Chapter 4

The BP Institute, founded 2000

“You mustn’t make it too long, Dan, because it’s only £25 million and you can’t expect people on the main Board of BP to turn over the page for 25 million.”

Meanwhile, at BP, Andrew Mackenzie had become CEO John Browne’s right-hand man. In the late 1990s, Browne wanted to boost research at BP by developing links with universities. “His idea was to set up some institutes. He wanted to set up three, in Europe, one in the US and one in the Far East; he gave Andrew the job of deciding where these were. After going round the other universities he then came to see me and said was I interested in setting up such an institute; I said yes!” McKenzie and Mackenzie wrote down how the BP Institute at Cambridge should be run and funded, on one sheet of paper. “Andrew said to me ‘You mustn’t make it too long, Dan, because it’s only £25 million and you can’t expect people on the main Board of BP to turn over the page for 25 million’ This has turned out to be an absolute winner and the basis of it all was trust. … This has worked brilliantly. Everybody else wants to control the institutes they set up and that of course is not what good academics want to do. They do not want to have their careers determined by a bunch of people who don’t understand the role of fundamental research in the industry and applications.”

How did your relationship with industry develop?