A new West Midlands India Partnership (WMIP), which aims to enhance UK-India relations and boost tourism, trade and investment between the West Midlands and India, has launched.
The Partnership will support the region’s long-term economic growth plans by developing stronger links and opportunities for collaboration as part of a five-year programme of activity with the Indian market.
Dr. Jason Wouhra OBE, Chair of the West Midlands India Partnership, said: “The West Midlands India Partnership is a confident step forward at a time when building resilient, productive economies is key. Through the Partnership’s long-term strategy, we aim to identify opportunities for both Indian and local businesses to trade, innovate and grow.
“By strengthening networks, collaboration in academia and airline connectivity, we want to build on our shared history to forge new opportunities for a confident future. As the former co-owner and director of East End Foods plc – a globally trading, West Midlands success story, I want to encourage Indian-owned businesses to follow in my steps and capitalise on this region’s potential.“
The WMIP will build on India’s strong track record of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the West Midlands, acting as a single point-of-contact for potential new investors. After the US, it is the leading source of FDI and FDI employment in the West Midlands – over the last 10 years, 13,000 new jobs have been created.
The region’s strong business offer has already attracted some of India’s biggest companies, including Tata Motors, State Bank of India, Infosys, OLA, Enzen Global, Suprajit Group, Elder Pharmaceuticals and more recently, Microland.
Dr. Aman Puri, Consul General of India, Birmingham, added: “This initiative offers both British and Indian companies a fantastic new platform to collaborate on a wide range of established and emerging technologies. For SMEs in particular, it presents a real opportunity to develop more connected supply chains and scale through new commercial partnerships.
“I encourage enterprising businesses with ambitions to drive forward the industries of tomorrow, to join this exciting programme and realise the innovative potential of the West Midlands, as well as India’s growing ambitions in high-growth manufacturing and technology. I look forward to supporting the important and inspiring vision of the West Midlands India Partnership.”
Beyond trade and investment, the Partnership aims to increase leisure visitors to the region, boost connectivity between the geographies, strengthen ties across universities and engage Indian diaspora in the West Midlands.
The region welcomed more than 38,000 visitors from India in 2018 and has seen a 16% increase in leisure visits in the last five years. Meanwhile, West Midlands universities have seen a 33% increase in their Indian student intake over the same period.
The WMIP aims to expand on this strong base through targeted marketing and communications campaigns to encourage new Indian visitors and businesses to the West Midlands. The region is already home to the biggest Indian community outside of London with more than 200,000 people of Indian origin living in the region.
Lakshmi Kaul, Head & Representative – UK at Confederation of Indian Industry, added: “The West Midlands is a melting pot of cultures, diversity and business excellence – the region is important for Indian industry as a hub of innovation and research.
“Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is pleased to support the West Midlands by working alongside the Partnership to amplify business-to-business, as well as the people-to-people connection, while also addressing the economic growth and recovery roadmap.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, added: “The West Midlands’ innovation-led Industrial Strategy alongside the scale and ambition of India’s manufacturing, life sciences and technology sectors presents a major opportunity for world-class industry collaboration, helping to attract significant investment and create new, local jobs.
“The West Midlands India Partnership will bring together some of the best talent and capabilities to not only stimulate cross-market trade, but to help address shared social and economic challenges faced by the UK and India. I am delighted we have been able to secure this Partnership, which represents a further strengthening of the already excellent ties between our region and India.”
The Partnership will support another important programme of activity for the region – a dedicated, Government matched-funded Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Tourism, Trade and Investment Programme designed to maximise the economic benefits of the global spectacle. The Programme will feature in-market activity linked to Games-focused events such as the Queen’s Baton Relay.
The WMIP will be governed by two separate boards comprised of senior stakeholders, leaders and representatives. The Advisory Board will be responsible for the strategic direction of the Partnership, providing advice and guidance to the Executive Board, which will shape the planning and delivery of the programme’s activity.