The UK and India have a long history of shared cultural and business links. As we continue to tackle the impacts of coronavirus and start to look towards driving a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery, there has never been a more important time for global ecosystems to work together.
There is a living bridge that exists between India and the UK, formed by over 1.5 million Indians living in the UK. Now more than ever, both India and the UK are focused on forging even deeper relationships. This month, the UK and Indian governments announced new trade and investment deals worth £1 billion, creating thousands of new jobs in both countries and paving the way for a future UK-Free Trade Agreement.
India and the UK also share common values of innovation and entrepreneurial and mutual strengths in technology. The increased pace of digitization during the pandemic and the innovation demonstrated by tech companies around the world has meant that the UK’s tech sector has remained resilient. London-based tech firms attracted a near-record $10.6bn in VC investment last year, more than any other European city. This makes London an attractive destination for scaling Indian tech companies considering international expansion.
The UK is also home to many of India’s largest IT and technology firms, several of which have recently increased their commitments to the UK capital. Tata Consultancy Services will bring 1,500 high-skilled jobs to the UK, while 1,000 new UK jobs in health and tech firms Infosys, HCL Technologies and Mphasis will be created. Indian IT Services multi-national company, Wipro will also invest £16 million over the next four years to set up a 20,000 sq. ft. innovation centre in London, serving as Wipro’s flagship center in the UK and offering technology expertise to companies globally.
In the UK, London has emerged as a leading destination for Indian foreign direct investment into Europe. It is the second most popular city in the world for Indian companies looking to expand internationally based on the number of projects and in 2020 it was the leading European city for investments into high growth tech sectors like fintech, AI, health tech and edtech.
Companies are going in both directions too.London tech companies are increasingly choosing India for their international expansion plans as Indian tech hubs like Bengaluru and Mumbai attract London-based scale ups looking to access the Asian market. In fact, London and Bengaluru were the two fastest growing tech ecosystems for VC investment in the world between 2016 and 2020, demonstrating increasing opportunities for trade and investment across both regions.
In London, Indian IT firms can access everything they need to grow and scale. As one of the world’s leading financial centres, companies have access to high levels of growth capital. London is also home to policy makers,world-class universities and talent, customers and a diverse cultural diaspora – all in one city. London has all the ingredients for companies to grow fast, evident in its number of unicorn companies — 43 unicorns and 81 future unicorns — making it the unicorn capital of Europe.
Access to investment is a major draw for Indian tech companies in the UK. The future looks bright too as London VC firms have record levels of fresh capital to deploy in 2021 – they raised $7.8 billion in new funds in 2020, on top of the $4 billion raised in 2019 – accounting for a third of all new European VC funds over the past two years.
The recently released India meets Britain tracker 2021 also shows the increasing number of Indian companies in the UK. There are currently 850 Indian companies in the UK with a total turnover of £50.8 billion, up from 2020 figures. Collectively these companies employ 116,046 people. Tech and telecoms dominate this tracker, making up 41% of the fastest growing Indian companies in the UK. Many of these fast-growing Indian companies are based in London, with over 50% choosing the UK capital for their international office.
Over the next few years, I am confident that the collaboration between India and the UK will go from strength-to-strength and the bridge between our two regions will continue to grow. We look forward to helping many more Indian businesses and entrepreneurs grow their business in the UK capital and beyond.
(The author Hemin Bharucha, Chief Representative India, London & Partners and the views expressed by the article are his own)