Founder of the successful Warwick Manufacturing Group, Professor Kumar Bhattacharyya, was awarded an honorary doctorate by Monash University last week.
An influential figure in British manufacturing, Lord Bhattacharya said that the group had been successful since its founding in 1980 as it had been able to demonstrate its value to industry.
At the time of the WMG’s establishment, British industry was concerned with Japanese and German competition.
“There was an awareness that if we do not do R&D we would not get the product base to compete,” Lord Bhattacharyya told The Australian Financial Review.
The collaborative research/industry group’s £200 million (almost $400 million) research budget is 90 per cent funded by industry. Most of this is British, with German Indian and Chinese companies also significant backers.
“There has been a huge impact from the early work we did and in return they fund our research very well,” he said.
“That was the biggest trigger in making the companies gel with us.”
In a 2013 profile he described the two missions of WMG as being to encourage British businesses to invest more in R&D and to improve the training they gave to managing and workers.
The Professor moved from India to England in 1961 to complete a two-year apprenticeship at aerospace and automotive components maker Lucas Industries.
During his career he also advised prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair and helped broker Tata’s 2008 takeover of Jaguar and Land Rover.
The University of Warwick and Monash launched the Monash-Warwick Alliance – which involved manufacturing, nanomaterials, smart vehicles and research linkages – in 2012.