Computer tycoon chips in with pounds 7.5m for Silicon Fen

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The Independent Online
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY took another step towards its aim of establishing a "science campus" to rival the rest of the world after receiving a $12.5m (pounds 7.5m) donation from the American co-founder of the world's most successful semiconductor company.

Gordon Moore, who first predicted in the 1970s that microchips would become smaller and faster, made the donation with his wife, Betty, to set up Europe's most advanced science and technology library. For the university, the library will be the centrepiece of a specialised pounds 45m science campus on the western edge of the city that is intended to be as good as anything around the world.

Last year the university received a pounds 12m donation from Bill Gates's personal fortune; earlier, Microsoft gave pounds 50m to set up a computer research laboratory centred on the Cambridge don Roger Needham. It is intended to make the university pre-eminent in long-term software research in Europe. The Cambridge area is also becoming increasingly popular with biotechnology companies after the establishment in nearby Hinxton of the Human Genome Project, which aims to decode all human DNA in the next five years.

The university's aim is to establish a world-beating "Silicon Fen" to rival the concentration of computing and biotechnology companies in Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco, where many grew out of work done at Stanford University. Cambridge aims to emulate, or exceed, that combination of academic and financial achievement through geographical location.

The library will combine the newest electronic retrieval services with traditional paper references. Its star attraction will be an archive of work dating back more than 25 years by Stephen Hawking, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. He is best known for his book A Brief History of Time, and the archive will include an early draft. The works will join others kept at the university, including papers by Isaac Newton, a previous holder of Professor Hawking's post, and Charles Darwin. The new library will be at the west of the campus, next to the science and mathematics centres.

Yesterday Dr Moore said: "Cambridge has a long history of doing leading research into some of the most fundamental questions that Mankind can ask. I find this exciting and uplifting and am pleased to contribute where I can."

In 1971 Dr Moore co- founded Intel, now the largest chip-maker in the world, whose micro-processors run most PCs. He also formulated "Moore's Law", which says technology will make chips halve in size and their processing power double every 18 months. It has held true for decades.

The Hi-tech High Rollers

Notable recent donations to Cambridge University:

October 98 - Gordon and Betty Moore give pounds 7.4m to a science and technology library

January 98 - the Margaret Thatcher Foundation gives pounds 2m to set up a professorship of enterprise studies. (Lady Thatcher went to Oxford University)

October 97 - Bill Gates gives pounds 12.4m from his personal help fund a new science block

May 97 - Microsoft invests pounds 50m in a new software research centre attached to the university