A recent report from Grant Thornton UK LLP and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) revealed there are currently over 800 Indian companies operating in the UK, employing over 105,000 people. The report found that of the fastest growing Indian companies, over half are now based in London, up from 44 percent in 2017 and 39 percent in 2016.
Facilitating this is the Mayor of London’s India Emerging 20 (IE20) business programme. Into its third year, the IE20 announced the latest list of 20 of India’s fastest growing companies to receive the award and expand to London. The winners were selected from regions across India and represent some of India’s most innovative, high growth businesses specialising in technology, life sciences, and business services.
These include companies like Hug Innovations from Hyderabad, Furtados School of Music from Mumbai, Ittisa Digital Media Services from Bengaluru, Dineout from Dehli, and Chai Point from Bengaluru.
According to London & Partners, Mayor of London’s official promotional agency, which launched the IE20 programme along with BDO and Lalit Hotels, “The companies selected to join this year’s programme will receive help in setting up or expanding their business in London. The winners will also have the opportunity to benefit from discounted rates on a London office and advice on marketing, access to finance, and local market analysis.”
The 20 winners were chosen from over 300 applications from some of India’s leading business hubs such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, and New Delhi.
In an exclusive chat with YourStory, Jules Chappell OBE, Managing Director Business, London & Partners, throws more light on the IE20 award and how Indian businesses can benefit.
Jules was named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. After graduating from Oxford, she joined the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office where in 2003, she was posted to Baghdad, Iraq, as a member of the Coalition's Governance Team after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Her work helping women to re-enter politics in post-war Iraq led to her being awarded an OBE in 2004. In 2009, Jules was appointed as the UK Ambassador to Guatemala. This appointment, lasting until 2012, saw her become the UK’s youngest ambassador.
Excerpts from the interview.
YourStory: Where are the winners of the past two years in their business journey?
Jules: These companies have grown to a certain level where the conversations are different. They already have active plans in the UK so success for all companies is very different. Some of them have grown in the domestic market with the whole title of IE20 winners. One of my favourites was the online tea company, Teabox. And coming into a London audience that is fellow tea lovers, I thought it was a very smart and good move for us.
For the companies also, this is a journey and certain decisions (to move to London) will take much longer than two years. But some of them have actually got funding and some have been acquired.
Two of last year’s winners were actually jury members this year. In Delhi, we had Kanika Gupta from Square Yards, while in Bengaluru, we had Arjun Pratap from edGE Networks.
YS: How do you handhold the companies through that journey, how does that process happen?
Jules: This year, the feedback from those who applied has been very good. So the prize can be taken anytime up to 18 months after the winners have been announced and that is the exact point that’s being made about this being tailored for the companies.
It’s not like you have to come over to London now, at this day. The next 18 months your company will go through certain phases where it needs to be when you are ready to come. Then what we offer when they do come is a six-month working space free of charge. For companies, it is incredibly helpful as you take away that upfront cost.
And then it’s about tailored support, so whether that be support related to understanding the regulatory environment, the integration environment, the finance, what tax support you can get in terms of R&D credits, patent support, all that kind of stuff that comes with being a part of the London ecosystem.
YS: Visas remain a big issue and entrepreneurs would like some ease in the process.
Jules: I know visas are always an issue. We have what we call an entrepreneur visa but in the last couple of years, we have reached the maximum number and so Mayor Sajid Khan has been lobbying to have flexibility on how London is able to welcome entrepreneurs. So I think it’s always a difficult, sensitive area but one where London is pushing very hard.
YS: For those companies who may be thinking of applying next year, what is it that they need to understand about the London market and how is that market different from the Indian one?
Jules: For one, the Asian population is quite large in London, it’s quite dominant over there so that’s one thing. When it comes to the ease of doing business, if all the documents are under compliance, the registration gets completed within 48 hours. And the company is active to trade from right there onwards. I was just looking back through the companies actually, and one thing that came out clearly is that when there’s been innovation here (in the UK) it is applicable on a global scale.
Here's the full list of companies awarded the IE20: Appnomic Systems, BiOZEEN, BlackPepper Technologies, Chai Point (Mountain Trail Foods), Happay, Intello Labs, Ittisa Digital Media Services, Senseforth, Chakr Innovation, Dineout / inResto, Fork Media, Lucideus Tech, Morph.ai, Videonetics Technology, Wigzo Technologies, Hug Innovations, FSM Education, Gaia Smart Cities, Iksula Services, and SaffronStays.