Umit Bititci, professor of technology and enterprise management at the University of Strathclyde, has become the first academic to win a new accolade recognising innovative partnerships between higher education and industry.
Although the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) Awards have been running for five years, the 2009 edition included a category highlighting the importance of academics in the success of such ventures.
KTPs are three-way partnerships between businesses, academic institutions and graduates, backed by the Technology Strategy Board, which invests in business-led research and development.
Professor Bititci has brokered more than 30 KTPs since 1987, and the award recognised his commitment to the approach. Although his background is in industry, he said he is committed to academia, and much of his work on KTPs has been published in scholarly journals. "Industry is our research laboratory, and KTPs provide an opportunity for us to conduct longitudinal research projects with industry ... as well as adding value to (their) business."
After graduating as an engineer, Professor Bititci worked as a product development manager, before studying for a masters in manufacturing management at Strathclyde. He then worked for aviation firm AMST in Liverpool, and acted as a consultant for GEC, helping the company to implement a factory-wide business-planning system.
In 1987, he joined Strathclyde as a lecturer, with his early research focusing on business integration and transformation. His first foray into the academy did not last long - he left to join a Scottish management consultancy, where he became a senior consultant. In 1992, Professor Bititci returned to Strathclyde, this time as senior lecturer, and was awarded a PhD for his work on improving business performance. By 1996 he had established the university's Centre for Strategic Manufacturing.
Although an engineer and a consultant at heart, Professor Bititci's academic credentials are obvious: he has a research portfolio worth about £14 million, has published more than 180 papers and supervised 13 doctoral students. He is also the founder and director of the Strathclyde Institute for Operations Management, which provides "thought leadership" for the approach.
Gerry Black, senior KTP adviser, said Professor Bititci deserved the award. "This has been achieved by inspiring many other academics to participate, by developing methods to encourage their involvement and by setting clear strategic ambitions for the use of KTP."