There is no denying that India is an important and growing market for UK business, which is currently second only to Japan as a global investor there. With an annual growth that is outpacing that of China at over 7% and well over a billion consumers, India is a market rich with opportunity, not to mention skills, innovation, and a very large employable workforce. The newly-launched Access India initiative has been designed to offer confidence to 50 UK SMEs to take the opportunity to expand into India.
TWI helping UK businesses to ‘Access India’
Beating the ‘Brexit blues’
With concerns over how Brexit will impact UK business, India could be a strong solution, as mentioned by Rhydian Pountney, General Manager at Renishaw Plc, which has a manufacturing base in Pune, ‘If you are an SME and you want to beat the Brexit blues, India should be one of the first countries you look at,’ he said.
In fact, the figures show that only 20% of UK SMEs currently have any international exposure, of which just 10% are exporters. Interestingly, only 5% of UK SMEs have direct business exposure to European countries.
Access India hopes to increase the number of SMEs operating in India by removing the risks, as High Commissioner of India to the UK, YK Sinha, explained, ‘SMEs need hand-holding. They are not geared up to going into international markets. India was the largest recipient of FDI last year and we are very keen to increase that amount and involve the UK SME sector. The Access to India programme will help encourage manufacturing in India via the UK smaller companies, especially those providing high end technology and innovation where the UK is strong.’
Opening up opportunity in India
Access India was launched by the High Commission of India in the UK, alongside the UK India Business Council, at India House, London, on 27 September, where Shiva Sundaram and Chris Wiseman represented TWI.
Speaking at the launch, Vivek Abraham, the Assistant Vice President of Invest India said, ‘Earlier, the mindset of the Government was all about being the regulator – “these are the rules and constraints and this is the framework the investor must operate in.” Now we are trying to change the mindset to ensure that the red carpet is rolled out to all investors.’
‘Rolling out the red carpet’ to UK investors means providing advice to UK SMEs who wish to export to or invest in India. This includes legal and project financing advice as well as help with strategy, location services, mergers, acquisitions, and government clearance. As a partner in the initiative, TWI will assist with technology transfer for any of the 50 SMEs and / or their Indian partners who need assistance. The support and assistance will be free for those SMEs, who are identified by November this year, with mentoring to be provided into 2018.
Speaking at the Access India launch, Dinesh K. Patnaik, Deputy High Commissioner of India to the UK, told business leaders, ‘We want to move from the UK having a slow burning love affair with India to speed-dating, by speeding up the processes and help for UK SMEs to find the right way to reach India.’
Moving to manufacture?
Deputy High Commissioner Dinesh K. Patnaik confirmed that UK SMEs did not need to have a specific turnover in order to invest in India, but rather that they just need to have a product which they are willing to sell to India.
He also noted how large UK and international enterprises, already in India, can act as a magnet for UK supply chains who may go on to move their manufacturing to India too. ‘If they have a product we need, it is good for us,’ Patnaik said, adding, ‘Once they have accessed India they might find it attractive to make in India too, for local markets, and to the rest of Asia for whom India is becoming a natural manufacturing hub ’
TWI is also being asked to share experience in developing collaborative clusters of businesses, initially operating in the aerospace and automotive industries.
Patnaik, who will be visiting TWI on 17 October, explained how the Access India team would use analytics to assess if a product would be successful in India, noting, ‘Every product made in the UK has the potential to do well in India because the Indian market is huge.’
(Photographs credit: www.lorenzophotography.co.uk)
TWI is a world leading research and technology organisation with a focus on materials, engineering and manufacturing.