The Hon Philip Dalidakis MP - travel report - India and Sri Lanka - March 2018


The Hon Philip Dalidakis MP


Trade and Investment

Countries visited

India and Sri Lanka

Date of travel11 – 18 March 2018
No of official travel days
(including date of departure and date of return)
8 days
Number of accompanying Ministerial Staff1
Accompanied by spouse in an official capacityNo
Funding sourceDepartment of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Air fares (including taxes and fees)$13,689
Accommodation (including taxes and fees)$4,270
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances)$3,328
Travel cost for minister and staff$21,287

*The above costs are not final and complete

Purpose of travel

I travelled to India and Sri Lanka to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders, build government-to-government relationships and develop further trade and investment prospects for Victoria.

My travel supported Victoria's India Strategy: Our Shared Future, launched by the Premier in January 2018, which aims to double the value of Victoria's annual goods exports to India to almost $1 billion over the next decade.

The India Strategy is a whole of government document which prioritises the education, health, and liveability sectors. The strategy also proposes four themes to guide the State's engagement with India: meaningful engagement, equal exchange, personal connections and long-term commitment.

India is one of Victoria's most important international trade and investment partners, with increasing significance to the State in international education, the visitor economy and as a source of investment.

Sri Lanka continues to stand out as one of the fastest-growing countries in the region and the new government, elected in January 2015, is looking to improve education and training to boost productivity and create a knowledge and innovation led economy. I was the first Victorian Minister to visit Sri Lanka post the civil war.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria 

My travel supported a delegation of Victorian education institutes and sports tech organisations participating in a trade mission to India. My presence at various meetings in their program and at the networking events enabled me to showcase Victoria's world class capabilities in higher education, vocational education and training and sports technology - in addition to promoting Melbourne and Victoria as a study destination for international students.

Business engagement for further trade and investment ties

  • My meeting with Jain Group of Institutions (JGI) discussed the company's expansive business interests and desire to strengthen business ties in Victoria. The company has already made substantial investments in Melbourne and is looking to expand across the education, early childhood development, entrepreneurship and infrastructure sectors.
  • At my meeting with Star Sports, I was briefed on sports trends shaping India and the new mindsets of youth. I promoted Victoria's great strengths in sport and our companies looking to develop new global partnerships. There is a great opportunity for the Australia/India relationship to be strengthened through the common language of sport. There was a discussion about an exhibition Kabaddi game in Melbourne, as well as the potential for development of AFL, or the newly formatted AFLX in India.
  • I visited the National Cricket Academy (NCA) with the sports tech delegation. We were briefed about the Board of Control for Cricket in India's ambitious goals to strengthen and modernise the cricket ecosystem through a deeper focus on sports science and medicine, education and data analytics. The NCA is keen to develop long term and meaningful partnerships with Victoria's world-class sports sector and I have invited them to Melbourne to witness first-hand why Melbourne was last year named the global Ultimate Sports City of the decade and to further explore areas of mutual interest and benefit.
  • Along with the sport tech delegation, I met with Nike Sports and was briefed on Nike India's strategy and the models the company deploys around youth engagement and strengthening participation in sport. The presentation and observations provided great insight for our delegation and allowed them to have a deeper understanding of the sports sector and potential opportunities in India, such as innovative sports marketing programs. There was also a discussion around opportunities in sports diplomacy, which is part of Victoria's India Strategy: Our Shared Future.
  • I hosted networking events in Bangalore and Colombo for alumni, business associates, trading partners and Victorian companies in market. These events provided opportunities to identify further trade and investment ties in areas that can provide great economic and social benefits for Australia, India and Sri Lanka.
  • I met with Dr Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon Ltd to explore how Victoria may be able to be the international partner for the Global Technology Summit that will take place in Bangalore in December 2018. Dr Mazumdar-Shaw is a Victorian Business Ambassador - an important role which supports strengthening Victoria's connections with businesses in this region to enhance our trade and investment attraction.

Boosting Victoria's education and training exports

  • I participated in a roundtable organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – Southern Region: Building education excellence through international partnerships. The roundtable showcased the current engagement that exists between the states of Victoria and Tamil Nadu. Four of Victoria's ten universities attended the event and the discussions were fruitful and provided opportunities for follow-up by the universities. The CII Edu Gateway, a collaboration and partnership platform helping to bring industry and education providers together, was announced at the roundtable.
  • I presented at the tenth edition of the Automotive Research and Development (R&D) Conference in Chennai. The theme of redefining R&D resonated with the work we are doing here in Victoria, to continue as a global leader for design and engineering. We have invested heavily in science, infrastructure and technology. Victoria is a leading global hub for industrial research, in both the public and commercial sectors. Melbourne, in fact, has one of the highest rates of research collaborations in the world and 75 per cent of automotive R&D is based in Australia. Deakin and La Trobe universities also presented at the conference.
  • I launched the Deakin University and India Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras Centre of Excellence for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing. This partnership formally brings together two great nation-leading research institutions: Deakin's Institute of Frontier Materials, and IIT's Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering. This relationship has strengthened over ten years to be what it is today. Education is a priority sector for the Victorian Government within Victoria's India Strategy: Our Shared Future, which sets out key opportunities to enhance our collaboration with India, especially at a postgraduate level. Around 70 per cent of Victoria's R&D collaboration in India are with institutions and organisations in Tamil Nadu and I was delighted to be the first Victorian Government Minister to visit Chennai in an official capacity. The Indian and Australian governments are also working to develop regulations and standards to improve our two-way higher education operating environment and encourage future collaboration.
  • I accompanied the sports delegation to a meeting at the Centre for Sports Science at the Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai. I toured the facilities and was impressed with both the infrastructure as well as the current programs relating to high performance training. There was a productive discussion and some specific conversations relating to the establishment of a retail facility. Also, there were potential collaborative opportunities for Victoria University and the Professional Golfers Association.
  • In Colombo, I attended a luncheon hosted by Deakin University with key education and industry partners. I was pleased to note the strong partnerships that Deakin has established over the last few years, making it a brand leader in Sri Lanka. There was a strong endorsement of the university by its alumni.
  • I also visited Monash College at Universal College Lanka (UCL) and was briefed on their partnership. The meeting gave me an opportunity to promote Victoria as a study destination.
  • Along with former Sri Lankan Minister for Skill Development and Vocational Education, I attended a meeting at the National School of Business Management (NSBM). Victoria University (VU) has a transnational partnership with NSBM, enabling students to take a VU degree in Sri Lanka. Students have the choice to transfer to Melbourne in either years two or three. Partnerships such as these demonstrate the many benefits of international collaborations, including increased trade, deeper cultural links and strengthened relationships.
  • I visited the Colombo Academy of Hospitality Management and saw first-hand the work that William Angliss Institute is doing in partnership with the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT). I saw the types of programs that are taking place and had the pleasure of engaging directly with the students.

Facilitating Victorian business partnerships

  • Together with Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister, I witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between VicRoads and the Government of Tamil Nadu, an outcome of several years of effort. The MoU strengthens Victoria's leadership position in the three E's of road safety – education, engineering and enforcement. Victoria is now able to share this expertise and the MoU will pave the way for that sharing of knowledge. The MoU will enable opportunities for Victorian companies in this sector. 

Strengthening government to government connections and networks

  • I met with the former Sri Lankan Minister for Skill Development and Vocational Education. We discussed Victoria's significant and deepening education relationship with Sri Lanka and the impact that such strong bilateral engagement has for the young people of both our jurisdictions. Having established a reputation as a leading provider of both tertiary and skills education, the Victorian Government is keen to ensure that it supports Sri Lanka's aspirations to educate and upskill its next generation.

Positioning Victoria as Australia's innovation and tech hub

  • I met with Ramco Systems at their office facilities in Chennai. They announced that they are setting up a state-of-the-art Workforce Innovation Centre developing new technologies in artificial intelligence, facial recognition, language processing and interactive technologies like virtual assistants and chatbots. This builds on Ramco's Oceania Headquarters in Melbourne. I was also briefed about the work that Ramco Systems is doing in the cutting edge of technology, including augmented reality and virtual reality. Ramco's Aviation Innovation Lab in Singapore in partnership with the government was an interesting project and one which we could emulate in Melbourne.
  • I attended a roundtable meeting with Sri Lankan Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies and was briefed about their business operations and the collaborations they have with Victorian companies. The meeting provided me with an opportunity to speak on Victoria's key ICT priorities and to promote Victoria as a location for each company's expansion. Some of these companies are planning to have a permanent presence in Australia.

Next Steps / Follow Up

The Victorian Government Trade and Investment Network (VGTI) in Bangalore and Mumbai and Trade and Investment Victoria (Melbourne), will work with all potential investors to further scope opportunities:

  • for major companies in fields such as ICT to invest in Melbourne and set up regional headquarters;
  • for the potential for the development of AFL, or the newly formatted AFLX in India;
  • the National Cricket Academy to visit Melbourne, to tour our facilities and be briefed on our sports capabilities;
  • Victorian Business Ambassador Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw to explore how Victoria may be able to be the international partner for the Global Technology Summit that will take place in Bangalore in December 2018;
  • the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to collaborate, build academic and research partners and to deliver better employment outcomes. Information on the CII Edu Gateway initiative will provide the platform to do this;
  • VicRoads and the Government of Tamil Nadu to realise some of the opportunities under the MoU;
  • support organisers of the Automotive Research and Development (R&D) Conference in Chennai to assist them in developing linkages with Victorian academics and industry;
  • Deakin University to foster further R&D partnerships. The International Education unit in DEDJTR will also ensure that Deakin is updated with the various Victorian Government programs that further enhance the experience for international students in Victoria; and
  • advocacy with the Australian High Commission with respect to international companies bringing key resources to develop opportunities in Victoria.

Page last updated: 20 June 2018