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Innovate UK at India-UK Tech Summit

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The India-UK Tech Summit in New Delhi – 5 Summits, 30 conference sessions, 180 speakers, an exhibition, over 2000 delegates, two Prime Ministers and a host of other Indian and UK ministers - certainly put a huge emphasis on the India-UK technology and innovation relationship.

India-UK Tech Summit, November 2016
India-UK Tech Summit, November 2016

Having been at the joint India-UK science and innovation meeting in November 2014, where Greg Clark (then Science and Innovation minister) agreed with the Indian Government for the UK to be the partner country, it was good to see the India-UK Tech Summit finally spring into life.

It’s time for a renaissance between India and UK

The tone was set at the beginning with the Summit being opened by Indian Prime Minister Modi and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, talking about the importance of the relationship between the two countries.

It is time for a renaissance in the relationship - where the UK is seen as a partner of choice not because of historic ties but because it makes business sense.

Working together on areas of mutual strength and opportunity, where there is clear mutual benefit in doing so.

During his speech Prime Minister Modi said:

India’s partnership with UK in industrial research has been one of our most exciting programmes

and mentioned Innovate UK.

Having established the programme with India, it really makes you think about how far Innovate UK has come as an organisation over the last 10 years and the increasing global nature of what we do.

Major opportunities for UK tech businesses in India

The Tech Summit demonstrated some of the best in Indian and UK R&D and innovation and provided an insight into the depth of capability and inventiveness that exists in both countries.

India is a vibrant and exciting market - the world’s fastest growing economy and a population of 1 billion people. Such size and fast growth bring both challenges and opportunities.

There are major opportunities in many areas including:

  • high value manufacturing
  • healthcare and life sciences
  • agri-tech
  • future cities

Future cities is a growth area in India because:

  • more than 50 of its cities currently have over a million people
  • India is expected to account for 51% of the global urban population by 2060
  • they have created a high-profile, government-led 100 smart cities programme

The 22 UK companies on the Connected Cities mission visited the Tech Summit and then went to Pune and Kochi to explore the Indian market and seek opportunities.

Exhibiting the best in Indian and UK R&D and innovation

The Tech Summit exhibition was themed around manufacturing, healthcare and smart cities. The area was filled with lots of exciting UK companies and organisations including the GREAT branded LUTZ Pathfinder autonomous vehicle from the Transport Systems Catapult, which always attracts a lot of attention.

Two exciting UK start-ups in the exhibition also had lots to celebrate. They were both successful in the inaugural WIRED Audi Innovation Awards in London:

  1. Bristol-based Open Bionics: which develops affordable 3D-printed bionic hands for amputees
  2. what3words: which aims to change the way the world uses maps by converting GPS coordinates into unique three-word codes.

It demonstrated that some of the best and most innovative companies see India as a potential partner and market.

Me playing with Open Bionics product at the India-UK Tech Summit

Making business partnerships

The India-UK Tech Summit was also a place where partnerships were being made.

SPECIFIC, an Innovation and Knowledge Centre led by Swansea University and funded by Innovate UK, EPSRC and the Welsh Government, and one of its spin-outs, BIPVco, furthered discussions with potential Indian partners with the aim to transform buildings into power stations bringing affordable energy to off grid communities.

As part of attending the Tech Summit, BIPVco secured a trial to pilot their building-integrated solar-roof product at two Chennai sites with a multinational Indian hotel chain.

Science and Innovation Minister announces UK-India research investments

Finally, Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Jo Johnson was on hand to launch the latest Newton-Bhabha Fund calls with India.

He announced a £1.6 million competition seeking innovative affordable healthcare, clean technology and electronic system design and manufacture solutions for India. He also announced a joint £8m research and innovation fund that brings innovative biotechnologies to market for cleaning, processing and using industrial waste streams.

Launch of new India-UK R&D programme at India-UK Tech Summit in Delhi with Jo Johnson, Dr Ruth McKernan and Dr Harsh Vardhan
Launch of new India-UK R&D programme at India-UK Tech Summit in Delhi with Jo Johnson, Dr Ruth McKernan and Dr Harsh Vardhan

Keeping the momentum up after India-UK Tech Summit

The Tech Summit made a clear statement that there is intent on both sides to work together more actively on technology and innovation. It is now important to capitalise on the momentum the Tech Summit has delivered for it to have true impact in the longer-term.

Follow me on Twitter: @David_Golding

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