UK’s drive to expand business in India

The recent launch of the UK’s first business center in India marks the government’s plans to transform the way it operates in several countries and help boost jobs and growth in Britain. The center is located in Gurgaon, the new business hub in the Indian capital, Delhi. The initiative is led by the UK-India Business Council with support from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the British Business Groups (BBGs).

The Gurgaon center was the first to open since Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans in November 2012 to open a network of Business Centers in 20 key emerging markets, to transform the support given to UK business overseas. UK Minister for Trade Lord Green who flew to India with a delegation of British Trade Associations to launch the center in Gurgaon said, “The center will help UK small and medium sized businesses work closer with more established British businesses in India and provide them with the support needed to capitalize on the huge potential of the Indian market. The network of centers across India will also drive a step change in the number of UK companies doing business in India contributing to prosperity in both countries.”

The facilities, which are available to all UK companies, include office space, meeting facilities, hot-desking and event space. Patricia Hewitt, Chair, UK India Business Council (UKIBC) said, “Each center will provide meeting, training, networking and conference space alongside advice and other market entry services, with a particular emphasis on SMEs wanting to get into the Indian market for the first time.”

The UK-India Business Council plans to open its next UK India Business Centre in Bangalore in the first half of 2014. It will build on the format of the center in Gurgaon. Mr. Ian Felton, Deputy High Commissioner, Bangalore said. “Bangalore is one of the future faces of India – hi tech, cosmopolitan and global in outlook. It is a great place for British – Indian collaboration in science, innovation, trade and cultural relations.”

The UK government is already engaged with the State to work on initiatives such as co-funding UK start-ups, connecting UK and Indian innovative technology companies and developing incubation linkage for entrepreneurs.

Leading Indian Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who has joined the UK India Business Council’s Advisory Council, said, “The UK is extremely rich in innovation and research across all sciences, specifically Biotechnology and Life Sciences. The eco-system that the UK offers through research institutes, innovative companies and large scientific pool, fits very well with what Indian companies need at this stage. India is moving ahead rapidly in the value chain from being an outsourcing and low-cost destination to a valuable partner through co-development and risk sharing models.”

The concepts, scope and location of the UK India Business Centre in Bangalore will be developed closely with a number of UK institutions including the Tech Hub UK, a unique London headquartered environment where technology startups can start up faster, ADS, the premier trade organization advancing the UK Aerospace, Defense, Security and Space industries and the recently announced Bangalore Cambridge Innovation Network- driving deeper engagement and commercial activity between technology companies in the Cambridge and Bangalore ecosystems as well as UKIBC members including AcceleratorIndia, Augusta Westland, BAe, PA Consulting and Rolls Royce PLC.

The UK India Business Centre in Bangalore will provide a home-from-home for UK business in the important city, in Karnataka and across the region. UKIBC’s team of India-specialists is client-focused and committed to providing a range of practical market-entry services and world-class facilities. In planning its entry strategy into Bangalore, the UKIBC will continue to work with its Indian Real Estate Partner, Pacific Business Centers, so as to replicate the efficient speed of travel achieved in the opening of the UK India Business Centre in Gurgaon. Depending on demand plans are envisaged to open other centers in Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai.

The UK and India enjoy particularly strong commercial bonds, with India being the third largest investor in the UK and India being the UK’s largest non-European Union market for exports. Indeed, this pivotal relationship continues to grow in strength, and in 2011, UK India bilateral trade grew by 26 per cent, bringing the total to £16.4 bn. The UK also continues to be by far the most popular business destination in Europe for Indian companies, of the 1,200 Indian companies operating in the European Union, 700 operate in the UK. By opening UK India Business Centers, the UKIBC aims to enhance UK-India bilateral trade and make it easier for British businesses, particularly SMEs, to enter India.