Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, the head of Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), spoke out last week about his belief that the UK needs a bail-out for its car industry. He was “urging a £1 billion-plus bail-out”, to help local industry to get through “ the growing crisis affecting the world car industry.”
Lord Bhattacharyya was writing in _The Birmingham Post_, setting out his reasons “Why we need a bail-out”. Talk of bailing out the car industry comes weeks after the British government invested over £500 billion in the UK’s financial sector. The £1 billion he is seeking seems small in comparison to this, and the $25 billion lent by the US government to its car industry in September.
Lord Bhattacharyya referred to comments made by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, who said “It is essential that we preserve our manufacturing and technology base in this country.” He thinks that this is “Exactly what we must do in the UK” and that there is no reason why it could not work here or in the rest of Europe.
The car industry remains a key part of the West Midlands economy, with around 400,000 people still dependent on manufacturing. Lord Bhattacharyya remains positive of finding a solution, saying “I am sure the government will be forthcoming with aid in a very short time.”
Lord Bhattacharyya set up the WMG, part of the School of Engineering in 1980, with the support of then Warwick vice-chancellor Jack Butterworth. At the time it was bold and unconventional venture, focusing on partnerships with large firms such as Rolls-Royce, and practical experience for students. The aim was “to produce graduates who were neither pure engineers nor pure business graduates, but a mixture of both.”
WMG has grown from “just an office, the Professor and his secretary”, to four specialist buildings with over 300 employees, and has seen over 100,000 students graduate. It has expanded recently with the new ‘Digital Lab’, which was opened by Gordon Brown earlier this year.