Prof. Adam Beaumont
A scientist and electrical engineer, Adam Beaumont began his career with a PhD in Physical Chemistry and a three-year stint as the University of Leeds’ youngest lecturer, in quantum mechanics and thermodynamics.
Beaumont fell in love with the internet in the late ‘90s, moving into secure mobile communications for the Ministry of Defence, where he helped build their cyber teams.
Now considered one of the UK’s leading authorities on cyber security, Beaumont was, at the same time, starting aql. He has since grown the company from a domain registrar and email and web host into a £10 million-a-year telecoms operator with a national mobile network and a string of data centres.
Beaumont overcame the challenges of running an internet company outside of London by, quite literally, bringing the internet to the North. He has built critical pieces of the UK’s internet infrastructure, and is now responsible for much of the data flowing through the North of England. One of aql’s Leeds data centres, located in the historic restored Salem Chapel, is home to IXLeeds, the only independent internet exchange outside London. IXLeeds, which Beaumont co-founded, is the main hub for exchanging traffic between north and south, and creates a geographically-resilient backup for connecting the UK to the rest of the world.
Beaumont was recently made a visiting professor of Cyber Security at the University of Leeds, is a patron of the city and plays a key role in the government’s Northern Powerhouse plan. Beaumont is transforming the North into a data-driven, connected economy through projects such as aql’s free city WiFi initiative, delivered in part through repurposed Doctor Who-esque blue phone boxes, and its work in smart cities. aql’s data centres are among the most efficient in the country, and excess heat will soon be shared with social housing, community centres and the district heating service – a joined-up approach to innovation and a blueprint for our sustainable future.
His long-standing overseas work has ranged from establishing UK:Estonia TechLink and leading a Northern Powerhouse trade mission to San Francisco, to partnerships in Australia, the Baltics and the Isle of Man. At the request of the Estonian government, Beaumont is currently constructing the honorary Estonian embassy, just over the road from aql’s headquarters.
BlueWave Communications, the Isle of Man ISP and mobile operator Beaumont bought in 2015 following the death of founder Stuart Baggs, is rolling out the first affordable 4G broadband service on the island. A fund was established in Baggs’ name to help budding local entrepreneurs.
Beaumont’s latest venture is not-for-profit investment platform NorthInvest. With partners already including KPMG, UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) and TechLink, NorthInvest aims to connect ventures with mentors and investors and promote investment in the North.
A Trustee at the Eden Project, Governor of Leeds City College and Tech Advisor to the Great Exhibition of the North 2018, Beaumont was recently named International Director of the Year for Yorkshire and the North East by the Institute of Directors.
The goal in all Beaumont’s work is moving the North towards a connected, green, entrepreneurial future. By creating the infrastructure, building the right skill base through education and opening the doors to investment and mentorship, Beaumont has catalysed digital growth in the region, and has been responsible, perhaps more than anyone, for putting Leeds on the digital map.