Nathu Puri Institute for Engineering and Enterprise

Our vision is to enable enterprising engineers by embedding enterprise into engineering education and industrial practice

About us

Engineers need to have a full grasp of the technical competencies across traditional engineering areas, including numerical and design skills as well as an ability to be effective in knowledge-driven organisations through working as part of engineering teams and projects. But will this be enough for the engineer of the future?

At the Nathu Puri Institute (NPI) for Engineering and Enterprise at London South Bank University (LSBU), we believe that engineers need to gain access to the latest knowledge and tools to help them become more enterprising – creatively developing an idea from concept through to a new product or service as well as being entrepreneurial (or intrapreneurial) to develop a new business venture.

The Institute was established at LSBU in 2011, following a generous donation by the Puri Foundation. The Institute was founded by Emeritus Professor Rao Bhamidimarri and in 2018 LSBU appointed Professor Simon Philbin as the Institute Director.

Access the NPI 2019 Annual Report (PDF File 4,021 KB) for further details about the Institute.

What we do

The Institute undertakes an integrated set of research, education and knowledge exchange activities focused on engineering and enterprise. This includes a series of research projects in different areas, such as understanding the creative process for engineers, measurement of sustainable development goals on infrastructure projects, increasing our understanding of the entrepreneurial journey as well as investigation of emerging technologies and the process of technological innovation.

The Institute delivers educational programmes associated with engineering and enterprise, including in areas such as technology evaluation and commercialisation as well as project management. The Institute also acts as a knowledge hub for engineering and enterprise – sharing this knowledge with others and developing new collaborations with partners in the UK and internationally.

Contact us

For more information or if you have any queries, please email: NPI@lsbu.ac.uk.

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Prof Simon Philbin

Professor Simon P Philbin

Role: Director of the Nathu Puri Institute for Engineering and Enterprise
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7815 7559

Simon joined LSBU in 2018. He previously worked as Director of Programme Management at Imperial College London and while at Imperial over 15 years, he held a number of senior management roles. Before Imperial he worked for an agency of the Ministry of Defence (DERA). Simon holds a BSc and PhD in chemistry and an MBA. He is published across several areas including project management, research & technology management, and chemistry. He has also presented his work at conferences across North America and Asia. He currently serves as the President of the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM).


Thomas Empson

Thomas Empson

Role: Research Fellow and Doctoral Researcher, Nathu Puri Institute for Engineering and Enterprise
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7815 7179

Thomas started lecturing in Higher Education in 2007 and has taught entrepreneurship, fashion, management, marketing and sustainable development at numerous universities since. He has successfully bridged several industry collaborations between institutes and high-profile brands including the Design Museum, Somerset House and John Lewis. Thomas’s PhD, titled Creative Engineering for a Sustainable Future has been presented in part at the Global Engineering Congress, Futurebuild 2019, the International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education and to the Society for Research in Higher Education. Additionally, Thomas has managed several funded projects for funders including Nesta, Big Lottery Fund and Goldsmiths, University of London.


Paul Mansell

Paul Mansell

Role: Doctoral Researcher, Nathu Puri Institute for Engineering and Enterprise
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7815 7512

Paul has gained over 25 years’ experience as a senior strategy, planning and policy analyst, in the UK and abroad, having worked with Central Government at Ministerial and CEO level. Paul now shares his time between supporting global conservation NGOs, PhD research and as a senior advisor to the UK government on its largest projects, typically in excess of £1Bn, where he advises on the interface between government and the private sector. He latterly completed an MSc at Oxford University in Major Programme Management.


Pavan Kumar

Pavan Kumar Sala

Role: Doctoral Researcher, Nathu Puri Institute for Engineering and Enterprise
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7815 7560

Pavan holds a Bachelor degree (B.Tech) in Mechanical Engineering from the JNT University in India. He went on to complete his MBA at the ICFAI business school. After graduating, he joined the HDFC Bank, one of India’s leading and largest private sector banks as a Relationship Manager. His role included providing financial advice, marketing, sales and investment portfolio management for private high net individuals. He is a certified Credit Risk Manager and a Certified Project Finance Analyst.


Sunita Selvarajan

Sunita Selvarajan

Role: Project Administrator
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7815 7512

Sunita joined the Nathu Puri Institute in January 2017. She provides project and administrative support for the Institute. Prior to joining the education sector, Sunita worked in the private sector delivering technological change and service improvement projects for global organisations, such as Ernst & Young LLP, Accenture and BP.

Affiliated academic staff



Sunita Selvarajan

Prof. Shushma Patel

Role: Director of Education and Student Experience
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7815 7412

Prof. Shushma Patel is the Director of Education and Student Experience in the School of Engineering at London South Bank University (LSBU). She also chairs the Ethics Committee and joined the LSBU Board of Governors in 2012.


Sunita Selvarajan

Dr Safia Barikzai

Role: Associate Professor
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7815 8225

Safia Barikzai is an Associate Professor, business IT Pathway Leader and Informatics Placement coordinator within the School of Engineering at London South Bank University (LSBU).

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Creative Engineering for a Sustainable Future

Doctoral Researcher: Thomas Empson

This research study focuses on creative engineering for a sustainable future, utilising a system level perspective framework to measure the contextual pressures facing engineers and businesses today. This framework is applied to case study projects to collate and analyse data relating to the impact that social, environmental and economic factors have on the ability to produce creative engineering solutions. Findings will enable engineering organisations to consider improved management and control of creativity within sustainability initiatives.

Understanding engineers’ contribution to the organisational creative process within sustainable production solutions

Measurement of infrastructure projects’ success against sustainable development goals

Doctoral Researcher: Paul Mansell

Engineering projects are a fundamental mechanism to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) priorities but a restricted ‘output/finance’ definition of project success undermines the likelihood of achieving the 2030 SDG targets - this research aims to develop a theory-led approach to close the gap. The research study focuses on understanding if existing infrastructure project measurements capture SDG impact. It uses empirical evidence from a survey of 325 engineering project managers and 40 interviews with leaders from engineering organisations’ to analyse a current gap in measuring the societal objectives of the SDGs at the project level. The development and testing of a theoretical model and proposed methodology has been completed with the UK Environment Agency (EA). Based on the success of this research work, the findings have been communicated to the UK Government’s Cabinet Office in order to inform how to develop further trials to test the wider applicability of the SDG measurement approach across EA’s £5.2Bn flood prevention portfolio and potentially across all of UK’s portfolio of major infrastructure projects.

Measurement of infrastructure projects’ success against sustainable development goals

Understanding how high-tech entrepreneurs successfully pivot as part of the entrepreneurial journey

Doctoral Researcher: Pavan Kumar Sala

This research study focuses on the practices of high-tech entrepreneurs in order to understand the impact that pivoting, i.e. changing direction has on their entrepreneurial journey. The research will consider the types of pivots available, the possible factors that can trigger pivoting and the impact that this change has on high-tech enterprises. Through the use of a survey tool and wider sources of data gathering, quantitative and qualitative analysis will be carried out in order to derive at an empirical solution. A predictive pivoting model will then be developed to enable high-tech entrepreneurs to understand the benefits that an effective pivoting strategy can have on their business.

See more information and how to enter the research project (PDF File 59 KB)

Read the participation information sheet (PDF File 466 KB)

Understanding how high-tech entrepreneurs successfully pivot as part of the entrepreneurial journey

Research Study on Industry 4.0 and Open Innovation

The research aims to analyse how R&D collaborations contribute to business innovation in Brazilian and European industrial firms in the context of Industry 4.0 and digital transformation. The research is being conducted by Ms. Clarissa Rocha from the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUCPR) in Brazil, under the supervision of Prof. Carlos Quandt and Prof. Fernando Deschamps, and in collaboration with Prof. Philbin from the NPI. As part of the research collaboration, Clarissa was a Visiting Researcher at NPI in the UK for 6 months (2019 to 2020). The research utilises the Open Innovation theoretical concept in manufacturing firms that have already started their journey towards industrial digitalisation. It uses qualitative empirical evidence from non-participant observations of the digital technological structures of each case and interviews with managers of Brazilian and UK manufacturers directly involved in digital projects. The findings will enable manufacturers to understand more about the antecedent factors in preparing for the change towards digitalisation through engaging with external actors to accelerate the operationalization of digital initiatives.

Research on emerging technologies

Prof. Philbin is involved in various strands of research on emerging technologies. This work is based on the application of an engineering management perspective in order to improve our understanding of the challenges and opportunities for a range of emerging technologies. This includes investigating energy sector technologies, such as the adoption of electric vehicles and carbon capture and storage (CCS) as well as different aspects of sustainable engineering. As part of the research studies, Prof. Philbin collaborates with a number of different researchers from other countries.

Research on engineering education

Prof. Philbin has an ongoing research focus in the area of engineering education, skills and industry alignment. This includes understanding the optimal methods available to embed enterprise in engineering education as well as the development of wider professional skills to improve the employability of engineers.

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Current initiatives

Sustainability Special Issue – ‘Driving Sustainability through Engineering Management and Systems Engineering’

Prof. Simon Philbin is currently serving as the Guest Editor for a Special Issue of the Sustainability journal with the theme of ‘Driving Sustainability through Engineering Management and Systems Engineering’.

The Special Issue welcomes empirical research that draws on the theory and practical application of engineering management and/or systems engineering in order to drive sustainability. The submission of articles based on multidisciplinary research studies is also encouraged. Further details on the Special Issue as well as information on the submission of manuscripts can be found on the journal’s website.

NPI Teaching activities

Prof. Simon Philbin is the module leader for the LSBU School of Engineering Master’s level Technology Evaluation and Commercialisation (TEC) module. In this module, postgraduate students are guided towards identifying an emerging technology idea that is evaluated for its commercial potential. Detailed research and analysis is conducted according to a prescribed algorithmic model in order to evaluate the business potential of the technology. This allows the students to develop an appropriate commercialisation strategy for the technology and write the business plan for a potential high-tech start-up company.

Prof. Simon Philbin is the module leader for the LSBU School of Engineering Master’s level Technical, Research and Professional Skills (TRAPS) module. This module provides an education on the knowledge and skills that are necessary for successful completion of the research dissertation in the near future and for professional development in the long-term future. The module includes a thorough grounding on research methods, data analysis and associated aspects concerning the research process. The students are required to prepare a feasibility study report for their proposed Master’s research project and present a summary of the report as part of meeting the requirements for the module assessment.

Prof. Simon Philbin delivers guest lectures and seminars in areas such as project management, research and technology management as well as other areas associated with engineering and enterprise. Prof. Philbin also serves as an external examiner at different universities.

Online course available through the IET Academy

The NPI team has developed a new online course in partnership with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) called ‘Entrepreneurial Skills for Engineers’. The course that is available through the IET Academy aims to equip individuals from the engineering community with the skills to become more innovative and entrepreneurial. The course provides the skills and knowledge that engineers can use as part of the entrepreneurial journey to develop innovative ideas through to new products and businesses.

The course has the following units:

  1. Introduction
  2. Ideation and creativity
  3. Leveraging research and development
  4. Product design
  5. Entrepeneurial finance
  6. Capturing market needs
  7. Managing innovation projects
  8. Leading the team
  9. Strategic business development
  10. Driving continuous improvement into your business

When the course was launched, Martin Davies, Head of Digital Learning from the IET commented: “At the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) we understand that as new technologies emerge and markets become more competitive, it is essential that engineers develop the skills to operate in an innovative and entrepreneurial way and so we are delighted to have worked with LSBU on this unique online course for engineers.”

Find out more about the course.

Institution of Engineering and Technology logo
The IET is the professional society for the engineering and technology community, with more than 150,000 members in 127 countries.

Links with other professional societies and organisations

NPI team members have links and participate in ongoing initiatives with a range of different professional engineering societies and other organisations. Prof. Simon Philbin is associated with the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM). Paul Mansell is working with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Building Research Establishment (BRE), while Thomas Empson previously working with the Design Museum.

Previous initiatives

The Great Competition by the Design Museum

Thomas Empson previously had a leading role in The Great Competition as the Project Facilitator of this UK wide competition delivered by the Design Museum and funded by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. As part of his role, Thomas helped to write the competition brief, develop an outreach lecture on sustainable manufacturing and was responsible for production as well as assisting in the recruitment of several hundred students from across the country to take part in the competition. The project required Thomas to visit universities across the UK to give a presentation on the competition and the importance of sustainable design. This included presenting at LSBU as well as visiting Ravensbourne University, Brunel University, Warwick University, Teesside University, Falmouth University, University of Hertfordshire, London College of Communication and Leeds University. Thomas presented at the launch of the Great Competition and at the final award ceremony, both held at the Design Museum in London. This initiative was a fantastic success in engaging cross-disciplinary student teams to design sustainable design solutions.

Design Museum

NPI Symposium on Innovation in Engineering Education at the Global Engineering Congress, Institution of Civil Engineers, London, October 2018

The Global Engineering Congress (GEC) was held in October 2018 at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in London. The conference focused on the capacity of the global engineering profession to tackle the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In parallel with the GEC event, the NPI team organised in conjunction with ICE the ‘NPI Symposium on Innovation in Engineering Education’.

This event included attendees from industry, universities and various professional societies – including several international attendees. The symposium had a number of presentations by members of the NPI team and also by invited speakers. These presentations were in areas such as entrepreneurship for development, engineering innovation, understanding the role of creativity in meeting the SDGs, developing engineers for global challenges, and the engineering curriculum for the 21st Century.

The Symposium provided an opportunity for the attendees to discuss the current and emerging trends in engineering education in the context of the sustainable development goals as well as the industrial needs for graduate engineers. The Symposium prompted several key topics for ongoing discussions amongst the various attendees.

UN

NPI Thought Leadership Event at the Royal Society in London, July 2018

Following on from the first Nathu Puri Institute for Engineering and Enterprise Thought Leadership event held in April 2018, the Institute embarked on a second event at the Royal Society in London in July 2018. The focus of this event was to discuss and understand ‘The Role of Industry in Promoting Innovation in the Engineering Profession’.

The event again included senior representatives from industry as well as several leading universities and professional engineering societies. The event involved discussions on the changing nature of engineering education as well as the needs of industry for engineers with a wider set of skills beyond the traditional technical foundation. The attendees also discussed the need for innovation both within industry and in regard to curriculum development at universities. It was agreed that there is significant potential for the NPI to address these requirements.

NPI Thought Leadership Event at the Royal Society in London, April 2018

Engineers face continued challenges to meet the demands of the world’s population that has quadrupled over the last one hundred years. Indeed, industry and others have become concerned over the innovative capacity and the predominantly technical focus of engineering education to meet these demands. In order to understand these views, the Nathu Puri Institute for Engineering and Enterprise hosted their first Thought Leadership discussion and dinner at the Royal Society in London in April 2018 entitled ‘Creativity and Innovation in the Engineering Profession’.

The event included senior representatives from industry as well as several leading universities and professional engineering societies. There was discussion on engineering skills development and the industrial requirements for engineering graduates as well as the role of creativity in engineering. Attendees agreed that these were valid areas for the NPI team to be tackling.

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