The University of East London (UEL) and Sahara India Pariwar today (Wednesday, 20 February) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will pave the way for the development of an iconic new building in London's Docklands.

Both parties convened at a special meeting earlier today in India to put pen to paper on the MOU, following UEL's purchase of the Royal Docks four acre site from the Greater London Authority (GLA). The Prime Minister David Cameron is currently in India leading one of the Government's largest ever trade missions to strengthen business ties between the UK and India.

As part of the MOU, UEL and Sahara India Pariwar - one of India's leading multi-business investment conglomerates - will work in partnership towards investing, developing and managing the International India Centre (IIC) at UEL's Docklands Campus, which is ten minutes from Canary Wharf - London's main business district.

The development of the IIC marks a major milestone in the historic and unique relationship between the UK and South Asia. Situated to the west of UEL's Docklands Campus, the IIC will essentially become European HQ to Sahara India Pariwar and home to some of India's leading businesses - creating a wide range of exciting employment opportunities for students and local people in the process.

Through the centre, students, local communities and UK businesses will get an unrivalled opportunity to tap into one of the world's fastest growing and most buoyant economies by working with some of India's top companies and business leaders. While students will be able to enrol on courses in Indian fashion and media to name but a few, the IIC will also play host to a rich programme of cultural activities to complement and celebrate South Asia's remarkable and telling contribution to the UK. In addition, the IIC will become synonymous with world-class research in the area of South Asian business.

UEL Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, Dusty Amroliwala, said: "Our plans to embark on this ambitious and very exciting project have now started in earnest. The development of the International India Centre will prove to be an iconic addition to the Docklands business community and skyline. Without question, the lure of Sahara setting up its European operation at UEL will attract some of India's most elite students to our university, helping boost recruitment figures and bring inward investment into East London.

"As a university, we have always enjoyed strong links with South Asia, and the development of the IIC will only serve to strengthen that. We look forward to working in close partnership with Sahara and building upon our reputation as a university of choice for students in India and South Asia."

Following six months of planning consultation, a competition will be launched with the view of selecting a world-renowned architect to design the IIC. Work is anticipated to start in early 2014