The UK and India have struck a deal on a technology alliance that they hope will result in the generation of thousands of new jobs in both countries. The partnership’s focus will be on developing projects and innovation around the latest technology in the world. Driverless cars, artificial intelligence and virtual reality all seen as core areas the alliance will seek to develop.
The UK will invest £14 million a year into the joint venture, which will see British universities and private enterprises partner with Indian states, the government and private sector. The exchange of personnel, mentoring and collaboration will all be features of the partnership, whose output is expected to be increased tech investment, exports and R&D.
The first stage of the alliance is a £1 million UK investment in a project based in Pune. The cash will go towards developing low emission and driverless vehicles as well as battery storage technology and technology around decreasing the weight of vehicles. Other partnerships that will benefit from initial funding are expected to centre around Bangalore and augmented and virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI).
India has already developed a strong reputation as a rich breeding ground for tech start-ups. A deep pool of potential employees with strong tech skills, lower costs and strong online culture has combined with rising incomes and consumer spending to fuel a fertile ecosystem. The two countries also already have significant cross-pollination in the tech economy. The UK exported digital services worth £358 million to India in 2015 and India also invests heavily in UK tech. Around a third of UK-based employees of Indian companies work in either tech or telecoms. Indian companies are responsible for directly employing over 100,000 people in the UK.
Julian David, chief executive of techUK, the technology industry’s trade body, commented on the announcement of the partnership:
“This is an incredibly important partnership and something tech businesses from both countries have been driving for. The UK and India are leaders in the development and use of digital tech, and there is a huge amount we can learn from each other and big opportunities to join forces in innovation.
“India is also a key strategic partner for the UK with world-class digital skills. Deepening our engagement will open up opportunities for business in both countries and help ensure we maximise the benefits of technology for our societies and citizens.”
Similar cross-border tech partnerships have already proven themselves to be successful for the UK. The UK-Israel Tech Hub has resulted in around £62 million worth of deals over the five years since it began, contributing to the economy as well as stimulating innovation. If the new tech alliance with India has something approaching similar results it will have been a resounding success.