British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday announced the creation of a new £40-million pound (~ US $51 Mn) Fast-Track Start-up Fund, focussed on India's emerging technology enterprises as part of the wider UK-India Tech Partnership.

The announcement came as May marked the 'India Day' here.

Describing India and the UK as twin pillars of the Commonwealth built on shared values of democracy and the rule of law, she called on the Indian government to raise its proposed international sovereign bond later this year in the financial hub of London.

“We have opened a GBP (pound) 40 million Fast-Track Start-Up Fund, supported by both the UK and Indian governments, to invest in Indian start-ups focussed on emerging technology," May said in a keynote address.

"When the Indian government raises its first ever international sovereign bond later this year, I hope they do so in the City of London – whose capital markets, with their unrivalled depth and liquidity, are the best in the world,” she said.

As a caretaker Prime Minister, who is in Downing Street until a new leader is elected between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt next week, the outgoing leader said she was "immensely proud" of the work done with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the past three years in office to strengthen India-UK ties and ensure the "very special relationship" works for everyone.

"Over the past three years, Indian companies have raised GBP 2 billion through green bonds listed on the London Stock Exchange. We are in the midst of an immensely productive period of economic relations between India and the UK," May said.

"I am confident that the business links between our nations will continue to grow stronger and deeper, drawing us together and creating jobs and prosperity from Manipur to Manchester," she said.

India Day, co-hosted by the UK government's Department for International Trade (DIT) and City of London Corporation, is conceived as an avenue to explore new opportunities for India-UK collaboration in the field of financial and professional services.

Piyush Goyal, the minister of railways and commerce and industry, represented the Indian government at the event, where he referred to it as the first of several such events which will help both UK and Indian businesses find ways to create cost competitiveness in the bilateral partnership.

"If we can work together with a focus on three thrust areas of inclusion, investment and innovation, India and the UK together will be a partnership very difficult to compete with," he said.

The day-long event in the historic Mansion House in the heart of London's financial district included keynote addresses and a range of panel discussions around subjects of green infrastructure financing, future of insurance, technology and innovation.

UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, used his address to promote the London Stock Exchange as a port of call for international sovereign bonds, an initiative announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the recent Budget statement.

Fox said: "I was delighted to learn in the Budget that India is considering issuing sovereign bonds abroad… and I hope you will consider issuing on the London Stock Exchange. There are over 400 sovereign bonds listed on the exchange, and we are able to offer a low cost, efficient listing process, with access to one of the deepest financial markets in the world.

"The London Stock Exchange is already the world's largest rupee denominated Masala bond centre… It sells more than half of all the rupee denominated bonds issued to overseas buyers globally.”

According to official DIT data, India-UK bilateral trade is valued at more than 20.5 billion pound per year and grew at 14 per cent last year.

The Lord Mayor of London, Peter Estlin, spoke of the strengths of the City of London – known as the Square Mile – as he revealed key India-UK fintech tie-ups, including UK firm R5FX having agreed a partnership with Edelweiss GIA and Indian challenger bank TMW Pay becoming operational in London with an investment of 20 million pound and creating 100 jobs.

"Areas like fintech, which can help drive financial inclusion, contribute to economic growth and provide a chance for us to learn from each other's success. Since 2014, Indian fintech start-ups have seen almost GBP 4.5 billion pounds invested across 660 deals…," Estlin said.

And here in the UK we have the people, the talent and the capital to help create opportunities for Indian fintechs to grow and test their fintech products,” said Estlin. PTI AK

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