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Getting technical in India

As the spotlight of the Olympic and Paralympic games leaves London, we are determined to help British firms make the most of global business opportunities. Over the last month, the world has focused on London and as the attention fades, we need to make sure businesses don't lose momentum in global markets.

For manufacturers, India holds huge potential and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is supporting businesses to make the most of trade opportunities here. India is the world's second fastest growing economy, and is far too big a market to be ignored by companies seeking international expansion. Mumbai and New Delhi continue to be the biggest trading hubs in the Indian economy, but emerging cities such as Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai are on the up.

Though there are several Government owned public sector units (PSUs) in the manufacturing sector, most of the key Indian manufacturing players are in the private sector. And while PSUs mostly procure through tenders, private companies welcome direct approaches from the suppliers.

UKTI London is supporting a trade mission to India at the end of November. Organised by the London Chamber of Commerce, the mission will give companies the opportunity to explore business prospects in India and form relationships with key local contacts. UKTI London also run an India Marketing Scholarship Programme. This equips small and mid-sized businesses with the tools to market their products in India, helping them develop effective marketing strategies that enable long-term trading relationships.

Surrey based firm Conversor conceived a new product after attending the programme last year. They design a range of assistive listening devices for the hearing impaired. The Indian Government purchased their products in 2011 for use in Deaf schools. Following this success, Conversor wanted to launch to the India private sector and won a place on the UKTI India Marketing Scholarship Programme.

Jeremy Brassington, Managing Director of Conversor said: "The course provided a valuable insight into product and marketing strategies in the Indian market and started us on the road to designing a product specifically for the Indian market. The Indian Government subsequently requested a product for pupils to use out of school which was cost effective and provided a subset of the functionality of our principal product. The Listenor Pro design was conceived following the course and will be launched in January 2013. It has application in all our markets at a price point which is highly competitive and provides us with a lower cost entry product for developing markets. It has the potential to double the size of our business in the next two to three years.

"The course also provided the opportunity to meet and interact with senior executives of other SME businesses with an interest of developing their operations in India. We were able to forge a relationship with one of our co-attendees, Sound Decisions, who provide on-site FM radio broadcast and equipment for sporting events. They provided the in-stadium broadcast for the 2012 Olympics and Conversor supplied Sound Decisions with Inductive Neck loops for use with their radios by hearing aid wearers at the Games."

Green energy solutions
Another firm that has had success in Indian markets is Better Generation. Based in East London's Tech City, this high growth, early stage company provide hardware and software to make it easier for people to adopt small to mid-scale green energy solutions. HSBC estimate that India's market for low carbon energy solutions will grow to about USD135 billion in 2020, equivalent to about 3.3 per cent of GDP. And India's Bureau of Energy Efficiency recently launched a scheme aimed to improve energy efficiency of the Indian Industry.

Clean and energy efficient products are clearly in demand and this is something that Better Generation have tapped into, with recent success in the Indian markets. Better Generation's unique product - the Power Predictor, helps clients, at a very low cost, determine how much and what type of natural energy resource is present at a specific site, and what technologies or products provide the best return on investment to generate energy. With help from UK Trade & Investment, they signed up more than 25 partners across Asia and the Americas, including a major OEM partnership in India worth in excess of US $250K over the next 12 months.

The UK already has strong ties with India so we are well positioned to take advantage of the investment and export market and as these companies show, UK manufactured products are having  great success there. Here are some top tips on exporting to India, from UKTI London's International Trade Adviser for India, Carl Woolf:

Support available?

  • Apart from UKTI, consider contacting UK India Business Council which has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in this market
  • British Expertise - the leading UK private sector organisation for British companies offering professional services internationally. British Expertise (you'll find them at introduces members to key British and international contacts, identify potential partners and clients, and offer market intelligence and training.
  • Your local Chamber of Commerce. We are running a joint trade mission to India with the London Chamber in November. This offers a great supportive environment in which to visit and research a market.

Market research
How long is a piece of string? The more the better, you can never do enough research. Two UKTI services are in place to support your own research Overseas Market Introduction Service and Export Marketing Research Scheme. (add links)

  • Identifying suitable and appropriate partners is a challenge. There are a lot of middle-men and agents.
  • There isn't a treaty in place on taxes so double taxation can be an issue. Always seek legal advice.
  • There is a lot of red-tape which can be a challenge - it can take years to get through a legal dispute for example.

Top tips - advice to companies
  • Recognise things take much longer than in the UK; even written agreements are subject to change. Don't assume anything is set in stone.
  • Make use of all the help and advice available to you from organisations such as UKTI. Work with a local international trade adviser who can offer strategic advice and access to the vast UKTI network.
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