AN international networking organisation for Scottish entrepreneurs and business leaders has appointed its first ambassador to India.

Scottish Business Network (SBN) says the move is significant because of the “incredible” opportunities India presents.

Serial entrepreneur Tom Thomas has been chosen as SBN ambassador to the city of Bangalore, the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state.

Born in Africa, educated in India and the US, Thomas has founded several companies in the technology and manufacturing sectors.

His relationship with Scotland began some 15 years ago and he will now look to use his connections and experience of building international businesses in India to support Scottish companies in what is one of the world’s most dynamic economies. Bangalore – or Bengaluru – is known as the “Silicon Valley of India”. It has a population of eight million people and is home to more than 60,000 technology-led companies, including global players IBM, Cisco, HP, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Goldman Sachs, Bosch and Hitachi.

The city is a major centre for aviation and aerospace and is headquarters base for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), an Indian state-owned aerospace and defence company.

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It is also a world leader in advanced manufacturing – with companies including Bosch and Toyota operating there – robotics, biotechnology, and several leading institutions of higher education are based in the city.

Thomas said: “India is open for business for British companies. Karnataka is India’s largest software exporter, largest producer of aerospace and defence equipment, has the largest biotech hub, and is the largest producer of coffee in the country. It also hosts the highest number of start-up enterprises in India.

“I will be delighted to support any Scottish company interested in exploring market opportunities here.”

SBN chair Russell Dalgleish said: “India represents an incredible market opportunity for Scottish companies and to my mind is one more accessible to UK companies than many others. We have traditionally viewed India as an outsource location, but it should be considered a vibrant export market opportunity for business and one Tom can help us explore.”

SBN has announced plans to accelerate the identification and appointment of ambassadors with the target of growing the current 12 international ambassadors to 50 during 2021.