AMBITIOUS plans to boost businesswith India could turn Southampton into the “beating heart” of the country’s relationship with the UK.

That is the message from key figures at an inaugural India Week hosted at the University of Southampton aimed at strengthening ties between the city and the subcontinent.

Indian companies are eyeing up the “signature” expertise from the city in port management, logistics, cruises and warehousing.

It’s hoped Southampton will draw business away from London, with India providing a shot-in-the-arm to the south coast.

Amarjit Singh, Chief Executive Officer at the Southampton-based India Business Group, said: “The Solent region has a vast Indian heritage and the India Business Group has been working collaboratively with our various partners and stakeholders here and in India to accelerate R&D innovation, knowledge exchange and increase cross-border business, trade and investment for mutual benefit.

“Post Brexit and post-pandemic, there is a golden opportunity for Southampton to become the beating heart of the UK’s relationship with India, which is predicted to be the world’s third-biggest global economy before the end of this decade”.

India Week has seen the country’s flag hoisted at the institution’s campus, screening of a film about Gandhi, Urdu poetry, Bollywood stars - and a link in with the City of Culture 2025 bid.

READ MORE: Southampton to be twinned with major Indian city Mumbai

It comes after Southampton councillors agreed a memorandum of understanding last November to work toward twinning with Mumbai.

Sudhir Mishra, a top lawyer in India who visited the city this week, said: “Indian companies are looking at Southampton with eagerness for joint collaborations on maritime business, warehousing hubs, luxury cruise line opportunities, management of ports, and logistics set-ups.

“With Southampton being the maritime capital of the United Kingdom, India will gain immensely if the required age shipping companies and large enterprises of port development tie-up with Southampton.”

Mr Mishra, India’s leading environmental lawyer, said the city “has something which India is developing to be”.

He added: “It’s a port city - one of the signatures for the UK when it comes to the ports.”

Councillor Dan Fitzhenry, Leader of Southampton City Council, said there are already strong ties between the city and India. He added: "We very much see ourselves as being the centre of the UK’s relationship with India, drawing on our cultural, business and geographical links and expertise - and creating a fantastic relationship between the two countries - and our city and Mumbai for the future.”