Callaghan Innovation Energy & Aviation Sector Manager Chris Thomson gives some tips on succeeding in business in incredible India.
It’s incredibly big (population 1.2 billion), incredibly diverse (22 official languages), and incredibly polluted (with the world’s 4 most polluted cities).
I recently joined a group of eight NZ “clean technology” companies on a mission to India organised by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. The aim for the companies was to build relationships with Indian business partners, and learn about the local market for clean technology (e.g. renewable energy, water treatment, waste management etc).
The group included smart LED and solar company Solar Bright, a representative from Gallagher’s fuel systems business, Carbonscape, Environmental Management Services, ESG (flying the flag for Callaghan Innovation’s Hylink system), Windflow Technology, and recyclers Pacific Rubber. Astrolab, Greenhouse Capital, and ATEED also joined the party.
I took the opportunity to explore common commercialisation issues and opportunities for innovation as I travelled with the group. Along with many individual meetings, we visited the 9th Renewable Energy India Expo, we heard about India’s 100-smart-cities initiative, the 2022 target for 100 GW of solar energy (NZ’s total capacity is 10GW!), and the US$150 billion Ganges clean-up project.
We also presented NZ Inc solutions to a group of Indian business people, and signed several MoUs. We also attended an excellent workshop with a multinational technology accelerator and investment group (ETI Dynamics) about specific pilot-project opportunities.
The trip was a hectic experience filled with eye-opening moments and a huge sense of potential that motivated everyone involved. The Indian government, World Bank, Asia Development Bank and others are investing huge sums in this market creating intense competition.
Every developed country is vying for business here (Ireland has sent 16 ministerial delegations this year), and multinationals are setting up shop on every corner. So how can NZ innovators succeed in India?
#1 Collaboration. Local stakeholders we met during the mission were hugely impressed that a group of NZ companies could be working together, led by a Government Minister (thank you Hon Amy Adams!), to deliver packaged solutions. The demand for infrastructure-as-a-service looks past the technology and is focused on outcomes (X litres of clean water per day, X kilowatt-hours of energy per day) rather than the activated carbon or the synchronous wind turbine generator. In addition to the benefits of combined scale from collaboration, this market is looking for the whole package.
#2 Relationships. Indians value family and personal relationships above almost everything else. Maybe it’s the commonwealth, maybe it’s cricket, but for whatever reason we get on really well with India! They admire our pragmatism and have a perception that we look after our environment with great care. NZTE and MFAT do a great job building local relationships and it might just give us an edge.
#3 Commitment. Business in India is a test match. The need to pilot and prove technologies on the ground in India was made quite clear, and despite the investment, cost is still king in a developing country like India. Finding a local manufacturer may be necessary, and the size of the market will benefit those who can scale-up quickly anyway. Start small, focus on one geographic area, partner with locals and get some runs on the board. ETI Dynamics have introduced some excellent pilot project opportunities for NZ companies in India but they are not quick wins.
The game is on. India has some major environmental challenges that need innovative solutions. NZ has some of the worlds most practical problem solvers, but unless we focus on total solutions, collaborate and prove ourselves in-market we might be bowled out early.
If your keen to learn more, or turn your technology into a successful business solution, give us a call on 0800 4 CALLAGHAN.