A UNIVERSITY partnership and business deals with India could bring millions of pounds to the south Essex economy, according to Basildon Council’s chief executive.

Council boss Bala Mahendran is hopeful of a potential deal following a business trip to India will result in a huge boost to Basildon’s economy.

The trip, funded by the European Business Technology Centre, enabled Prospects – an engineering and vocational college – to forge links with the Thiagarajar College of Engineering in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

A delegation from the Indian university will visit Basildon next month.

It is expected Prospects will help develop a vocational curriculum to train Indian students and the IT expertise at the college in Madurai will be passed on to students and lecturers in Basildon.

During the visit, David Sherlock, chairman of Prospects, signed a memorandum of understanding, promising to develop a business proposal.

Mr Mahendran said the council could be in line for a finder’s fee if the deal is sealed and Basildon Council and businesses could also benefit in the future.

Mr Mahendran said: “We are getting closer to making these deals and taking a finder’s fee.

“If we pull this off there is an agreement between us and Prospects that a percentage will come to us.

“I want to ringfence that money to promote economic development activities to go into schools to do more work in terms of promoting vocational careers and options to lift and aspire people.

The plans could see a digital hub created at the college for businesses to use to build relationships in India and apprentices could go out there to learn new skills.

Neil Bates, principal of Prospects College, which has centres in Basildon and Southend, said: “It’s an opportunity to form a partnership with a university in India and to do some joint development work.

“We have a number of businesses who have apprentices and we are looking to see if we can send some apprentices to India.We will be offering the university an opportunity for students and staff to come and work with our lecturers.”

BALA Mahendran has been made a non-executive governor of Prospects College.

Basildon Council has been described as unique by the Deputy British High Commissioner in Chennai for its commercial ventures.

Mr Mahendran said: “We are selling Basildon. The borough is responsible for 22 per cent of the GDP of Essex, we are the second largest economy outside Canary Wharf, 25 per cent of all mechanics and engineering is in Essex and we are only 30 miles from London.

“There is a need for us to commercialise and look at what expertise we can export.

“We are trying to bring in income and this trip was a fantastic opportunity for the college and the council to benefit from trade links we have cultivated with India.”