East meets East at development unit

A TOP-level delegation from the Indian electronics industry visted East Anglia yesterday as part of a week-long UK-wide tour designed to boost trading links.

The party travelled from London for a tour of BT’s Adastral Park research and development site at Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich, before moving on to Cambridge for a visit to Microsoft’s research facility in the city and a round-table discussion with other hi-tech companies followed by a dinner at Sidney Sussex College.

Among the delegates who arrived in the UK on Monday was Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology in the Indian government, although he was recalled to Delhi early and missed yesterday’s penultimate leg of the tour.

Visitors to BT yesterday included Poornima Shenoy, president of the India Semiconductor Association, and representatives from 15 hi-tech companies based or operating in India.

They were welcomed by Phil Dance, BT’s managing director at Adastral Park, before being taken on a guided tour of the facility.

Mr Dance said he was delighted that the East of England had been included the delegation’s itinery. “If you want to see the knowledge economy in the UK, it is between Cambridge and the coast that you need to come,” he said. “It is where the innovation for the next generation of technology is happening.

“It is also a great place to live and work, with affordable housing and good schools.

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“We believe visits like this could be very good for the region,” he added.

Poornima Shenoy said following the tour that the delegates had been highly impressed with what they had seen, particularly in the area of biotechnology, which was of great potential in terms of security measures.

“You also have a lot more trees than London, “ she added. “It is a very beautiful place.”

Was Rahman, an information and communication technology sector specialist with UK Trade & Investment, which organised the delegation’s visit, said the UK was one of the top three counties which the Indian electronics industry was most interested in working with, the others being Japan and Israel.

There was enormous scope for collaboration for British companies interested in doing business in India, such as in the roll-out of the country’s high-speed broadband network, and for potential partners of Indian companies seeking to establish a presence in the UK, said Mr Rahman.

The aim of the visit was to match the right people within organisations, with smaller firms as well as larger ones able to take advantage of the opportunities given the right partnerships, he added.

The Indian delegation’s visit coincided with the launch by UKTI in the East of England of an “East meets East” campaign, which aims to make more companies across the region aware of the range of export opportunities in Asian markets.

Vic Annells, UKTI’s international trade director in the region, said: “Without question our relationship with India is vitally important; whether selling, trading, investing or franchising, India offers opportunities in abundance to UK companies, large or small.

“Here in the East of England there is also great potential for Indian companies, particularly within the ICT sector. I’m delighted that the delegation has seen at first hand the business opportunities within world class organisations like those they met in Ipswich and Cambridge today.

“The rapidly expanding economies in Asia as a whole are providing a demand for local companies to grow and look at new export opportunities. With this in mind UKTI in the East of England is today launching a new campaign ‘East meets East,’ to encourage businesses in the region to consider this rapidly growing market,” he added.