Sir Tim Smit

Executive Vice Chairman & Co-founder of the Eden Project

Sir Timothy Bartel Smit KBE  is a Dutch-born British businessman, famous for his work on the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project, both in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom.

He worked as an archaeologist before taking an unexpected leap into the music business, working as both a song-writer and producer receiving seven platinum and gold discs.

In 1987 he moved with his family to Cornwall and became involved with Rob Poole, John Nelson and The Lost Gardens of Heligan. During his time at Heligan, Smit wrote a popular book about the project.

Tim Smit in conversation with Silver Donald Cameron about his work.

Later he dreamt up and then created the Eden Project, near St Austell, an £80 million initiative to build two transparent biomes in an old china clay pit near the village of Bodelva. The biomes contain different eco-climates; rainforest and Mediterranean. The outside area is also described as a biome and features areas such as “Wild Cornwall”. Eden aims to educate people about environmental matters and encourages a greater understanding and empathy with these matters. Smit raised the needed funds and was the driving force, pulling the team of people together to build what has been described as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ ; the site design was by Nicholas Grimshaw. The Eden Project is said to have contributed over £1 billion into the Cornish economy.

Smit’s book about the creation of the Eden Project, ‘Eden’, was first published in 2001 and updated on the 10th anniversary of the opening in March 2011. It is the best-selling environment book of the century to date.

Smit was appointed Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2002 New Year Honours and awarded the Kilgerran Award of the Foundation for Science and Technology in 2003. In 2006 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Design degree by the University of the West of England “in recognition of his outstanding achievements in promoting the understanding and practise of the responsible management of the vital relationship between plants, people and resources, which have made a major contribution regionally, nationally and internationally to sustainable development, tourism, architecture and landscape architecture”.

In the early 21st century, Smit became a Social Enterprise Ambassador. Social enterprises use a business to address a social or environmental need. The Social Enterprise Ambassadors programme is led by the Social Enterprise Coalition and is supported by the Office of the Third Sector, part of the UK government’s Cabinet Office.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 2001 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel at the Eden Project

Smit was appointed Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in January 2011 in recognition of his services to public engagement with science. In May 2012, the award was made substantive when he became a British citizen, allowing Smit to use the title “Sir”.

In November 2016, Smit was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in Doctor of Education from Bournemouth University.

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