India, Israel, and the UK: A new horizon for innovation

India, Israel, and the UK: A new horizon for innovation
India, Israel, and the UK: A new horizon for innovation

The Honorary President of the Conservative Friends of Israel reflects upon the opportunity to build bridges between Israel, the UK and India. The much-anticipated visit by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July 2017 certainly did not disappoint. During the landmark trip, a remarkable seven bilateral agreements relating to cooperation in technology, water and agriculture were signed by the two the Prime ministers of both countries. These growing ties are a celebration of democracy that the UK should not only support wholeheartedly, but also seek to join collaboration efforts. In the UK, we have long-standing and highly profitable trading relationships with both India and Israel, underpinned by our shared values and mutual interests. With our upcoming departure from the European Union, the importance of preferential access to both states' economies cannot be overstated. The UK works closely with India and Israel independently on a wide variety of industries, which if synergised trilaterally could lead to greater socioeconomic benefits for all three parties. As the global start-up economy continues to grow and more locations around the globe become viable start-up ecosystems, competition for investment is fierce. Despite the Indian government's significant easing of business regulations and increased funding for start-ups, Israel and the UK were home to the creation of at least ten times more start-ups per capita than India in 2018.

India's diverse economy is rapidly growing, with strong capabilities in IT, meaning tech-hotbeds such as Bangalore are expected to develop into robust start-up ecosystems. The UK has already identified this opportunity and is set to benefit from it through the 2018 UK-India Tech Partnership. A similar accelerator mechanism exists between the UK and Israel in the UK Israel Tech Hub. The Israel-India Bridge to innovation is another hugely welcome programme incentivising Israeli and Indian start-ups to develop innovative solutions to challenges in agriculture, water, and digital health. Three-way cooperation would allow Israel's brain power and strength in core technologies to work alongside the UK's well established position as a global leader in financial services to the greater benefit of the Indian fintech ecosystem and profit of all three nations. Agriculture is another industry through which Israel and the UK could reap greater benefits working in partnership with India. Israel has two Centres of Excellence in Agriculture established in the Indian Bihar region which aim to introduce agritech solutions to farmers and implement effective support systems to enhance the economic viability through marketing, storage, and transport. The UK's Bihar Agriculture Growth and Reform Initiative also aims to increase farmers' access to technology, but mainly focuses on linking producers to corporate buyers. If these initiatives were to work in unison, Israel could focus their efforts on training farmers to use cutting edge agritech and the marketing of the end product, whilst the UK could specialise in connecting farmers with investors and cooperate buyers. Ultimately, it is clear that our deep relationships with both India and Israel hold the potential for an innovative and mutually profitable post-Brexit trilateral arrangement. Looking to the future, I am hopeful that our countries can work together to meet global challenges whilst building a more prosperous future for the UK, India, and Israel. Lord Stuart Polak CBE is a British Conservative politician, member of the House of Lords and Honorary President of the Conservative Friends of Israel.

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