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Fremont Vice Mayor Natarajan Leads Trade Delegation to India

Fremont, Calif., Vice Mayor Anu Natarajan (left) with Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairwoman and managing director of Biocon, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore. (Photo courtesy of Anu Natarajan). Second photo: Manu Mehta, President and CEO Metabyte
  • FREMONT, Calif., United States

    A delegation of business leaders, educators and economic development planners will visit Bangalore, Chennai and Jaipur on a two-week trade mission, led by Fremont, Calif., Vice Mayor Anu Natarajan, beginning Nov. 15.

    “We’ve been looking at a strategic plan to brand and market Fremont. The perception is that China is the market to tap into, but increasingly we see that it’s India that we need to reach,” Natarajan told India-West, shortly before presenting her itinerary to the Fremont City Council Nov. 5. “The timing is perfect. Fremont is bouncing back, and I hope this trip will generate a bunch of new partnerships,” said the Indian American official, adding that her objective is for the delegation to return with an understanding of needs they can meet in India.

    The 15-member delegation includes Natarajan, Fremont city council member Vinnie Bacon; Kelly Klein, Fremont’s economic development director; Manu Mehta, founder and CEO of Metabyte; and Vikram Bhandari, vice president of global delivery at Yantra. Representatives from EnAct Home, and the Confederation for International Trade Development will also join the trip. 

    In India, members of the Confederation of Indian Industry will accompany the delegation in each city. Natarajan said she planned the trip with Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairwoman and managing director of Biocon, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore. Shaw ranked number 96 on Forbes recently released list of the 100 richest Indians.

    In August, Natarajan went to Biocon and met Shaw. “She told me she was pleased to see a Bangalore girl leading the delegation.”

    The mission will focus on the sectors of clean technology, high-tech, and biotechnology. Additionally, two representatives from Ohlone College, a community college based in Fremont, will also join the delegation to explore outreach to international students and an expansion of its biotechnology program.

    In Jaipur, a Memorandum of Understanding will be signed by a representative from Lawrence Berkeley Labs and Jaipur city officials regarding best practices for sustainable development of the historic “Pink City.” Natarajan wrote her master’s thesis, “Jaipur: Indo-Aryan Town Planning in India,” in 1990 at the University of Washington. The vice mayor said the focus in Jaipur, a sister city of Fremont, would be on creating cultural relationships between the two cities.

    The delegation will begin its venture in Bangalore, touring the campuses of software giant Infosys and Biocon. The delegation will also visit the facilities of EKO vehicles, which is developing electric cars, and NextGen, which creates software for sustainability.

    Interestingly, the group will also visit E-Parisara, pioneers in electronic waste management. Natarajan, who sits on several waste management boards in Alameda County, said E-Parisara was doing some really creative things in e-waste management.

    India-West had written about E-Parisara in a 2010 series of stories about India’s growing e-waste problem.

    In Chennai, the delegation will visit another technology giant, Cognizant, and tour a biotech park and a manufacturing hub. The group will also visit the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency and the Dr. MGR Educational and Research Institution in Maduravoyal.

    Mehta of Metabyte told India-West he sees himself as an ambassador, promoting his company as a success story that was born and raised in Fremont. “Fremont is a fantastic place to live in as well as do business. We have a culture of people who work hard and still volunteer at their children’s schools,” he said.

    Metabyte recently celebrated its 20th anniversary; the company now has offices around the world, including Bangalore, but is still headquartered in Fremont. The company’s employees have inspired three spinoffs, beginning with a tool for analyzing 3D graphics performance.

    Next came Wicked3D, which created products for gaming enthusiasts, and MbTV, a private label version of TiVo, which spun off almost immediately and is now used in countries throughout the world.

    Mehta said there are many as-yet undiscovered export opportunities in Fremont for the India market, and cited the life sciences and manufacturing sectors. 

    Metabyte will hold a reception for the delegates on their first day of arrival in Bangalore.

    Natarajan told India-West she hopes this will be the first step in developing continued partnerships between Fremont, Bangalore, Chennai and Jaipur. “It is personally gratifying to connect a bunch of people to cities I know so well,” she said.

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