22nd December 2017

£85 million gift from the Dolby family to transform Cambridge science

The University of Cambridge has received an £85 million gift from the estate of Ray Dolby, founder of Dolby Laboratories and its world-renowned Dolby Noise Reduction, Dolby Surround, and successor audio signal processing technologies, which have revolutionised the audio quality of music, motion pictures, and television worldwide.

Cambridge Filmworks have partnered with the University to produce a film celebrating the life of Ray Dolby and thanking the Dolby family for their extraordinary gift.

The Dolby family gift is the largest philanthropic donation ever made to UK science, and will support the Cavendish Laboratory, the world-leading centre for physics research where Ray Dolby received his PhD in 1961. Thanks to this exceptional gift, the University has now surpassed the £1 billion milestone in its current £2 billion fundraising campaign. This is the second generous gift to Cambridge from the Dolby family, who donated £35 million to Pembroke College, Cambridge in 2015. The Dolby family is now the largest donor to the fundraising campaign, and the second-largest donor to the University in its 808-year history.

In recognition of this gift, the flagship building of the Cavendish Laboratory redevelopment will be named the Ray Dolby Centre, and is expected to open in 2022. In addition, a new Ray Dolby Research Group will be established at the Cavendish, which will significantly expand research capability and expertise within the new building. The group, which will be led by a new endowed Ray Dolby Professorship, will build on and further strengthen the Cavendish Laboratory’s status and impact as one of the greatest centres of physics research in the world.

Ray Dolby, who died in 2013 at the age of 80, came to Cambridge as a Marshall Scholar in 1957. He received his PhD from the Cavendish in 1961, and was a student and later a Fellow of Pembroke College.

In 1965, he founded Dolby Laboratories in London and invented the Dolby System, an analogue audio encoding system that forever improved the quality of recorded sound. He moved the company in 1976 to San Francisco, where it has been headquartered ever since.

The new Cavendish Laboratory will be its third home since its founding in 1874, and was first announced by the government in its 2015 Spending Review. It promised a £75 million investment in the Cavendish, which has been confirmed today, helping maintain Britain’s position at the forefront of physical sciences research. The funding will be delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Work on the new facility is expected to begin in 2019.

To learn more about the new Cavendish Laboratory plans, please visit:


Cambridge Filmworks
Cambridge Video Production

£85 million gift from the Dolby family to transform Cambridge science.

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