Realising the UK-India tech opportunity

Realising the UK-India tech opportunity
Realising the UK-India tech opportunity

Despite the lack of clarity, Brexit could open several new avenues for the UK and India, especially in the tech sector.

Highlights:
  • Whilst Brexit doesn't provide much certainty, it can unlock new opportunities for the UK and India to strengthen their tech ties.
  • Recent reports show that investment both to and from UK and India has increased.
  • To maintain the momentum, it's important for both countries to continue to forge newer and stronger channels of collaboration.
  • Governments and private sectors in both countries need to commit resources to understanding new markets, culture, and the regulatory system to lay the ground for successful collaboration.
Much has been made of the political paralysis impacting the UK as it prepares to leave the EU.
has undoubtedly stalled business confidence, casting doubts on the appeal of London as a premier technology hub. However, as British entrepreneurs and investors seek clarity, there is light amid the cloudy outlook. In the absence of concrete government policy, the private sector has taken matters into its own hands. After all, British tech businesses are attracting record funding from across the globe and looking to forge relationships with new markets - India is no exception.

A two-way street

In recent years, we've witnessed the scope and scale of British investment in the Indian market. According to a
report, between 2000 and 2016, the UK invested more than $24 billion in Indian industry. In fact, 2017 saw
of British businesses make new investments in India. In particular, India's
and enterprise technology sectors continue to attract British investors' attention and the UK equivalents are expanding in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. But this is not just a one-way street. Last year alone, data from
revealed that foreign direct investment from India to the UK increased by 255 per cent - with London attracting over 60 per cent of all Indian investment into the nation. It's clear, from both sides, that there's an appetite to do business. And the story goes beyond figures - it's important to build platforms that foster collaboration. Tech London Advocates (TLA) has bolstered the connection between London and key regions of India. For example, we have continuously supported the annual
during London Tech Week, built a TLA India working group during my travels to
, and solidified links between London's private tech sector and the nascent tech hubs emerging all over India. As both economies grow, there are mutual benefits to cementing a relationship and building an active tech corridor to ensure prosperity for both countries.

Making the relationship a reality

Yet, there's still much to be done to ensure that the collaboration fulfils its potential. For this, both the UK and India must overcome some key challenges. And it's up to governments and private sectors in both countries to commit resources to understanding new markets, culture, and the regulatory system to lay the ground for successful collaboration. So far, the environment fostered by President Modi has proven attractive to British tech firms. Tactics such as the introduction of a
highlight how Modi's successful, pro-business policies have been instrumental in incentivising foreign businesses. In addition, India's vast and exponentially growing market is also a ready pool for talent, which is available to those UK businesses looking to expand in India. And talent is crucial to the prosperity of the burgeoning industry.

Solving the talent puzzle

Globally, the UK is the second most popular destination for
- with over
Indian students enrolling at British universities in the 2017/2018 academic year. As the UK prepares to leave the EU, the country needs to provide a clear immigration route that continues to attract vital tech talent. Whilst it is encouraging to see the rising number of Indian students coming to the UK to study in our world-leading universities, it is as important that they have the opportunity to stay and add to the British sector. This means providing the pathway for converting Tier 4 student visas into Tier 2 working visas, ultimately enhancing the British tech talent pool and facilitating increased trade back to India.
Developing a welcoming immigration route that can attract - and retain - exceptional talent is important for the flow and exchange of knowledge, ideas and cementing an active corridor for future business opportunities between both countries. With collaboration comes endless opportunities. As political turbulence and trade wars threaten the health of the global tech sector, the industry's success is dependent on cooperation between individuals and across borders. There's an opportunity for the UK and India to strengthen their tech ties - and whilst Brexit doesn't provide much certainty, it can unlock new opportunities for the UK and others around the world.
Russ Shaw is the founder of Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates.

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