An exciting new initiative – the Wolverhampton India Project - has been launched in Wolverhampton.
Liam Byrne MP and Minister for the West Midlands was the keynote speaker at the event on Friday.
Hosted by Wolverhampton Mayor, Councillor Trudy Bowen, the event was attended by representatives from the political, business, education and sporting communities.
Launched nationally at the House of Commons last July (2007) at the instigation of Wolverhampton SE MP Pat McFadden, the ambitious project has received backing from the city council, and Wolverhampton’s two other MPs, Rob Marris and Ken Purchase. The project also has the support of the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
Trade Minister Lord Digby Jones, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, the University of Wolverhampton, City of Wolverhampton College, the Chamber of Commerce, and Ashram Housing Association, together with UK Trade and Industry and the UK India Business Council are also supporting the project.
Trade, Education and Culture/Sport are the project’s three main areas of focus. Its aim is to strengthen existing links and open up new opportunities for mutual benefit, making a positive contribution to businesses, individuals and communities in India and Wolverhampton.
Leader of the City Council Councillor, Roger Lawrence, said: “Many people from the sub continent have made Wolverhampton their home over the last half century. They have made a major contribution to the city’s economic, cultural and political life.
“As India’s domestic economy flourishes, the city council can see a promising future in building strong mutual economic partnerships between UK and Indian enterprises.
“This is why we welcome the Wolverhampton India project as a model for how a modern British city can organise collaborations between key partners to realise a cutting edge advantage in the globalised world,” he added.
It is hoped that the launch event will capture the imagination and interest of people in the city for the project and especially encourage more private sector involvement. A proposed draft action plan to take the project forward was presented at the event.
Jo Gittens, Director of the International Office at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “I am delighted that the University of Wolverhampton is a key partner and able to play such an important role in the Wolverhampton India project, which has the support of the Prime Minister.
“The local launch is very timely as it coincides with the fourth India-UK summit where Gordon Brown will be having talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with the aim of improving trade and investment between the UK and India.
“The University has already built a strong presence in the subcontinent and I am confident that the project will provide us with a platform upon which to build our activities even further,” she added.
The University of Wolverhampton, which has a permanent presence in India through its regional office in Delhi, has made significant inroads into the market, attracting more students to the city and has also committed to representing the interests of the Wolverhampton India project in the sub continent.
Significant development work has been talking place since the July national launch which has included the securing of British Council funds to create links between six Wolverhampton schools and four Indian schools focussing on environmental issues.
The support of key agencies such as UK Trade & Investment, the India Pakistan Trade Unit, and the UK India Business Council has also been engaged.
A proposal has been developed to celebrate the impact of people with Indian origins to the economic, educational and cultural well being of Wolverhampton with a programme of events in late June 2008.
A "Soft Landings" event has also taken place in Delhi this week to raise the profile of the initiative. Soft Landings is an established project giving potential investors a lead into a new country or area.
Pragyat Singh, Head of the University of Wolverhampton’s India office and also the Wolverhampton India Project’s contact in India, attended the Delhi event to represent the City.
Key individuals who deal with and travel to India have also agreed to act as "ambassadors" for the project, as the intention is to build up a network of contacts in the sub continent.
Anyone wanting to find out more about the Wolverhampton India Project or volunteer to become ambassadors, can contact Kevin Westwood on 01902 555850 or Caroline Harris on 01902 554197.
For press inquiries, please contact the University of Wolverhampton Press Office on 01902 32 2736 or 07973 335112 or Wolverhampton City Council Press Office on 01902 554077/554076/551959.