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Professor Tony Purnell

BSc SM (MechE) FREng FIMechE CEng FRSA

Fellow type
Honorary Fellow

Honorary Fellow (former Fellow Commoner in Engineering 2013-22)


An engineer and entrepreneur Tony founded Pi Research in 1986, quickly dominating the race car electronics market. A spin out, Pi Technology, went on to achieve significant US market share with its diesel engine control systems for lorries. Pi Group was purchased by Ford in 1999. In 2003 Ford appointed Tony Team Principal of their Formula One Team, Jaguar Racing. In 2005, he led the sale of the team to Red Bull following Ford’s decision to withdraw.  Shortly after he joined the FIA, exploring regulations to encourage engine efficiency, budget capping and overtaking.

A keen racing cyclist, Tony joined GB Cycling in 2013 to lead the so-called Secret Squirrel Club, focused on the application of technology to cycle racing. The Team won a total of 24 medals, topping the tables at both Rio and Tokyo Olympics. Thinking it was not possible to beat the thrill of Jason Kenny’s seventh gold medal in Tokyo, he retired from cycling at the end of 2021.

He is now part of a team based at the Whittle Laboratory researching Aviation decarbonisation. He also has a hand in some start up companies and is active in assisting students with aspirations to be entrepreneurs.

Tony has been a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor (since 2006) and in 2017, he was elected a Fellow of the Academy.