The UK Midlands and Maharashtra: Engines of Tech Growth

Spotlight By Sarral Sharma*

The UK Midlands and Maharashtra: Engines of Tech Growth

UK financing has been a powerful tool to support India’s clean energy deployment, including £1.5 billion from UK-based investors in Green/Masala Bonds issued by Indian companies through the London Stock Exchange.

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Theresa May signed the India-UK Tech Partnership in April, they put the enabling power of tech at the heart of our bilateral relationship. The potential that this partnership unlocks is unparalleled; UK-India collaboration across AI/data, future mobility, clean growth, and fintech will see rapid growth powered by more than $400 million of joint research investment by 2021. The Partnership will see us share knowledge, collaborate on research, and create industry partnerships.

I was in India this week to cement the next step in that partnership – establishing links between our regions. As the UK leaves the EU, we have an opportunity to further strengthen our thriving local economies, support local business, and innovation growth while encouraging inward investment that can have a real impact on communities.

That’s why, alongside Sir John Peace, Chairman of the Midlands Engine, and Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, I was there to see first-hand the scale of potential between the Midlands and Maharashtra. Both regions are at the cutting-edge of modern engineering technology driving the future mobility revolution. Bharat Forge’s recent investment in Motor Industry Research Association and Jaguar Land-Rover’s in Warwick Manufacturing Group, combine the best talent, innovation, and commercial opportunities.

In the UK, the Midlands attracted more than 10,500 new highly skilled jobs this year through FDI. It generates more than 13 percent of the UK’s Gross Value Add. Maharashtra is also an engine of growth, with a GSDP of over $330 billion for 2016-17 and a population of more than 112 million. The growth is local and it is right here that the India-UK Tech Partnership matches the UK’s economic devolution with India’s emerging competitive federalism – other examples such as the Northern Powerhouse - Karnataka AI/ data partnerships prove the principle.

But regional collaboration is just one aspect of a wide-ranging partnership. Our two nations are also embracing new ideas of financial technology – the future of global finance. Britain is the world’s leading fintech (finance and technology) centre, with over 1,600 fintech companies contributing over £6.6 billion to the economy every year. In India, the digital payments revolution has captured the world’s attention. I’m delighted the Lord Mayor of London is visiting India, along with a fintech delegation, to further explore these opportunities.

Infrastructure is also vital to increase connectivity and trade, facilitate investment, and improve access to public services like education and health. The City of London is the best place in the world to raise capital. Over the last two years, Indian companies such as the Indian Railway Finance Corporation and the National Highways Authority of India have raised over £5.6 billion in London, including through ‘masala bonds’.

Nowhere is the role of tech and finance more transformative than our work on clean energy and growth. UK financing has been a powerful tool to support India’s clean energy deployment, including £1.5 billion from UK-based investors in Green/Masala Bonds issued by Indian companies through the London Stock Exchange. The UK and Indian governments have also contributed £240 million of seed capital into the Green Growth Equity Fund, which will aim to mobilise capital at scale for the clean energy infrastructure that India needs to power its growth.

In past weeks, this aspect of our partnership has gone from strength to strength. My colleague Graham Stuart, UK Minister for Investment, was here in India for the recent MOVE summit. During his visit to the UK, Minister Singh confirmed his desire for greater clean energy collaboration and trade. This week, the UK Special Representative on Climate Change, Nick Bridge, led a tech and finance delegation at RE Invest, India’s flagship event on renewable energy. He also joined the First Assembly of the International Solar Alliance initiative: an example of global leadership by India that we are proud to support.

Already, 33,000 of the 110,000 Indian owned jobs in the UK are in tech and telecoms. UK companies create one in every 20 jobs in India’s organised sector; jobs requiring skills and creating wealth that benefits both India and the UK. Our deepened tech collaboration can only add to this number. The next moment to celebrate this success is the India-UK ‘Future-Tech Fest’ in December. The thought leadership summit will be an unmissable opportunity to celebrate our joint progress on the partnership. It will also provide a unique platform for discussing the future governance and ethics of tech across multiple fields.

In changing times, the India-UK tech relationship is only getting deeper: spanning innovation, finance, mobility, and energy — harnessing the India-UK relationship as a combined force for good in the world. As our two countries embrace the technological revolution ahead of us, we can use complementary strengths to create jobs, promote trade, and tackle shared challenges.

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Diplomatist Magazine was launched in October of 1996 as the signature magazine of L.B. Associates (Pvt) Ltd, a contract publishing house based in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi, India, the National Capital.