A virtual trade mission, which was organised by the UK India Business Council in partnership with the Sheffield City Region (SCR) LEP, involving South Yorkshire businesses and companies in Pune in the state of Maharashtra, India, has been hailed a huge success.

The trade mission ran for six weeks and involved SMEs which are part of the India Growth Champion Scheme, meeting with 50 companies from India to discuss trading and business development opportunities, as well as forming partnerships for mutual benefit.

UKIBC Managing Director, Kevin McCole said: “It is no surprise that the India Growth Champion’s mission to India has generated so much positivity, both in the UK and in India. The Sheffield City Region, home to some of the UK’s most innovative businesses has a huge amount to offer India and, in particular, Pune given the industrial complementarities between the two regions. The team and I are really looking forward to continuing to support the Growth Champions on their India journey and hope that we will soon be able to actually visit India later this year.”

SCR International Advisor to the Mayor, Sir Nigel Knowles said: “This was a hugely successful virtual trade mission, which has been of great value to the South Yorkshire businesses which took part.  This is just the start of establishing some really positive relationships, which should lead to strong partnerships being built between businesses from our region and India, for mutual benefit.”

The India Growth Champions are SMEs based in the South Yorkshire region which applied to receive support to build business links with India. Each company received 10 funded days of dedicated support, alongside the development of an India business plan, workshops and business mentoring, plus virtual and hopefully an actual trade mission.

Thomas Harrison, Managing Director of Kingkraft, which provides specialist equipment for people with disabilities, said: “With our market being quite niche, it has been hugely helpful to have Sheffield City Region and UKIBC to find partners for us and the discussions we have subsequently had have been productive. We are very much looking forward to progressing that in the future and extend our thanks to all involved.”

Frank Wilkes, CEO of Kycker, a digital music publishing business, said: “We really appreciate the work of the India Growth Champions Scheme, which has been a great help to us. The information we received on the Indian market has been phenomenally good and led to success with prospective partners in our discussions at the virtual trade mission. We really appreciate the support we have had.”

Stuart Wesley, Managing Director of Robson Handling, a materials-handling provider, explains: “Our experience on the India Growth Champions Programme has been wholly positive. The report we received on the Indian market gave us a very good insight and has helped us to set up productive meetings on the virtual trade mission, with a good range of customers and consultants, as well as suppliers and manufacturing partners.”

Stuart Green, CEO at Zoo Digital, a provider of cloud-based dubbing, subtitling, localisation and distribution services, comments: “The virtual trade mission provided an opportunity to speak to organisations with which we can partner in India. It has been an incredibly valuable exercise.”

The India Growth Champions Scheme is a joint venture between Sheffield City Region and the UKIBC, launched in 2020. The scheme supports several South Yorkshire companies that were looking to build business links with India.