In 2021, the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre received the inaugural Bhattacharyya Award by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Warwick Manufacturing Group. The annual Award is a tribute to Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya KT CBE FREng FRS, Britain’s first ever Professor of Manufacturing and a strong advocate for partnerships between industry and universities.
Winning the Bhattacharyya Award in 2021 provided meaningful recognition of the work happening at the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre. The Innovation Centre has enabled a wide range of rival companies to collaborate, leading to incredibly successful research and innovation. It has had a global impact on 5G strategy, policy and regulation, and has helped many UK businesses to bring their products and services to the world.
One of the great things about winning the Award was that it represented recognition for not just one person but everyone at the Innovation Centre and at our partner organisations who have worked so hard to make it a success. It was an honour to receive this recognition, especially from the Royal Academy of Engineering and in the name of Lord Bhattacharyya. I am proud that our organisation was picked as the winner amongst many outstanding nominated research organisations in the UK.
The Award’s prestige has proved invaluable in highlighting the Innovation Centre’s achievements and encouraging a wider pool of potential partners to collaborate with from further afield. We have been working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to help to develop the UK’s 5G strategy and ecosystem. Many other organisations have shown interest in how we’ve been able to collaborate with a range of competing industry partners. We hope to build on our work to date with the 6G Innovation Centre, opened by the University of Surrey in 2020.
Collaboration is so important because research by its nature is a risky and expensive business - especially for one organisation to do on its own. Collaboration allows partners to share the risk of a large investment. The telecommunications industry also relies on a global standard – as no one company or country can set a telecommunication standard on their own, it is even more important to work together.
Lord Bhattacharyya pioneered industry-academia collaboration in the UK. He was a great role model for demonstrating that universities and industry partners can work together to achieve mutual benefit and attract investment. Industry-academia partnerships push the limits of what is possible in many areas of research and development and help the UK to be a world leader in innovation. Academia remains a valuable partner to industry by helping partners to transform research into a product.
There are so many examples of great innovation happening across the UK, in so many industries and academic fields. I look forward to seeing the next round of finalists for the Bhattacharyya Award for 2022.