UKIBC & TWI Workshop – UK India Opportunities in Aerospace & Defence and Energy
On 26 May, the UK India Business Council and TWI hosted a workshop to discuss UK-India opportunities in Aerospace & Defence and Energy.
Chris Wiseman, Industry Sector Manager at TWI, begun the session by rightly noting the importance of the strategic relationship between the UK and India, and the emerging and continuing opportunities between both countries. As one of the foremost independent research and technology organisations, TWI’s ambit spans innovation, knowledge transfer and problem resolution across all aspects of welding, joining, surface engineering, inspection, and whole-life integrity management.
The workshop comes at a time where Government engagement has been hugely positive, as UKIBC Group Chair Richard Heald OBE noted in his remarks – most notably the recent virtual dialogue between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi which saw the launch of the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) and a 10-year roadmap leading to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Alluding to the breakout sessions which would follow – one on Aerospace & Defence, the other on Low Carbon Energy – Richard mentioned how pivotal both sectors would be to the bilateral trade and investment relationship, given the Prime Ministers’ announcement and focus on trade, healthcare, climate change and energy sustainability, and defence and security.
With the ambition to double trade between both countries by 2030, in addition to both countries’ commitments to reduce their carbon footprints by the end of the decade, there is real opportunity to develop technologies, collaborations, and business opportunities that will drive our trade forward.
Richard Freeman, Associate Director at TWI, concluded the introductory session by emphasising how far the trade and investment relationship has progressed between the UK and India, having operated in India in the last three decades.
Please see below further details on each breakout session, in addition to the presentations which were made.
Aerospace & defence opportunities in India
Richard McCallum, Vice Chair India, presented a breakout session on ‘opportunities in the aerospace and defence sectors in India’ to members of TWI, together with Richard Freeman (Sector Manager Aerospace) and James Smith (Sector Manager Defence) of TWI.
India is an increasingly meaningful actor in aerospace and defence: India is home to one of the world’s largest active personnel armies and is the 2nd largest defence importer globally. India’s defence budget for 2021, at $65Bn, is almost 50% larger than that of the UK. Over the next 5 years, India’s MOD will spend $130Bn to modernise its forces, half of whose equipment is nearing obsolescence.
The UK was once India’s principal supplier of defence equipment but has in recent years punched considerably under its weight. In 1970 the UK market share in India was 90% – by 2020 it was just 2%. However, in the last couple of years ‘Team UK’ has revised its strategy for India and the signals are now looking good for a revival in Britain’s market share.
The watershed moment was the signing of the MoU on Defence Technology and Industrial Capability Cooperation 2019 – this was the UK’s first ever G2G defence framework and the fact it was signed with India indicates the importance of that market.
More recently, the UK’s recently released Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy contained a ‘Tilt’ to the Indo Pacific Region and put India front and centre. And during the PMs summit earlier this month, defence and security was one of four pillars of cooperation alongside health, trade and investment, and climate change.
In 2020 India partially liberalised its defence industry, raising FDI through the automatic route but is also pursuing an indigenisation strategy which means foreign firms increasingly have to be in India to make the most of the market. We don’t foresee major acquisitions happening off the shelf in the future.
The fact that the UK is now willing to share IP, to co-create and co-develop in India means the UK now has a unique proposition and opportunity with India.
Low carbon energy opportunities in india
The Energy session was led by Prasenjit Dhar and Jonathan Ursell of UKIBC, and Steve Dodds and Sullivan Smith of TWI. Prasenjit and Jon first shared their insights on the sector and the nuances relative to India, and how the UKIBC can support businesses to enter and expand in India. On the energy pillar of the 2030 roadmap specifically, renewable energy, waste to energy, and e-mobility will be key areas for development and hold great opportunity for trade, investment, and collaboration.
The UKIBC recently launched our Energy Transition and Climate Economy Group, focussed on mutual wins at policy and commercial levels across the UK and India and influence the bilateral engagement. Focus areas for the group include: regulatory and policy engagement; renewables and cleaner energy as well as focus on efficiency improvement, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, energy storage. There is also an opportunity of working with businesses in areas including technology provision, R&D, training and green financing.
Steve and Sullivan then provided a detailed overview of the technical expertise and innovation that TWI can provide to companies working in the sector. In particular, TWI can help to meet their targets on cost, timelines, materials, processes, and impact. In the case of EV for example, that would mean helping companies to take on board consumer demands, such as driving range, performance, safety, and cost, and policy. Steve then shared details on TWI’s newly developed technology – CoreFlow, a sub-surface machining technology for metallic components. Networks can be incorporated inside plates or tubular structures for fluid flow. He explained how TWI is working across various energy sectors with different companies across the globe.
With regard to helping businesses in the UK-India corridor, the speakers from TWI and UKIBC discussed how their two organisations can work together to support businesses across both countries access commercial opportunities and technologies in each-others markets.
Many thanks to our brilliant speakers for sharing their time and resources in our workshop. We look forward to continuing these discussions over the coming months to maximise the opportunities for the UK and India in these areas.