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Britain returns to tap Indian brains

The UK Govt has appointed entrepreneur Alpesh Patel as its first and only 'dealmaker' in India to scout for revolutionary talent, reports Naomi Canton.
Hindustan Times | By Naomi Canton, Mumbai
UPDATED ON OCT 07, 2007 11:56 PM IST

At first they came to hunt for gold and spices, then to expand their territories. In recent years it was to exploit cheap labour, but now the British want something else: intellectual property (IP).

The British Government appointed entrepreneur Alpesh Patel as its first and only 'dealmaker' in India two years ago to scout for revolutionary talent.

Since then 36-year-old, of Gujarati roots, has persuaded 12 early-stage Indian companies with outstanding intellectual property (IP) to shift HQ to the UK.

His job, employed by Government's UK Trade & Investment arm, is to increase the entrepreneurial, scientific and intellectual gene pool in Britain.

The entrepreneurs he persuades to shift must agree to have their HQ in the UK and be based there and pay the corporate taxes there - a main rate of 30 per cent or small company rate of 19.

In return they get assistance accessing western markets, writing a business plan, recruiting talent and obtaining finance.
Patel, who was passing through Mumbai last week, gets about 200 business plans from Indian startups per year and from those he picks four or five entrepreneurs with revolutionary IP to strike deals with.

“If each has a earning potential of US$20m in five years, then if I find 10 companies that is $200m introduced into the UK,” he said.

India is one of only three countries the UK has dealmakers in: the others are Australia and the USA. So why India?

“India has always been one of the most scientifically innovative races in the world,” Patel said. "There is no shortage of entrepreneurs in India but they don't have the capital and structure we have in the UK.

“Britain is a small island nation of 60m. In the olden days we built empires by taking countries over. Now the new territory is IP.”

But why would India’s rising entrepreneurs shift? “We can offer an entry point to the EU and US markets, as well as sales people with expertise in those markets,” Patel said. “So we can accelerate their growth especially if they are exporting.

“We can also offer academic support at our universities and being in the UK will help them appear more credible to westerrn markets.

“The Indian Government is behind this because it will create global players, much of the work can still be done in India and Indian businessmen will always repatriate wealth back home.”

Nanotech, which makes nano-metals, is one Kolkata company making the move and it plans to float on AIM by the end of the year.

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