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 skills as well as an ability to be effective in knowledge-driven organisations through working as part of teams and projects. But will this be enough for the engineer of the future? We believe 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 even intrapreneurial) through setting up a new business.

The Nathu Puri Institute (NPI) for Engineering and Enterprise was established at London South Bank University (LSBU) in 2011 to address these challenges, following a generous gift from Professor Nathu Puri CBE, alumnus of LSBU and founder of the Purico Group. The institute is an integral part of the LSBU School of Engineering.

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 as well as increasing our understanding of the entrepreneurial journey.

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 acts as a knowledge hub for engineering and enterprising – sharing this knowledge with others and developing new collaborations with partners.

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 serves on the Board of the American Society for Engineering Management and has been elected as the President for 2019/20.


Thomas Empson

Thomas Empson

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

Thomas is an accomplished academic. He is currently undertaking a PhD within the School of Engineering based at The Nathu Puri Institute. He has an MA in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship from Goldsmiths, University of London, a BA (Hons) in Fashion Design with Marketing from Central Saint Martins and a Professional Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.


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.


photo of staff member

Clarissa Rocha

Role: Visiting Research Fellow
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7815 7550

Clarissa holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from IBMEC RJ, and Accounting from FMJ, Universities in Brazil. After graduating, she joined audit firms, including Ernest Young in Rio de Janeiro as a senior auditor. She completed her Masters’ degree in the Business School at the Brazilian Catholic University, PUC PR, whose research theme was on strategic control mechanisms in manufacturing organizations. In 2016 she started her doctoral program at PUC PR, also at the Business School. Her PhD research objective is to analyse how external R&D collaborations contribute to business innovation in Brazilian and European manufactures that began their journey towards digitalisation. Therefore, her research consists of analysing Industry 4.0 under a more strategic and managerial lens, appropriating and exploring the Open Innovation theoretical approach. In the current research stage, she collected and analysed data from Brazilian companies and she is collecting data from UK based companies


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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Research Study on Industry 4.0 and Open Innovation

Visiting Research Fellow: Clarissa Rocha

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 utilises the Open Innovation theoretical concept in manufacturing firms that have already started their journey towards industrial digitalisation. The research consists of analysing Industry 4.0 under a more strategic and managerial lens. 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 large manufacturers to understand what are the antecedent factors in preparing for the change towards digitalisation, and to consider the relevance of engaging with external actors as a source for accelerating the operationalization of digital initiatives and, therefore, to become more competitive.

Read a summary of the research project
(PDF File 186 KB)

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

Doctoral Researcher: Thomas Empson

This research follows creative innovations within leading UK engineering firms working in the field of sustainable development. The aim of this research is to map and analyse the creative contribution of engineers throughout the project lifecycle within sustainable production projects. This research utilises a number of contemporary frameworks to gather qualitative and quantitative data to profile the contributions of engineers. 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

The research aims to expand current thinking on the relationship between engineering projects and society. It uses empirical evidence from a survey of 325 engineering project managers and 40 interviews with engineering organisations’ CEOs and Heads of Sustainability to analyse a current gap in measuring the societal objectives of the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at project level. Engineering projects are a fundamental mechanism to deliver the SDG 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 governance framework to close the gap.

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 will investigate how entrepreneurs can change direction or pivot as part of the entrepreneurial journey. The research will focus on high-tech entrepreneurs through investigating the types of pivots and the factors that cause them as well as the role of technology in pivoting. This will be investigated through use of a survey instrument with high tech entrepreneurs alongside other research techniques to be developed.

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

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Current initiatives

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 also 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.

Online course available through the IET Academy

The NPI team have developed a new online course in partnership with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) entitled ‘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 covers topics such as developing successful business, marketing and financial strategies; harnessing research and technology; developing ideas and designs; leading winning teams; and managing innovation and continuous improvement projects. The course will provide the skills and knowledge that engineers can use as part of the entrepreneurial journey to develop innovative ideas through to new products and businesses.

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.

The Great Competition by the Design Museum

Thomas Empson is working with the Design Museum to facilitate The Great Competition. The objective of the competition is to promote greater industrial innovation by encouraging undergraduate students from across the UK to develop solutions to today’s most pressing social and environmental issues. The competition aims to promote multidisciplinary collaboration between design, engineering and business students, encouraging them to develop innovative solutions for sustainable manufacturing and design. Students were invited to respond to an industry-led brief, co-written by Thomas with the Design Museum. As the competition’s Project Facilitator, Thomas has been recruiting students from various universities across the UK to participate in the competition. Read an interview with Thomas.

Design Museum

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 is working with the Design Museum.

Previous initiatives

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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