West Midlands showcased to Indian industry heavyweights

Regional commitment to UK-India relations shown with senior Indian industry leaders.

The West Midlands’ leading role in forging a new era of UK-India trade and investment relations was debuted among some of India’s most influential business leaders at an exclusive virtual event.

Hosted by the West Midlands India Partnership, the event brought together fifteen CEOs from some of India’s biggest businesses to showcase the region’s ambitious plans for closer collaboration across industry and culture.

The session took place as part of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s annual CEO mission to the UK, focused on strengthening bilateral links between the two nations. This is the first time that the West Midlands has been involved in the mission, which is this year being held by videoconference in line with current guidelines around COVID-19.

CII President Uday Kotak is leading the delegation, with senior representatives from Tata Chemicals Ltd., Piramal Enterprises and Mahindra Group among those taking part.

During the regional session, delegates heard from senior local spokespeople about what the West Midlands has to offer Indian markets, including WMIP Chair and former co-owner and director of East End Foods Dr Jason Wouhra OBE; Cllr Bob Sleigh, Deputy Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority; and Margot James, Executive Chair of WMG at the University of Warwick. WMIP executive board members were also in attendance to discuss key topics around the UK-India economic landscape with the delegation.

Dr Jason Wouhra OBE, Chair of the West Midlands India Partnership, said: “The West Midlands and India are bound by a long and shared history spanning culture and industry. This puts our region in prime position to lead the next generation of the UK-India relationship.

“The West Midlands India Partnership gives us a clear pathway to build on the strength of these ties and create mutual cultural and economic prosperity. Directly engaging in conversation with the CII and its members has given us the unique opportunity to demonstrate our region’s thirst for collaboration. This is such a critical time for international co-operation, and our participation in the CEO mission demonstrates the high-value opportunities the Partnership seeks to create more of.”

Launched in June 2020, WMIP is a five-year programme developed in partnership by the West Midlands Growth Company*, CII, the Consulate General of India in Birmingham, and others. Its aim is to boost tourism, trade and investment between the region and India.

The Partnership builds on India’s strong track record of foreign direct investment in the West Midlands, with the country ranking as one of the region’s leading sources of international investment in the last decade.

Uday Kotak, President of the Confederation of Indian Industry and Managing Director & CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited, said: “The West Midlands’ potential lies not only its established industry expertise, but also in its culture of innovation, community and openness. This is evident in the vast number of Indian businesses currently thriving in the region.

“The Confederation of Indian Industry will continue to support the region in its mission to deepen its connections with India. We are confident that the Partnership can deliver real, tangible benefits for Indian entrepreneurs already located in the West Midlands, and for those that are yet to discover the region.”

A range of well-known Indian companies have chosen to set up in the West Midlands to date, including State Bank of India, Infosys and Tata Motors, which has successfully established an academic partnership with WMG at the University of Warwick to advance automotive innovation since investing in the region.

Margot James, Executive Chair of WMG at the University of Warwick, said: “At WMG we have a proud history of collaboration with companies at the leading edge of manufacturing and innovation in India.

“Partnerships between Indian business and companies and universities in the West Midlands have huge growth potential. The West Midlands Industrial Strategy has identified strengths and opportunities in emerging industries in which India already has considerable expertise – the possibilities for future partnerships are very promising and I am delighted to support the West Midlands India Partnership.”

In addition to trade and investment, the Partnership is also focused on enhancing engagement with the region’s 200,000-strong diaspora. Opportunities surrounding cultural events unique to the West Midlands are currently being explored, such as the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Find out more about the West Midlands India Partnership or sign up as a partner, here.