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Front row L to R – Peter Johal, Bob Bhabra, Sir John, Thalej Vasishta, Walaiti Rathore, Anil Puri, Michael Johal. Back Row L to R – Arv Soar, Davinder Verdi, Dr Jas Bilkhu, Sam Sangha, Tej Basson, Paddy Tipping (Guest), Atul Joshi
450 guests joined Nottingham’s thriving British Indian business community at the BIBF annual dinner last Friday (23rd February) to celebrate success and to hear a rousing message from Sir John Peace, Chairman of the Midlands Engine.
The British Indian Business Forum (BIBF) was formed in November 2008 by a number of Nottingham business owners and respected figures, with an ambition to raise the profile of hidden success stories, share contacts and knowledge.
This year’s event, the 8th of its kind, saw a record turnout of 450 for the black tie dinner, held at Goosedale in Nottinghamshire. Following the dinner, guests heard from a variety of speakers, all keen to stress the vital role that BIBF and indeed Nottingham’s wider business community have in championing the city both here in the region, on a national level and crucially, internationally.
BIBF Chairman Dr Jas Bilkhu praised the work of the group and the assembled guests over the past year, specifically in their welcoming of a group of Indian first year students attending both of the city’s universities at the start of the academic year. This innovative project, driven by BIBF, brought together the two universities, the city council and the Indian Community Centre to welcome over 250 Indian students to Nottingham in a consolidated effort to make them feel at home in the city as soon as possible.
Those sentiments were echoed by Professor Ryan Cillian, Pro Vice Chancellor International at Nottingham Trent University, who described them as ‘key ambassadors for the city and our universities.’
‘This project provided a vital framework for the students and will act as a springboard for them to make a great start in the city,’ explained Professor Cillian.
‘The next step for local business owners is to provide internships for these talented and ambitious students, boosting their experience and your businesses whilst simultaneously forging links back in India.’
Next to address the audience was Sir John Peace, speaking on the night in his role as Chairman of the Midlands Engine about its vision to ‘deliver an enhanced quality of life for citizens and communities and become a globally recognised driver of the economy.’
‘We need to be able to compete as a region on the global stage,’ explained Sir John. ‘It is time to stop talking in whispers, it is time for the Midlands Engine to roar.
‘We don’t do this in a fragmented way, we do it together as a region to drive economic growth. By coming together we can make the difference and the work of the BIBF is very important to this. By raising the bar once again, as you have tonight, we can fulfil the region’s huge potential.’
Commenting on the event, Dr Bilkhu said:
‘We have had a fantastic event tonight with a record turnout and what I am hearing from everyone in the room is that same feeling of unity, of driving the city and the region forward together. Our work in welcoming the students, promoting our Regions Universities and getting behind the Midlands Engine is part of a long term vision, a vision that is truly global in its scope.
BIBF Secretary, Thalej Vasishta and who also sits on the East Midlands Chamber International Strategy Board and Brexit Advisory Group said:
“The positive contribution that international students make to the local and national economy is extremely important. In terms of income, this has been valued to be in the region of £3.5 billion for the Midlands economy but more so our Region’s world class universities attract the brightest and the best from around the world. This enhances the experience and network for home students, helps to facilitate cross border research and builds bridges for future trade and investment into the Midlands.
‘At a time when the UK is trying to negotiate trade deals around the world, the importance of international students returning home and becoming leaders in their field should not be underestimated. A happy and well looked after graduate returning home will be an ambassador of the Region and the UK”.
BIBF member Davinder Verdi said “If we can all work together, we can have a hugely positive influence on not just the reputation of Nottingham overseas but the entire Region. That is a mission that excites all our members and guests and one we will strive to fulfil.’
Concluding the event, Past-Chair of BIBF, Bob Bhabra was recognised for his dedication to the city and to the BIBF by Dr Jas Bilkhu and the assembled guests.