A new West Midlands-India Partnership (WMIP) launched on Friday (26) to enhance UK-India relations with a special focus on tourism, trade and investment in the region.

The partnership, led by the West Midlands Growth Company, will support the region’s long-term economic growth plans as part of a five-year programme of activity with the Indian market. Invest India, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Consulate General of Birmingham office are partners in this initiative.

The region is already home to the biggest Indian community outside of London with more than 200,000 people of Indian origin living in the region.

Industry heavyweights such as Jaguar Land Rover, PwC, State Bank of India UK, Birmingham City University and DLA Piper are other partners.

Dr. Jason Wouhra OBE, Chair of the West Midlands India Partnership, said: “The West Midlands India Partnership is a confident step forward at a time when building resilient, productive economies is key. Through the Partnership’s long-term strategy, we aim to identify opportunities for both Indian and local businesses to trade, innovate and grow.

“By strengthening networks, collaboration in academia and airline connectivity, we want to build on our shared history to forge new opportunities for a confident future. As the former co-owner and director of East End Foods plc – a globally trading, West Midlands success story, I want to encourage Indian-owned businesses to follow in my steps and capitalise on this region’s potential.“

The partnership will build on India’s strong track record of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the West Midlands. After the US, it is the leading source of FDI and FDI employment in the West Midlands – over the last 10 years, 13,000 new jobs have been created.

The region has attracted entities including Tata Motors, State Bank of India, Infosys, OLA, Enzen Global, Suprajit Group, Elder Pharmaceuticals and more recently, Microland.

Dr. Aman Puri, Consul General of India, Birmingham, said: “This initiative offers both British and Indian companies a fantastic new platform to collaborate on a wide range of established and emerging technologies. For SMEs in particular, it presents a real opportunity to develop more connected supply chains and scale through new commercial partnerships.

The region welcomed more than 38,000 visitors from India in 2018 and has seen a 16 per cent increase in leisure visits in the last five years. Meanwhile, West Midlands universities have seen a 33 per cent increase in their Indian student intake over the same period.

“The West Midlands is a melting pot of cultures, diversity and business excellence – the region is important for Indian industry as a hub of innovation and research,” said Lakshmi Kaul, Head & Representative – UK at Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“The CII is pleased to support the West Midlands by working alongside the Partnership to amplify business-to-business, as well as the people-to-people connection, while also addressing the economic growth and recovery roadmap.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: ““The West Midlands India Partnership will bring together some of the best talent and capabilities to not only stimulate cross-market trade, but to help address shared social and economic challenges faced by the UK and India. I am delighted we have been able to secure this Partnership, which represents a further strengthening of the already excellent ties between our region and India.”

The Partnership will support Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Tourism, Trade and Investment programme designed to maximise the economic benefits of the global event. It will feature in-market activity linked to Games-focused events such as the Queen’s Baton Relay.