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UK woos Indian startups with Tech Rocketships award

The belief is technology can now create the next level of opportunities and the UK and India have the synergies to make it happen.

, ET Online|
Updated: Jun 23, 2016, 04.35 PM IST
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The belief is technology can now create the next level of opportunities and the UK and India have the synergies to make it happen.
The belief is technology can now create the next level of opportunities and the UK and India have the synergies to make it happen.
Silicon Valley leads in its capacity to attract startups and entrepreneurs, but the UK is increasingly looking to grab a share of India's startup growth story.

According to UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) investment from India had increased by 65% in 2015, making India UK's third largest source of FDI. By 2015 Indian firms had increased their investment in the UK by forming 122 investment projects creating 7,730 new jobs and safeguarding 1,620 jobs in the UK. But, these figures are largely bolstered by likes of Tata, Wipro and Infosys and the UK is now keen to change the mix by adding a generous sprinkling of startups.

"Firms like Infosys and Wipro have invested significant amount of money and created jobs in the UK. That system has worked and there is clearly something attractive that allows companies to use the UK as a springboard," says UKTI India, Deputy Director, Amo Kalar.

Of late the country has found a sweet spot especially in sectors like Fintech. Technology has transformed areas like Old Street and King's Cross as new hubs of innovation and business. Fintech alone employs more than 40,000 people and according to a report by Accenture titled 'The Future Of Fintech and Banking', investment in technology in the UK and Ireland rose from $264m (£176m, €239m) in 2013 to $623m in 2014. Unicorns like London-based fintech companies -- Funding Circle and TransferWise - are now leading that charge.

The belief is technology can now create the next level of opportunities and the UK and India have the synergies to make it happen. In its third year, Tech Rocketship Awards, an initiative by UKTI, wants to provide top Indian young entrepreneurs with expert business advice and support to help them go global through the UK. The competition opened for applications on April 11 at a launch by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Mumbai.

"This is the third year of Tech Rocketship, but we have turbo-charged it. The Royal couple is very interested in technology and entrepreneurship and we have this year given the event the Royal stamp of approval. We got in a range of partners to make the competition relevant to the very audience we wanted to engage. The final bit is about access to capital and simultaneously to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge launching Tech Rocketship, we had startups pitching to the first ever UK Venture Capital Mission," says kalar, Fintech may be hot in the startup space, the competition, however, will crown one deserving startup from Cleantech, Edtech, Fintech, Medtech and Smart Manufacturing sector and have further five winners selected in the Judges Award category from across all sectors. The competition is open to entrepreneurs operating a company created in the year 2000 or onwards.

Forging partnerships:
To get the right mix of startups UKTI has this year partnered with the Indian Angel Network (IAN). "We have launched IAN in the UK and operational since 2014. It took us time to understand the ecosystem, but we have started investing in startups in the UK. This allows the Make in India model to go global and creates a footprint that is very interesting for both countries. The UK has some excellent innovation, but it is limited by the size of the market. We as a country have not invested much on innovation, but the reality is we are a sixth of the world's population and a growing market. There is a lot of complimentary aspects between UK and India and we can surely identify innovative startups to build cross-border or global companies," says IAN, President, Padmaja Ruparel.

Ruparel adds that there are lots of startups in India which now have applicability not just in the UK or in Europe, but also globally. "Both countries have a lot of commonalties, so the affinity is faster. India now has a lot of startups with global ambition and an overseas exposure of this kind will help," she adds.

"One objective of the programme is to link UK with Indian entrepreneurs and angel investing community and I think we are doing that successfully. The second aspect is that we want real businesses that are going to land in UK to be able to use all that UK has to offer. The startup we identify may be small now, but at some stage would want to internationalize their business," says Kalar.

Kalar adds he is personally very excited about the Fintech space as there is a lot going on in that space. Barclays Plc and other British commercial banks are bullish about the sector. Recently the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney announced it was launching an accelerator to work with fintech startups.
Another area that is hot for startups is the Medtech space. With the UK health care market opening up, particularly in the technology space, Kalar says there is a potential for startups to play a much greater role.

Competition from the Valley:
Kalar says comparison is always made between UK's technology hotspots and the Silicon Valley. "There is no doubt that Silicon Valley has bigger technology companies and competing on scale would be difficult for us. However, we can compete on other things. In fact a lot of companies I talk to position themselves in the UK because it is easy to setup a company, simple taxes and technology and digital skills are in good supply in the UK. The UK is also a good place to access both the US and the European markets, without actually being there," says Kalar.

India has big strategic investments in the UK and Kalar says the government will always support them. "However, the big opportunity lies sharing technologies and startups. We want to be in that space and be a part of the growth story. This is where our future focus would be," he adds.

The applications for competition are open till June 30. Applicants can find the details on Tech Rocketship Awards website

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