra.

David was awarded the CBE, in 1997, for services to manufacturing industry and in 2001 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineers. In June 2003, David was appointed a non-Executive Director to the Bank of England; in June 2006 he was appointed Chair of the Remuneration Committee and Deputy Chair of the Committee of Directors.

Dr Potter’s interests include his family, farming, education, science and economics, reading and ideas, tennis, golf and music.



Dr Elaine Potter was born in South Africa and lives in England. She did her D.Phil at Nuffield College, Oxford on the Political Role of the Press in South Africa, which was published as her first book. Thereafter she wrote for the Sunday Times and co-authored several Sunday Times books, including Suffer the Children: the Story of Thalidomide and Destination Disaster: From the Tri-Motor to the DC10. She has edited the holocaust memoir, A Jump for Life, and collaborated on The Murdoch Archipelago. Elaine is a trustee of the following organisations: Trust for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism; the Centre for Investigative Journalism (Chair); openDemocracy, Limited; and the University of Cape Town Trust. She is co-founder of the David and Elaine Potter Foundation.



Michael Polonsky was educated at the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Oxford.  He has been a university teacher, and is now a lawyer in private practice in a City of London law firm.  He is a partner, specialising in international commercial litigation and arbitration, at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP.  He strongly supports the role that law and the courts can play in advancing the values of the civil society, particularly in South Africa.



Michael Langley studied Modern History at Exeter College, Oxford.  After a brief spell in the City, he joined Arthur Andersen and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1974. Michael held a number of financial management positions with international companies, travelling to and working in North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In 1985, he joined the board of Psion PLC as Financial Director, working for and with David Potter. After an extended period of rapid growth and commercial success, Mike left Psion in 1997 and has subsequently held a number of non-executive and part-time roles and has acted as trustee for the David and Elaine Potter Charitable Foundation and one other charity.  



Sam Potterwas educated at Westminster School and then Magdalen College, Oxford, gaining a BA (Hons) in Physics. He worked for five years at HSBC Private Bank in both Geneva and London. Much of his tenure was spent attached to the funds of hedge funds department, where he helped to develop industry standards for data collection and reporting. Having left the banking world in May 2007, he is currently working as an executive producer on various documentary films.


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