Keeping the momentum through digital delegations

The ISIA programme is finally ready for physical delegation trips again and we are all looking forward to May when we will meet in person. But first, let’s summarize and take a look back on the program activities during the pandemic. A testing time to say the least – but very far from idle from an ISIA point of view.

During 2020–21, the program shifted to a virtual platform in line with COVID-related travel restrictions. Four virtual delegations were organized during May and November of 2020 and 2021. Over 190 qualified B2B meetings were set up for 13 Swedish companies, which resulted in the generation of over 90 collaboration opportunities across sectors under resource management, energy efficiency, optimization, and risk management projects. The three webinar-based workshop sessions had a total participation of over 440 delegates representing 16 Indian industrial sectors and generated over 180 enquiries.

Pawan Tahlani, Senior Programme Manager at Business Sweden in New Dehli and Ludvig Lindström, Country Manager for India at the Swedish Energy Agency, reflect on the digital activities during 2021:

What, in short, are your experiences from working with digital delegations?

“In ISIA, we have since the start had digital components such as webinars. So we were well prepared when we on short notice during the spring of 2020 decided to move over to a digital format. We managed to keep momentum and attracted great interest and a significant number of participants from the Indian side. The second virtual ‘trip’ was also good and by then we were all more used to the digital format. From the third ‘trip’ it started to become clear that physical interactions were needed to move further in the discussions and dialogues.”

Are there benefits in this way of working, that will live on after the final restrictions have been lifted?

“As we have already had webinars and other digital forums as part of the regular setup for the programme there are no news there, and we intend to continue with that as it serves as preparation before meetings IRL. But it is possible that we can also use digital activities as a way of speeding up discussions and the process from first interaction to commitment to collaborations. On top of this we also have the Sustainability by Sweden – Showroom India. We have also had several digital workshops and seminars under this umbrella, often with a thematical focus, involving stakeholders from both countries.”

What kind of feedback have you received from the participants?

“The feeling is that almost all participants from both sides have seen a value in the efforts to keep momentum, and that they have been satisfied with the arrangements. Some of the participants have actually succeeded in moving on to establish relationships, one or two have set up local representation.”

Dinesh Ghai is program coordinator at the Indian industrial enterprise organization CII – Confederation of Indian Industry Green Business Centre. His task is to match Swedish companies with Indian stakeholders and he summarizes his experiences from the digital delegations:

“This way of working is an excellent example that green makes business sense,” says Dinesh Ghai.