Virtual trade mission to India a success for Sheffield City Region SMEs

By Kealan Finnegan

The Sheffield City Region in the north of England and Pune in the State of Maharashtra have continued to build on their growing relationship through a virtual trade mission organised by the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) in partnership with the Sheffield City Region (SCR).

Beginning on 12th February 2021, and running until early April, the virtual trade mission saw 7 SMEs from the Sheffield City Region meet with over 50 companies based in Pune to engage on prospective partnerships, trading opportunities and business development. The mission saw 5 NDAs signed and more than 20 advanced discussions between the SCR and Pune companies to further discuss their proposals and partnerships beyond initial meetings.

Among the companies based in Pune were Larsen & Toubro, Siemens, International Aerospace Manufacturing, Praj Industries, and Arup.

The SCR is recognised worldwide for its expertise in high precision engineering, metals and alloy production and high-quality design and manufacturing of products for a wide range of global industries.

UKIBC Managing Director, Kevin McCole said: “It is no surprise that the India Growth Champions mission to India has generated so much positivity, both in the UK and in India. The Sheffield City Region, home to some of the UK’s most innovative businesses has a huge amount to offer India and, in particular, Pune, given the industrial complementarities between the two regions. The team and I are really looking forward to continuing to support the Growth Champions on their India journey, and hope that we will soon be able to visit on a mission later this year.”

SCR International Advisor to the Mayor, Sir Nigel Knowles said: “This was a hugely successful virtual trade mission, which has been of great value to the South Yorkshire businesses which took part.  This is just the start of establishing some really positive relationships, which should lead to strong partnerships being built between businesses from our region and India, for mutual benefit.  We look forward to seeing these relationships develop over the coming months.”

The “India Growth Champions” are SMEs based in the SCR selected to receive support to build business links with India. Each company received 10 funded days of dedicated support, alongside the development of an India business plan, workshops and business mentoring. Subsequently, the IGCs took part in the virtual trade mission.

Craig Langley, Donasonic, which offers a range of recycling solutions for a range of waste materials said: “(On the virtual trade mission) there was a big push from the Indian participants to educate us and to develop the market which has been really beneficial and gave us a great insight into the market.”

Thomas Harrison, Kingkraft, which provides specialist equipment for people with disabilities, said: “With our market being quite niche, it has been hugely helpful to have Sheffield City Region and UKIBC to find partners and the discussions we have subsequently had have been productive. We are very much looking forward to progressing that in the future and extend our thanks to all involved.”

Frank Wilkes, Kycker, a digital music publishing business: “We really appreciate the work of the India Growth Champions Scheme, which has been a great asset to us. The information we received on the Indian market has been phenomenally good and led to success with prospective partners in our discussions at the virtual trade mission.”

Kat Paciorek, Macalloy, a manufacturer of tensioning bars, tie rods and cable systems,: “Thank you to SCR and UKIBC for taking us on board and joining this mission, it has been an interesting journey to exchange experience and knowledge and valuable discussions and webinars. We have had fruitful discussions on the mission and will continue to engage with a great list of prospects that we are extremely thankful for.”

David Latimer, Magnomatics, a magnetic gear technology company: “It has been a really great experience for us and looking forward to meeting our prospective partners face to face when possible.”

Stuart Wesley, Robson Handling, a materials-handling provider: “Our experience on the India Growth Champions Programme has been wholly positive and has helped us to set up productive meetings on the virtual trade mission, with a good range of customers and consultant, and suppliers and manufacturing partners.”

Stuart Green, Zoo Digital, a provider of cloud-based dubbing, subtitling, localisation and distribution services: “The IGC programme provided an opportunity to speak to organisations with which we can partner in India. It has been incredibly valuable exercise.”

The India Growth Champions Scheme is a joint venture between Sheffield City Region and the UKIBC, launched in 2020. The scheme supports several South Yorkshire companies that were looking to build business links with India. In 2017, the Sheffield City Region introduced the strategy: ‘Make in India, Design and Develop with the Sheffield City Region’. Since then, the relationship between the Sheffield City Region and India has grown and developed and has been able to open up greater trading opportunities.


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