Thursday, 13 Jun 2013
UK tech companies switch on to India
For UK technology companies, the changing landscape of India currently offers exciting business opportunities.
Recently, India has grown rapidly to become the world’s 10th largest economy with a population numbering 1.2 billion, 700 million of which are under 30. This dynamic growth trend is expected to continue. By the year 2020, the country is predicted to become the world’s fifth largest economy.
As an emerging market, innovative technology is needed in India to support development in poor areas. India’s growing middle class, meanwhile, increasingly demand better services, products and infrastructure, including affordable healthcare, education, energy and finance. UK companies, globally renowned to be at the cutting edge of technology, are therefore well-placed to seek opportunities in this vast, complex yet high-potential market.
Advice and help to make that ambition a reality is also available. In May, UKTI announced that 20 selected UK technology SMEs would receive support for doing business in India, allowing them to develop crucial market entry strategies. The training programme will be delivered by Tata Management Training Centre and includes business-oriented education, mentoring and hands-on support.
Exploring the market
“We’ve found a good niche in India for our technology. It’s perfect for us because we have developed the right products at the right price - and the timing for the market is now."
Bijan Mohandes, VP Worldwide Sales & Marketing at Cyan
Many UK technology firms have already successfully explored the Indian market. These include Coveritas and Cyan — two pioneering companies that were selected to take part in Web Mission 2013, a trade mission to Bangalore and New Delhi in February, that was supported by the Technology Strategy Board and UKTI. The aim of Web 2013 was for 16 of the UK’s most promising digital, wireless and mobile software technology companies to develop new relationships and accelerate opportunities with potential customers and partners in India.
Cyan is a Cambridge-based integrated system and software design company that delivers mesh based flexible wireless solutions for utility metering and lighting control. A recent study predicted that smart utility meters will account for half of all global meter market revenues by 2016; and that Asian markets are also moving towards communicating utility meters.
Cyan’s smart metering solution for utilities is already deployed in multiple pilot projects throughout India. These include the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) pilot project in Tiruchchirappalli, (Trichy) in the state of Tamil Nadu; and, through one of Cyan’s partners, a high profile smart grid project in Puducherry. Cyan is also involved in an Advanced Metering Infrastructure pilot project for a leading integrated power company in Mumbai.
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Then, in March, Cyan announced that it was increasing its operations in India and had appointed a Country Manager to build key relationships in the energy and utility sector.
"Ours is an Indian good news story," says Bijan Mohandes, VP Worldwide Sales & Marketing at Cyan. "We are a company with 25 employees that has built relationships with five of the top energy companies in India. We’ve achieved that by working hard on the ground for three years and finding the right local team."
The Indian energy market, says Bijan, is currently in need of exactly the kind of technology that Cyan produces. "Around 200million electricity meters reputedly need changing in the country," he says. "We’ve found a good niche in India for our technology. It’s perfect for us because we have developed the right products at the right price - and the timing for the market is now."
India can, however, be a challenging market - one that needs to be researched thoroughly, says Bijan. "It’s a huge country - flying from Delhi to Chennai takes three hours - and it’s an aggressive market, too, so companies should take business advice from people who know India well.
"There are also cultural aspects to the country that have to be respected. Business connections and relationships are extremely important in India, for example, and it’s a must to first find the right partner who can position you in the market.
"At Cyan we looked for a company that was an expert in building relationships and worked closely with them (Accelerator India, also based in Cambridge). Then, when we reached a critical point, we began hiring our own local people."
Sean Redmond is the CEO of Coveritas, based in Bletchley Park, a company that has developed an Intelligent Test Automation & Verification tool suite set to deliver a step-change in the way that software is tested and functionally verified. Coveritas, which deployed its initial product in 2010 and worked in stealth mode until 2012, licenses its tools to software developers and testers, primarily in electronics systems; although the tools can test any kind of software - from banking to security - to prove the robustness of systems and find functional bugs that other approaches miss.
Coveritas’ business is driven by users - and the biggest user community for the tools it produces is found in India. It made absolute sense to enter the market.
"India was always on our radar," says Sean. "Working in the semiconductor industry we saw more and more testing of silicon chips and associated software move to India; and the offshoring and outsourcing that took place over the last decade has driven huge growth in India for this type of activity. In fact, there are more functional testing activities happening in India than anywhere else in the world."
Like Cyan, Coveritas knew it was crucial to find a trusted local partner in India. In February, during Web 2013, Coveritas announced that it had signed CMR Design Automation P Ltd to a multi-year agreement as its exclusive sales partner in India and Singapore. CMR, one of the most successful Electronic Software Design Automation solutions suppliers in India, will now bring Coveritas intelligent software verification tool suite to electronic system and software development teams in India and South Asia.
"If any UK company wants to do business in India, I would first recommend finding a strong local partner," says Sean. "You’ve got to be able to build mutual respect and trust because they are your main point of contact. Our partners are our business face in India, so we spend a lot of time supporting them and training them.
"We now typically visit India once every three months to continue to support and drive that activity, and the end result is a lot of opportunity for us. The types of companies using our tool suite in India today are big global companies - the kind that have large R&D activities in the country."
British businesses operating in India will discover a solid link that exists between the two countries. This extends into the realm of collaborative scientific research, too. For example, Indian-UK collaboration was strengthened in April last year when a £10 million boost for an India-UK tech research project, which employs 200 scientists in both countries, was announced.
The investment supports the second phase of research into next generation Telecommunications networks - state-of-the-art platforms and applications that will carry voice, video and data in the future internet.
This is a key part of the work of the India-UK Advanced Technology Centre (IU-ATC), a collaborative programme funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) and industrial partners in both countries.
At the time of the investment announcement, Dr Liam Blackwell, Head of EPSRC’s ICT Theme said: "This next phase of the India-UK Advanced Technology Centre project is expected to contribute to leading edge international collaboration in ICT research which will benefit both countries and develop their capabilities." The investment brings together leading universities and institutes from both countries to develop technological solutions to a range of important issues. These include developing low-cost solutions for rural access to broadband, improved use of available spectrum as well as applications for rural health monitoring, emergency and disaster communications, social TV-Virtual Classrooms and other services.
"India is a good place for UK companies to do business because of its strong association with Britain," says Cyan Technology’s Bijan Mohandes. "Indian people are very willing to listen and learn; and although there are different languages and dialects across the country, the language of business is English.
"There is also a big interest in UK companies, particularly from Oxford and Cambridge, which are viewed as the world’s best. Any type of British technology is very well-received."