Over the next five years, some 400m people are expected to move into towns and cities in India. This presents major challenges but also huge opportunities.
A central part is being played by the Government of India’s 100 Smart Cities programme which aims to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local area development and harnessing technology that helps facilitate a better quality of life, through transforming existing areas including slums, into better planned ones, and developing greenfield areas in order to accommodate the expanding population.
It is a bold and far-reaching programme, particularly for a nation whose large urban areas struggle with maintaining 24/7 power, clean and readily available water, and proper sanitation. Around 20 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India, with air quality impacted by a mix of different emissions – fossil fuel burning power plants, heavy industries, construction, agricultural burning and urban traffic.
Focus on smart cities and enriching urban environments
Innovate UK's Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP), delivered by EEN, is taking 15 innovative SMEs whose technologies help to build sustainable and resilient cities and which enhance the quality of life on a five day visit to Indore and Bengaluru. The companies will be accompanied by representatives from Innovate UK and Newable.
The aim of the GBIP is to help companies gain a better understanding and opportunities of doing business in India in this important area. They will have the opportunity to meet businesses, innovation hubs, academic institutions and other stakeholders to gain valuable market knowledge and industry insights. And they have the opportunity to meet potential collaboration partners.
In recent years, the UK has built a strong relationship with India around future cities. One example is the Innovating for Clean Air (IfCA) programme, led by Innovate UK and delivered by Energy Systems Catapult, Connected Places Catapult and Satellite Applications Catapult, which supports UK and Indian innovators in Bengaluru to promote best practice innovation and technology exchange around air quality solutions. It is financed by the Newton Fund with matched resources from various partners in Karnataka and India.
The UK has made a commitment to supporting India’s 100 Smart Cities programme, specifically including the work in Indore. Situated in the Madhya Pradesh region, which is actively looking for smart city solutions and currently running projects focused on urbanising areas in and around its main cities, Indore is ranked as India’s cleanest city.
There are several areas of focus for this GBIP, including:
City management and operations systems, including urban planning and city system integration solutions
Smart infrastructure e.g water, waste, energy, mobility
Enriched urban environments e.g recreation, community, education, green/blue resources rehabilitation and enhancement, urban health solutions, public safety and security, air quality, pollution management
More than just a visit to two cities
The visit is just one element of the GBIP. Participants will receive bespoke one-to-one support from EEN advisers to help them exploit the opportunity before, during and after the visit as part of the full programme.
Prior to the visit, the participant companies are briefed by sector and market experts and hear first-hand from previous delegates about their experiences. advice on how to do business in India and training on how to improve their pitch, articulate their value proposition and protect their IP. They are advised on the cultural aspects of conducting business in India. This “getting ready for market” phase ensures that businesses understand the Indian market, how to operate in it, and receive help to find partners and arrange meetings in advance.
The market visit provides exclusive access to the Indian market and the opportunity to meet key companies and research organisations. Targeted, pre-arranged meetings take place at organised match-making events.
Specialist one-to-one support is provided after the visit to help participants follow up and take advantage of the identified opportunities. Innovate UK and EEN will organise and fund flights, hotel accommodation and in-country logistics.