Senior delegation to showcase the UK’s northern tech sector in India
Senior figures from across the North of England are heading to India to target tech trade links with the world’s fastest growing economy.
The group, including entrepreneurs, business bosses and civic figureheads, are aiming to showcase Northern expertise in a range of different technologies.
They are forming the first high profile delegation to take advantage of a new direct air link between the North’s international gateway – Manchester Airport – and India, in the form of Jet Airways’ direct service to Mumbai.
During their trip, the delegates will look to exploit opportunities for trade and collaboration between India’s fast-growing tech sector and the North’s specialisms in areas such as advanced manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity, health technology, and FinTech.
The synergies between these two parts of the world were highlighted in a special report, called The Northern Powerhouse and India: Unlocking the Opportunity, which was released to mark the launch of direct flights between Manchester and Mumbai last month.
The delegation will take part in the India-UK FutureTech Festival in Delhi and Mumbai. They are part of a UK-wide presence at the event, covering the fields of agritech, creative, healthcare and life sciences, and technology.
International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP, said: “I’m delighted that businesses are already making the most of the new Manchester to Mumbai flight path. As well as opening up trade and collaboration opportunities for businesses and universities, we hope that the link will also help to drive investment into a wealth of opportunities across the Northern Powerhouse. My international economic department has a range of support available to businesses looking to make the most of the new flight route. Support includes finance through our award-winning export credit agency, UK Export Finance, and market advise from our in-country HM Trade Commissioner, Crispin Simon.”
Playing a leading role in the visit is Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport and chair of the Manchester-India Partnership (MIP), who will deliver a keynote speech on the power of connectivity at a reception for all UK attendees in Mumbai, as well as representing the region on a range of panels.
He said: “India is one of the world’s most important markets and it is clear there are many opportunities for economic, social and cultural collaboration with the North. Both parts of the world have globally-significant expertise in sectors such as tech and life sciences and the existence of a direct flight service is key to these links being exploited to their full potential.”
Cowan, who will be joined by colleagues from the Manchester India Partnership – including MIDAS, Deloitte, and the Confederation of Indian Industry – on the trip, added: “It is pleasing to see Jet Airways’ Manchester-Mumbai route is already playing a positive role in connecting people and businesses from across the North with India. I am looking forward to outlining the work of the Manchester-India Partnership during this visit and exploring areas for further joint working.”
Around 20 different businesses from across the North are making the trip to the event, with senior delegations from the Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield City Regions.
Asif Hamid MBE, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “As identified in our Internationalisation Strategy, India is a significant contributor of foreign direct investment into the City Region. Attending the FutureTech Festival will not only enable us to develop further investment opportunities and networks but presents us with a real opportunity to look at bringing Indian tech investment into the City Region around our key growth areas including industry 4.0; big data; artificial intelligence; sensors; materials sciences and data analytics.”
Rachel Clark, director of trade and investment at the Sheffield City Region, said: “High-growth markets such as India are increasingly important to the Sheffield City Region, particularly in the context of Brexit. We’re looking forward to building long-lasting, mutually productive relationships during this visit and as part of our wider programme, as we showcase our cutting-edge university and business collaborations, our excellence in sectors such as healthcare, aerospace and advanced manufacturing, and our vision for a Global Innovation Corridor linking people, places and ideas.”
During the FutureTech Festival, representatives from the North will take place in a series of flagship events involving organisations such as the Confederation of Indian Industry and CBI.
Businesses from the region taking part include vTime, a Liverpool-based “sociable” virtual reality firm, whose technology enables people to share VR experiences over smart phones.
Clemens Wangerin, managing director of vTime, said: “From our previous visits and interactions we know that innovation and quality are just as highly regarded in India as they are here in the UK. Our communications software scores highly in that regard and we believe there are several ways it’s relevant to potential partners in India to bring to the consumer market there. And we have several meetings lined up to explore this further. The better our travel connections in the North, the better for business. Being able to travel to India from Manchester also has a lot of practical advantages; not least the fact that on your return leg, the last stop is “on your doorstep” as opposed to an additional stop-over at another UK/EU hub. It’s incredibly convenient and a significant time-saver!”
Sirius Minerals Plc, a UK based fertiliser development company focused on the development and operation of its polyhalite project in North Yorkshire, is also part of the delegation.
Gareth Edmunds from Sirius Minerals Plc said: “India has the potential to be an important market for us and we’re pleased to be involved in this event. In years to come we hope to be seeing POLY4 from North Yorkshire benefiting farmers and agricultural practices across India.”
The Jet Airways service from Manchester to Mumbai launched on November 5th and operates five times a week.
The Unlocking the Opportunity report identified that the economic priorities of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi aligned strongly with the strengths of the North. It anticipated that economic benefits valued at at least 400m would flow as a result of direct connectivity existing.