India, the 7th largest economy in the world, is one of the top five countries investing in the Sheffield City Region (SCR), and a leading non-EU export market, and emerging as a strategic target for the region’s business leaders.
And to develop ideas for boosting trade and investment between India and the City Region, a high-level team from the SCR’s Trade and Investment team was invited to a prestige reception at the Indian High Commission in London this week.
They were welcomed to the High Commission by Dinesh K. Patnaik, the Deputy High Commissioner, and held roundtable talks with prominent members of the capital’s Indian business community, highlighting the synergy between the SCR’s strengths and India’s interests.
Together with the UK India Business Council, they presented the SCR’s world-leading strengths in manufacturing design and development which hold great significance for India. These include the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), and the new Sheffield Hallam University Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre. Discussion also focussed on what India is looking for in terms of advanced technological capabilities.
The Region’s excellence in education was also a key aspects of the talks.
Firms including KPMG, TWI, law firm DLA Piper, Monocon International Refractories, and the State Bank of India attended together with representatives of the SCR, Sheffield Hallam University, UK India Business Council and the High Commission of India.
Deputy High Commissioner Dinesh K. Patnaik said: “There exist exciting prospects for Indian firms and businesses outside London and it is essential to highlight and spread information regarding the excellent opportunities that the SCR provides.
“The Access India Programme, launched by the Indian High Commissioner to promote investments from UK small and medium sized enterprises into India, represents a strong prospect, and I urge as many as possible SCR firms as possible to take advantage of this programme.”
Mr Shishir Bajoria, Chairman of IFGL Monocon International, said: “Monocon is a fan of the AMRC and we are in discussions to develop ‘manufacturing best practice’ to optimise Monocon’s new Activated Gel Casting Technology for use in the UK and across our global business, including in India. I’m convinced that there is much more that Indian industry could do in partnership with the AMRC.”
Chris Scholey, a Board member of the Local Enterprise Partnership, the SCR’s business-focussed arm, said: “Prime Minister Modi’s pro-business reforms and strategic initiatives means now is an opportune time to have a focus on India as a market.
“Pragmatic people make a strong workforce – just ask any family-run business, of which we have many here. The ‘let’s get it done’ work-ethic in Sheffield City Region harnesses drive and ambition, and we believe that we share those values with India and Indian businesspeople.”
Topics included the importance of getting Indian delegations outside London and to the North of the UK to see what it has to offer, and the need for more regional programmes, matching sectors and specialisms between Indian and UK regions.
The roundtable discussions also looked at how to help more small and medium sized enterprises to export, and the best ways to connect UK city regions with Indian states given the country’s federal structure.
Kevin McCole of the UK India Business Council said: “It was no surprise that the people around the table were impressed by what the Sheffield City Region has to offer India. The City Region’s excellence in manufacturing and health tech have won new admirers. There are many more people in India that will share this positivity.”
James Richardson, Global Engagement Director for Sheffield Hallam University added that he was delighted to take part in discussions and highlight the value of the University’s ‘Made in Sheffield’ graduates occupying key positions across India’s advanced industries.
He said: “I also welcomed the opportunity to discuss the importance of engaging with health providers and businesses in India to find solutions in preventing ill-health and promoting advancing wellbeing. There are opportunities for investment and collaboration in our Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre and the new National Centre for Excellence in Food Engineering.
“Such provision alongside the world-renowned Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at the University of Sheffield, demonstrates how both universities in Sheffield are strategically well-placed to respond to the needs and demands of the Indian economy.”
Plans are now underway to build on the relationship with key business leaders in India and with SCR-based businesses with links to India, and will get underway in the New Year.