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Updated: October 28, 2012 15:58 IST

U.K. companies seek Indian partners in ICT

Special Correspondent
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Exploring possibilities: James Bryce, Deputy Director, U.K. Trade and Investment, India (left), and Jonathan Harding, Chief Operating Officer, at a session organised by the British Deputy High Commission in Bangalore on Saturday. Photo: K. Gopinathan.
The Hindu Exploring possibilities: James Bryce, Deputy Director, U.K. Trade and Investment, India (left), and Jonathan Harding, Chief Operating Officer, at a session organised by the British Deputy High Commission in Bangalore on Saturday. Photo: K. Gopinathan.

A clutch of British companies was in Bangalore during the weekend to explore opportunities for investments in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. About a dozen small companies from the U.K. were part of the mission, which was organised by the British Deputy High Commission in Bangalore.

Jonathan Harding, Chief Operating Officer of the U.K. Trade and Investment (UKTI), which facilitates investors in that country, told The Hindu that the mission aims to place ties between Indian and U.K.-based companies “at the next level”.

Although Indian IT services companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro and many others have been present in the U.K. for several years, and the U.K.-based ICT firms have been active in India, companies in either country have been targeting markets in the other.

While Indian companies in the U.K. have been mostly in the services space, British companies have been more focussed on technology, like those from the cluster in Cambridge, which specialises in cutting edge technologies in the ICT space.

“Traditionally, British companies in the ICT space have concentrated on expanding their reach to the Indian market, or to use India as an outsourcing base,” Mr. Harding explained. “But now, we are focussing on partnerships between companies in the two countries, which will enable them to participate not only in both markets but reach out to global markets,” he added. Soumitra Sharma of IDG Ventures, a venture capital fund based in the Silicon Valley, identified rapidly growing digital consumption, a vibrant enterprise software segment and diverse engineering capability as the three key drivers of the Indian ICT industry.

He urged British companies to “contextualise” solutions to Indian problems such as the need to spread literacy and healthcare in a manner that would be cost-effective. “The advantage is that such solutions can then be deployed in other emerging markets that have similar characteristics,” Mr. Sharma said. Among the companies was Hildebrand Technology Ltd., which uses software to capture and analyse data on smart grids. The technology is being used by companies such as IBM in one of its product lines, said Joshua Abner Cooper, CEO of the company.

Another company, Redwood Technologies, specialises in developing large scale communications systems used in large organisations. John Rees, Director of the company, said its communications integration platform can be deployed by Business Process Outsourcing companies in order to increase their efficiency.

Indian BPOs, which had lost out to BPOs in countries such as the Philippines because of rising wage costs in India in recent years, can recover lost ground by using such technologies, he said.

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