Stronger together - Manchester and India Diwali Celebration

Jo Ahmed, partner at Deloitte and board member of the Manchester India Partnership, discusses the strength of the relationship between Manchester and India, and the influence of the Manchester India Partnership in laying the foundations for growth.

In many ways, Manchester and India have been natural and ideal collaborators – from a shared focus on digital innovation to a mutual love of sport. We have a shared history, with more than 200,000 people of Indian origin currently living in Greater Manchester, and this connection was recognised last year with the unveiling of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside the city’s cathedral.

At our latest digital Diwali event, we asked our viewers what one thing would best characterise the relationship between Manchester and India – 41 per cent identified collaboration and innovation, while a further 27 per cent suggested the business opportunities.

This is best highlighted by the great strides made in strengthening our business relationships. In 2018, the Manchester India Partnership (MIP) was established to nurture and grow these links, with the ultimate objective of creating economic growth on both sides.

As a board member on the MIP, I am proud to see the outstanding growth achieved in recent years. Since inception, 15 different Indian businesses have invested in Manchester, creating a further 800 jobs, while partnerships have been created in area such as healthcare and drug development between our universities and those in India. With India’s strength in digital and technology, we have also seen a number of Indian companies, including Tech Mahindra, join the tech cluster in MediaCityUK. This underlines the region’s position as the 2nd most attractive city in the UK for tech investment and as a leading player in digitalisation.

This increased collaboration has resulted in record numbers – for the first time, the total value of trade between the North West and India surpassed £1bn in 2019.

Most significantly for future collaboration between our two communities, Manchester will soon have direct flights to both Mumbai and Delhi. The launch, announced by Virgin Atlantic last month, is testament to the work of the Manchester India Partnership, and clearly illustrates the demand for travel from Manchester to India.

Connectivity has been identified as a crucial decider for many Indian companies when it comes to moving to the UK already, and this direct link may prove pivotal in many more businesses taking that step.

In the current uncertain environment, setting ourselves up for future success is paramount, and the strengthening of ties between Manchester and India will enable us to build on current relationships and get our recovery off to a strong start.

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