Technology collaboration key to the UK-India partnership at UK India Business Council Technology Conference

By Kealan Finnegan

The UK India Business Council hosted a technology focused conference in New Delhi to bring together eminent leaders and experts from government, industry and academia to forge greater technology collaboration and ties. Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Prof. Ajay Kumar Sood delivered the keynote address at the ‘Technology transformation and new frontiers for collaboration’ conference to an audience of UK and Indian senior business leaders and stakeholders.

In a fireside conversation with UKIBC Group CEO Richard McCallum, PSA Prof. Ajay K. Sood said, “India has witnessed unprecedented growth in IT, Space tech, Defence, digital public goods, and many areas. To continue on this path of tech transformation, we need a forward-looking strategy.” Prof. Sood spoke of the development of emerging technologies taking place in India – such as A.I., quantum, blockchain, IoT. He said digitalisation and skill development are core to India’s development agenda.

The UKIBC has supported more than 700 businesses in both countries to grow trade, investment and collaboration. It sees technology collaboration as a fundamental cornerstone for collaboration in key areas such as renewable technologies, future mobility, defence, education, financial services, and telecommunications. UKIBC Group CEO Richard McCallum said: “At UKIBC, we see the future UK-India relationship and indeed our countries’ relationships with the rest of the world being infused by technology collaboration. As each country helps the other solve local as well global, shared challenges.”

India and the UK recently signed a research and innovation agreement in April earlier this year, which aims to enable quicker, deeper collaboration on science, providing a strong framework for science and technology collaboration.

The conference audience heard from Joint Secretary, DPIIT, Shri Balamurugan D; Minister and Deputy High Commissioner to India at the British High Commission in India, Christina Scott; and Senior Adviser to Group Chairman, HSBC, Lord Udny-Lister.

Shri Balamurugan D, Joint Secretary, DPIIT, said: “India holds boundless opportunities for trade, investment, and growth. The average age of our population is 29, promising a vibrant future. India is moving in the path of inclusive growth and invite global collaboration.”

Two industry focussed sessions discussed ‘technology innovations turbocharging India’s vision for an inclusive society’ and ‘leveraging public private collaborations on research and innovation’. Businesses and think tanks including Vodafone, Mahindra Group, Tata Elxsi, OMI Foundation, NIPFP, and Royal Society of Chemistry discussed the importance of research and innovation, including academic cooperation between the UK and India, green technologies and technology for social good, as well as other key areas of cooperation.

The conference was supported by HSBC and Vodafone. Both companies have a significant presence in India and the UK and are contributing to the development and roll out of technology solutions to the benefit of both populations.

P Balaji, Chief Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Officer, Vodafone said: “Technology is indeed transformative. And this fact has been brought to the fore in the recent digital revolution by changing consumer behaviour and ways of working. Catalysed by transformative Government policies, Vodafone Idea too, has made a definitive shift and telecom infrastructure will be a critical facilitator and human capital an essential enabler.”

The UK’s tech sector became just the third country sector to reach USD 1 trillion in value milestone in 2022 and UK start-ups, universities and global corps are regarded among the world’s best. India, too, is well regarded among global peers for its strong technology presence, including among its 100 ‘unicorns’ (start-ups with a value of greater than USD 1 billion) – making it the 3rd largest start-up ecosystem globally.

The conference closed with the UKIBC committing its ongoing efforts towards greater industry collaboration and support for both governments to help India and the UK to maximise the technological expertise and innovation within the bilateral partnership.

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