A delegation from India – a blog by Thalej Vasishta, Interest Group Chair for India

On 22 April 2015 Nottingham had the honour and pleasure of hosting a delegation who had come to the city to explore business opportunities with India.


The delegation was led by Dr Virander Paul, Deputy High Commissioner to the UK and included both the Counsel General and the Commerce Attaché of the High Commission of India.  Also part of the delegation was Shuchita Sonalika, UK Head of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Tara Naidu of Air India, Kush Sharma of Infosys, Sanjay Naik of the State Bank of India, Vivek Abrahamof SBICAP (UK) Limited and Ajit Mishra of V-Campus.

Throughout the day commercial opportunities as well as social and educational ties were discussed. More about this later.

Dr Paul stated that he was impressed by the trust and confidence that Nottingham had given in its commitment to India.  Dr Paul particularly emphasised the relationships that had been established since the Nottingham Campaign started (Chris Henning’s first visit in February 2014 to India) not only with the High Commission itself but also the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the City and CII and the University of Nottingham with Panjab University.

Shuchita Sonolika of the CII, who together with Cllr Nick McDonald formally announced the CII and City MOU at this event, said that Nottingham would be of interest not only to Indian companies in the UK but also CII member companies in India who were looking to locate their European operations to here.  What particularly impressed me about Shuchita was her commitment to promote alternative locations to London amongst CII member companies.


Our guests were earlier in the day given a tour of the city to gain a better understanding of our key clusters, specialisms and sectors of focus.  Synergies, areas of collaboration and business opportunities included in Shuchita’s opinion pharma, life sciences and digital, particularly as businesses in these sectors in India are keen to trade and build partnerships overseas including the UK.

Kush Sharma of Infosys said there were opportunities for the Nottingham ICT and clean tech sectors to become involved in India’s smart cities and skills development initiatives.

The City also announced an initiative of free office space for up to 2 years to Indian businesses that choose Nottingham as a base to commence operations.  This was welcomed by our visitors and has already resulted in 2 or 3 active enquiries.

What was particularly welcomed by me was Dr Paul’s announcement that the High Commission would co-fund a Chair of India Studies at the University of Nottingham.  Initiatives such as this will in my view help promote research between the universities, student and academic exchanges and all of which will help to create more ambassadors both for Nottingham and India


At this point, David Bishop, Chair of the Nottingham India Group, would I am sure say, that the progress has been good, but we must keep the momentum going.


The momentum does continue, with our strategic focus being North India, particularly the cities of Chandigarh and Delhi and the states of Punjab and Haryana.  Nottingham is in advanced conversations with the Chandigarh city administration for a city to city MOU and we are in the process of recruiting our first staff member in India to help in the bridge and ultimately trade, both ways, between Nottingham and India.

I will quote Professor Chris Rudd, Pro VC of the University of Nottingham, who said that “the university is not far away from a time when 70% of our alumni will be based in Asia”. India, therefore, does matter. Moreover, we as business owners, should see it as fortunate that we are around during this period of India’s growth trajectory (7.5% GDP predicted for the coming years) and that the Indian Administration are keen to increase international trade and promote collaborations. We should take advantage.

As businesses you have the opportunity to shape research projects at the university that can draw on the expertise of both universities who are party to the MOU, alternatively if you are a business which is in one of the ‘synergy sectors’ then consider how best your India strategy is placed – do you want to collaborate with an Indian partner (e.g. license to sell each other’s products or develop products) or do you prefer direct entry into this market.


It all starts with a conversation and I would urge you to pick up the phone or email Sam Hopwell (sam.hopwell@nottinghamcity.gov.uk or +44 (0)115 876 946) to discuss opportunities further.

We are also working closely with our partners in the region (if the region benefits then Nottingham benefits) such as UKIBC and the East Midlands Chamber. Both of these organisations bring additional expertise which can help you formulate your India strategy further.

You may be interested to attend a UKIBC, Santander and Chamber round table event on India, click here for further details: http://www.cvent.com/events/access-india-featuring-rt-hon-patricia-hewitt/event-summary-052ef75df1b747b59b71ed76f312bd8d.aspx

I would also invite you to consider joining our Nottingham delegation in October during which we will also participate in the Global SME Business Summit which is being organised by the CII and Ministry for SMEs. Our central focus during this trip in addition to a little sightseeing and shopping will be to connect Nottingham SMEs with Indian SMEs to explore business opportunities and collaborations. I would recommend that the sooner your contact Sam Hopwell (sam.hopwell@nottinghamcity.gov.uk or +44 (0)115 876 946) then the more meaningful and specific we can make your itinerary. Also, places will be limited.

If you are an Indian business who want to explore opportunities in Nottingham further then again please contact Sam Hopwell or Shuchita Sonalika (shuchita.sonalika@cii.in or +44 (0) 7552 181 822).

Finally, as your India Group Chair, I am delighted that the India campaign has support at every level at the City and that this is equally supported by all the key partners, including Nottingham Means Business. This collective effort will result in trade and investment (both ways), collaborations and an increase in tourism.