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The UK and India

Harnessing the power of a shared history to fast-track future growth

Accelerating UK-India investment

The UK and India are two of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic economies. Individually, each presents major opportunities for trade and investment. Combine them, and they’re unbeatable—as underlined by their strong bilateral flows of trade and investment.

But behind the numbers, what really makes the UK-India combination so powerful is the ‘living bridge’ that links the two countries, underpinned by their people’s shared history, culture and democratic values. It’s these common attributes—together with complementary skills and capabilities—that make UK and Indian businesses of all sizes and in all sectors such a natural fit.

As the UK leaves the EU, and India looks to fulfil its massive potential, the opportunities for UK-India business collaboration are growing. Fast. And the story isn’t just about future opportunity. It’s been happening for years—and is continuing to accelerate today—for companies from both countries, as those with existing operations in the other seek out new opportunities, and new entrants take their first steps.

Whether they’ve been doing business bilaterally for years or are just starting out, we’re applying our wealth of experience in the UK and India to help our clients identify and seize the right opportunities. We can help you too. Just call.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official home of the president located at the Western end of Rajpath in New Delhi, India.

UK-India relationship: playing to regional strengths

We believe ‘place’ matters: our UK Good Growth for Cities Report highlights how different regions deliver unique value economically, societally and environmentally.

The UK government mirrors this focus on ‘place’ through devolution deals, local industrial strategies and regional growth agendas. India also recognises the importance of place. Its population of nearly 1.3bn live across 29 different states, each with distinct dialects, cultures, industries and business environments.

An understanding of the role played by regions in both countries opens up significant opportunities between them—both separately and bilaterally.

The UK boasts strengths and diversity across all its regions. According to our UK Economic Outlook, London’s longstanding lead in UK regional growth is driven by services and tourism. Elsewhere—for example—the North West is strong in manufacturing, and the Midlands in innovation and connectivity.

The UK Government is committed to building on these regional strengths. Since announcing the first ‘devolution deal’ through the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in 2014, the Government has invested nearly £400m in the Midlands Engine, and has boosted productivity in the Northern Powerhouse—a region that now exports some £50bn worth of goods across the globe. Government grants also play a key role in boosting regional growth by supporting businesses.

India’s states are similarly diverse in their strengths—and are vast in terms of size. Uttar Pradesh in Northern India has a land area similar to the UK’s, while Karnataka in the South has an economy comparable to Portugal’s. This scale underlines the potential of India’s ‘places’. Our data explorer below gives some deeper insights into the differences between strengths of Indian states.

In recent years, Indian states have made efforts to become more attractive to investors under an approach termed ‘competitive federalism’. Supported by India’s national government, this includes reducing red tape, engaging with foreign investors and opening up specific sectors. The result is clear: between April 2000 and June 2018, investment from the UK to India totalled approximately £20bn, creating 422,524 jobs.

Today, the onus is on the UK’s regions, cities and businesses to understand and realise the diverse opportunities presented by different Indian states and cities. These can be wide-ranging—with many businesses having found that investing in a particular Indian state or city can also lead to substantial supply chain opportunities and open up new markets for their products.

Meanwhile, Indian cities, states and businesses are increasingly seeking partnerships with specific UK cities and regions to drive better research, share technological innovation and leverage the highly skilled UK workforce. We help them do all this through our ‘Invest in GREAT Britain’ partnership with the UK Department for International Trade (DIT). Below, we describe case studies of UK/India collaborations with a strong regional element.  

Knowing your place—in both India and the UK—is crucial to unlocking shared innovation, growth and prosperity between the two countries.

Explore the Indian states

Our interactive data explorer below gives an overview of the economic diversity across the states of India, across a range of  indicators.  

Please click on the states to explore the data

Ease of doing business
Source: Gov.India
Key sectors
Source: Invest.India/PwC
GSDP Growth rate YoY
Source: invest India
Literacy rate
Source: Census estimates
GSDP (Billion$)
Source: Invest india
Per Capita Income USD
Source: Invest india/world
Total state population
Source: Invest India
Literacy rate
(Census) 2016 estimates using 2011 census data

Examples of UK and India collaboration

Helping Sheffield City Region (SCR) Combined Authority collaborate with Pune on advanced manufacturing

A key focus of SCR’s ten-year Trade & Investment Strategy is developing stronger relationships with high growth non-EU markets. Given India’s significant growth potential, SCR has made it a priority to help local businesses work with and operate in India, while also attracting Indian investors and innovators to collaborate with its universities, and attracting more students from India.

To help it achieve these goals, SCR commissioned the UK India Business Council (UKIBC)—a key partner of PwC’s India Business Group—to conduct a location and strategy analysis. This showed that the sectors offering the best fit included advanced manufacturing, automotive, defence, and MedTech, and that the city of Pune in Maharashtra provided strong opportunities for collaboration in advanced manufacturing. SCR is now developing a market entry plan to collaborate with Pune in several areas.

SCR’s experience of working with UKIBC on its strategy for India underlined the importance of making the right connections on the ground, something UKIBC was uniquely qualified to help with. Other lessons learned included the need for a detailed location analysis to pinpoint the strongest complementarities with Indian states, and the benefits of engaging with and involving a variety of institutions, including SCR’s main universities and many businesses.

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UK Autodrive: Drawing on Tata Motors technologies to drive forward innovation in driverless vehicles in the UK

UK Autodrive is an initiative aimed at integrating driverless cars into everyday life in the UK. Launched to support the UK Government’s ambition to see driverless cars on the UK’s roads by 2021, the three-year, £20m project is co-funded by Innovate UK, and brings together 15 partners including three global car manufacturers (OEMs). One of these is Tata Motors, India’s largest automobile manufacturer, whose Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) is a key participant in the project. Other partners include engineering businesses, academia and Milton Keynes and Coventry councils, reflecting the two cities’ acknowledged strengths in high-end automotive technology.


Involving India’s Tata Motors in UK Autodrive meant it benefited from TMETC’s world-renowned research and development capabilities. Working closely with the other two OEMs—Jaguar Land Rover and Ford Motor—Tata Motors’ TMETC was instrumental in the successful testing of the automated vehicles and connected vehicle technologies, and in demonstrating the benefits they can bring. Strong leadership from the host cities was key in setting the context for the demonstrations, and committed buy-in and collaboration among the OEMs were vital to the project’s success. The result was the delivery of a proven driverless vehicle capability, supported by Indian innovation, that is potentially transferable to other locations in the UK and the rest of the world, including India.


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Arif Ahmad

Arif Ahmad

Partner and North Head of Private Business

Tel: +44 (0)7702 009046

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