Ministers are hailing the tie-up with the 17th-largest state by population size as “a major milestone” from which businesses will “start reaping the rewards”.
Talks are underway with around 20 other states and the Department for International Trade expects around eight “memorandum of understandings” to be agreed soon.
However, the announcement did not include any concrete changes that would flow from the first results of what the department calls its “state level strategy”.
It would “look to improve procurement processes and strengthen academic and research ties” and “support our talented professionals with provisions on diversity”, the department said.
The memorandum would be “paving the way for professional qualifications to be recognised”, a media release said.
The new strategy is being pursued after Joe Biden made it clear that a US-UK free trade agreement is off the table, even before the latest bust-up over London’s plans to tear up the Northern Ireland protocol.
It was promised as a major prize from Brexit, campaigners lashing out at Barack Obama when he warned – in 2016 – that a deal would take a decade to achieve.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the trade secretary, said: “Our ambitious agreement with Indiana will help deliver value to UK businesses and support our areas of shared interest, such as levelling up.
“This is Global Britain in action, making innovative deals on the world stage – and will help UK companies grow faster, innovate more and support jobs and economic growth.”
But the energy company bp America was more cautious in its description of what it called “the strengthening relationship between the United Kingdom and Indiana”.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow trade secretary, said the government was on course for “another broken promise”, having promised a US trade deal by the end of 2022.
“Ministers should also be honest with exporters – and the British public – that state-level deals are no substitute for the completed US-UK trade deal they were promised.”
Naomi Smith, chief executive of the internationalist campaign group Best for Britain, called it “a feeble consolation prize for the Brexiter’s most fabled US trade deal, which is now indefinitely on ice”.
And Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrat trade spokesperson, said: “Boris Johnson can’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes – being left to negotiate with one state at a time with his tail between his legs.”