Chairman of Cobra Beer and Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, Lord Bilimoria was appointed an Independent Cross Bench Peer in the House of Lords in 2006. He is one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs after creating Cobra Beer, a beer that became the nation’s favourite within a decade, and is one of the UK’s leading expert commentators and speakers on business and entrepreneurship.
Chairman of Cobra Beer and Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, Lord Bilimoria was appointed an Independent Cross Bench Peer in the House of Lords in 2006. He is one of the UK’s leading expert commentators and speakers on business and entrepreneurship.
Having qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst and Young, London, and graduated in Law from Cambridge University, Karan had the idea for his own business. Searching for a smoother, less gassy lager with the qualities of an ale, he developed a premium lager that would appeal to ale drinkers and lager drinkers, and men and women alike, as well as accompanying food of all kinds.
Cobra Beer is the perfect accompaniment to any food, brewed to a complex and innovative recipe that includes traditional ingredients for an Indian lager – barley malt, maize, three varieties of citrus hops, wheat, and rice. Cobra Beer developed into one of the fastest growing beer brands in the UK and was ranked in the 1999 Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100, a list of the UK’s fastest growing unquoted companies. Cobra Beer is now a joint venture with Molson Coors.
Aside from being a household name in Britain, Cobra Beer is now one of the UK’s most successful export brands, sold in over 40 countries worldwide, and is one of the highest-awarded beers in the world, winning 94 global gold medals at the Monde Selection awards, as well as the prestigious Prize of the Jury in 2017 – one of only five drinks to receive the award in a competition between 3,000 products.
In 2004, Lord Bilimoria was awarded a CBE for services to business and entrepreneurship and was appointed Chair of the Advisory Board at the Cambridge Judge Business School in 2016. He has served as a member of the Government’s National Employment Panel from 2001 to 2007 and as Chairman of the Panel’s Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (SME) Board from 2001 to 2005.
Lord Bilimoria is one of the UK’s most vocal champions of the bilateral ties with India, and is the Founding Chairman of the UK-India Business Council and a Founding Member of the Prime Minister of India’s Global Advisory Council. He has accompanied the Prime Minister on trade delegations to India and was an Ambassador for the UKTI-backed International Festival for Business in 2016. A regular contributor to debates in the House of Lords, he has contributed to debates about the future of international trade and investment in the UK, as well topics ranging from including transport and infrastructure, higher education, immigration and ethnic minorities to business, finance and the economic impact of entrepreneurship.
In 2016, Lord Bilimoria was also appointed Chair of the Manufacturing Commission, and he holds a number of distinctions for his contribution to UK manufacturing – in particular, brewing – and international trade. He was honoured with the Award for Outstanding Achievement 2005 by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in the Institute’s 125th anniversary year; as Business Person of the Year 2004 by the London Business Awards, awarded by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and as London Entrepreneur of the Year 2003 (Consumer Products) by Ernst & Young, the most prestigious business award in more than 35 nations worldwide.
Having served as Vice Chairman of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Asian Business Association and Deputy Chairman of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 2008 to 2010, Lord Bilimoria still holds distinguished roles in industry, enterprise and the higher education sector. In 2005, Lord Bilimoria was appointed Chancellor of Thames Valley University, at the time the youngest ever University Chancellor in the UK, where he served until 2010. He is an Honorary Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and an Honorary Life Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA), a member of the RSA Advisory Council and a member of the RSA Development Board. He is also President of the UK Council for International Student Affairs and Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Students.
His countless awards and achievements are a testament to his accomplishment and business prowess. A regular contributor to national radio and television discussions on business and current affairs and able to share his story on the corporate circuit, Karan is a brilliant keynote speaker.