Death announced of Professor Lord Bhattacharyya

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The death has been announced of leading Midlands academic and the founder of the Warwick Manufacturing Group, Professor Lord Bhattacharyya.

Lord Bhattacharyya, who was 78, died on March 1 after a short illness. He leaves a massive legacy on not just Midlands industry, but for the sector nationally, even internationally.

Amongst his many accomplishments, he is widely acknowledged to have played an influential role in the decision by his friend Ratan Tata to acquire Jaguar Land Rover in 2008 and to establish it as the UK’s preeminent automotive marque.

Tributes have poured in for the man, from the academic, business and political sectors, the breadth of the acclaim an illustration of his standing in society.

Sir David Normington, Chair of Council and Pro-Chancellor of University of Warwick said:

“Long before I joined the University of Warwick Council, I knew of Professor Lord Bhattacharyya as an adviser to successive Prime Ministers and Secretaries of State and a tireless advocate for UK manufacturing industry. Then, as Chair of Council I had the great good fortune to see close up his extraordinary commitment to University of Warwick, to Coventry and the West Midlands and to UK plc.

“He was a force of nature. He pushed at boundaries, he changed lives, he created jobs, and he set the standard for how universities should work with industry. Most of all, for so many of us, he was also a kind and generous friend. We shall miss him terribly but here at Warwick he will remain our inspiration for many years to come.

“We send our love and deep condolences to Bridie and his family.”

Warwick’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Croft said: “Professor Lord Bhattacharyya served for four decades at Warwick founding and leading WMG. However, his service goes far beyond this University. The achievements of WMG, particularly his own wisdom, passion, and advocacy of the importance of manufacturing, technology, research teaching, and training has helped guide regional, national and international leaders, business figures and policy makers. He has helped preserve and create jobs and transform companies, economies, and individual lives, above all in our region. We mourn the passing of a unique man but we also celebrate all that he has achieved and are thankful that those achievements will have a massive impact for years to come.”

The University said it would be posting a longer tribute to his life and achievements in due course.

It said as Lord Bhattacharyya had touched so many people, there were many who would want to show their respects and commemorate his life and achievements. It is therefore planning a memorial event and further details would be announced later.

It said it was the wish of Professor Lord Bhattacharyya that the University ask Professor David Mullins to become the Acting Head of WMG; a position he has accepted.

Professor Mullins said: “It has been a great honour and privilege to have worked so closely with Professor Lord Bhattacharyya for over 20 years. At this sad time, we are all focused on growing the amazing organisation for research, education and impact that he created for national and international benefit.”

Professor Dr. Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Lord Bhattacharyya was a remarkable and inspirational man who played a significant role in UK manufacturing and engineering over the past 50 years.

“He became Britain’s first Professor of Manufacturing and founded WMG in the 1980s which now has a global reputation for its collaborative approach by combining educational excellence with practical relevance to industry. Through his extensive international contacts and his drive towards an exciting and compelling vision of the future, he was instrumental in brokering major partnerships in UK manufacturing including Tata’s investment in Jaguar Land Rover and the recent groundbreaking creation and investment in the National Automotive Innovation Centre - fittingly located in the Lord Bhattacharyya Building at the University of Warwick.

“Lord Bhattacharyya was regarded by leaders in politics, academia and industry as a true pioneer and a passionate advocate for engineering innovation. He received many international honours and awards including the highest honours China presents to foreigners.

“He was an exceptional mentor to many people at Jaguar Land Rover and will be greatly missed.”

Representing the Government, Business Secretary Greg Clark, said: “I am deeply saddened by the death of Professor Lord Bhattacharyya. Kumar has been a heroic figure, helping establish in Britain a world-wide reputation for excellence and innovation in advanced manufacturing.

“Through the WMG, which he founded, and through his extraordinary energy and tenacity Kumar encouraged many firms to locate and expand in Britain. Hundreds of thousands of people in Britain owe their livelihoods to Kumar Bhattacharyya.

“It has been a personal privilege to be able to work so closely with Kumar, who helped inspire our modern Industrial Strategy, and to be his friend. Kumar will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him, and our thoughts are with his wife Bridie, their three daughters Anita, Tina and Malini and their family.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said the passing of Professor Lord Bhattacharyya was a huge loss to the West Midlands.

“I have been honoured to know Kumar as a colleague, a trusted advisor and a friend,” he said.

"He lay behind great successes for Jaguar Land Rover and the Warwick Manufacturing Group, and most recently the National Automotive Innovation Centre and the UK Battery Industrialisation were direct results of his hard work and influence.

"No-one has done more than Lord Bhattacharyya for the West Midlands economy over such a long period of time.”

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