Irvine Alan Stewart Laidlaw, Baron Laidlaw

Irvine Alan Stewart Laidlaw, Baron Laidlaw is a prominent Scottish businessman and philanthropist, best known for his success in the conference organizing industry. Born in 1942 in Keith, Banffshire, Scotland, Laidlaw is the son of Margaret and Roy Laidlaw, who was a Banffshire mill-owner. He received his education at Merchiston Castle School, Leeds University and Columbia Business School in New York City.

Irvine Laidlaw’s Education

After graduation, Laidlaw transformed a small US publishing company he purchased in 1973 into the world’s largest conference organizer, the Institute for International Research (IIR). He sold the company in 2005 for an estimated sum of £768 million, after calling off a £500 million flotation in 2001 due to market conditions. In 1988, he founded Abbey Business Centres, a subsidiary of IIR that provides serviced office space, meeting rooms, and virtual office packages across 13 business centers in Great Britain.

In 2015, the University of Leeds opened the £26 million Laidlaw Library, named after Laidlaw, in recognition of his £9 million donation – the largest the university has received from any donor. Laidlaw is also a part-owner of a $2.1 billion wind farm project and has secured the largest clean-energy financing in 2015 from several lenders, including Deutsche Bank AG.

Irvine Laidlaw Classic Car Collection

Laidlaw has a passion for classic cars, having previously owned and raced a Jaguar and a 1962 Ferrari GTO. He recently sold a collection of classic sports cars to raise £17 million. In 2004, Laidlaw committed to donating most of his fortune over the next 20-30 years to help disadvantaged young people. He is currently the Chairman of the Irvine Laidlaw Foundation, also known as the Laidlaw Foundation, which he established to advance education, particularly for underprivileged young people, through grants and financial assistance to educational institutions globally.

The Laidlaw Foundation

The Laidlaw Foundation has three core programs: the Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship Program, the Laidlaw Women’s Business Education Program, and the Laidlaw Schools Trust. Laidlaw has also made donations to several organizations, including The Prince’s Trust, the Rural Education Access Program, Scottish Opera, and the Glyndebourne Festival production. Additionally, he has been a private investor for Ben Ainslie Racing and a donor to Newcastle University’s Laidlaw scholarship program.

Irvine Laidlaw is a successful businessman and a generous philanthropist, making a significant impact on the lives of countless young people and communities around the world through his philanthropic endeavors.

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