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Connected cities mission to India

Source: PSE Dec/Jan 17

Niraj Saraf, Connected Cities Mission lead for Innovate UK, explains how learning from the UK is helping other countries, including India, develop their smart city programmes.

The global need for radical solutions to city challenges is becoming ever clearer. Over the last few years Innovate UK has made significant progress in developing UK SME capability in being able to offer, and show value from, the kinds of innovative cross-systems products and services that cities need in order to flourish in the future. Accelerators in the UK such as the Cognicity Challenge and Mass Challenge have also added to this capability. 

As a result of our first Connected Cities Mission, UK SMEs are now building partnerships and winning business in Malaysia and Singapore. We wanted to build on that success with more in India. 

Mission to India 

Perhaps the biggest urbanisation challenge in the world is the one facing India, which is currently only around 30% urbanised. If, as expected, the global urbanisation trend is followed in India, the country can expect that in the next 15 years, some 300 million people will move into cities – almost the same as the entire population of the US. In anticipation, the government has launched a Smart Cities programme to develop 100 ‘Smart’ cities, and the Indian government is seeding this with £100m investment. The first 20 lighthouse cities are planning projects with capital expenditure of £4.8bn. Overall, £24bn worth of investment is expected across 100 cities over the next five to seven years. 

The scale of the challenge and the size of the opportunity it presents for UK small businesses is why we worked with the Department for International Trade, the Enterprise Europe Network, and Future Cities Catapult to take our Connected Cities Entrepreneur Mission to India. 

We started in Delhi where we were part of a very high-profile UK-India Tech Summit, attended by both prime ministers and ministerial teams which brought together British businesses and science and technology experts to India to show the best of what the UK has to offer, and to build collaborations and partnerships to further enhance the India-UK relationship in the future. This flagship knowledge and technology conference was an unmissable opportunity to meet some of the key Indian industry players and other stakeholders in the Smart Cities programme. 

The Mission then went on to Pune, one of the most progressive of the 20 lighthouse cities which will also be the home of the ‘Smart Hub’, and learning and knowledge sharing resource being set up by the Future Cities Catapult to support India’s Smart Cities programme. Pune has the aspiration of becoming the most liveable city in India. 

We finished by going to Kochi, in Kerala, where the UK government has supported the development of a masterplan for future-proofing the city. This involves identifying the investments and projects required to address four key infrastructure priorities: transport, flooding, eco neighbourhoods and solid waste management, so it should offer a wide variety of opportunities for mission participants. We had extensive meetings with the Kochi smart city team, the Kochi Metro Rail Limited team and businesses from across the city and Kerala region. 

The opportunities for the companies taking part in the Mission were significant and varied. Our entrepreneurs were part of an overall group of 20 companies on the Connected Cities Mission, with a varied mix of smart city platforms and products. In common they had the UK’s expertise in urban living solutions. In addition, three companies who have been helped by Innovate UK through our urban living programme joined the prime minister’s trade delegation to the Tech Summit. These were Nquiring Minds, Red Ninja, and Bronze Software Labs Ltd who were represented in both delegations.

For More Information

Tw: @NirajKSaraf


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