Are foreign markets an opportunity in the recession?
Earlier this year the ICT Cluster conducted a survey into the level of export activity amongst ICT companies in the region. A healthy number, 84% of respondents, are already successfully exporting ICT products across the globe – from Europe to Asia and Africa. Amongst those companies that do not currently export, 64% stated that they plan to do so within the next 12-18 months and the remaining 36% expressed interest in learning more about how to export for the first time.
The results are encouraging. When sales are down, companies need to be innovative about finding new markets. ICT is a global opportunity so if a product is successful in the UK, the chances are there are potentially lucrative new markets overseas. However, entering any new market requires careful research and planning.
Some companies end up exporting almost by accident through overseas demand but it’s far better to have anticipated issues in advance. The best starting point is to research and develop a smart business plan. It’s important to really understand your product; how it adds value; where potential customers are; and identify key decision makers. On top of this it’s essential to know the country you’re targeting including; cultural, language and regulatory issues.
The West Midlands ICT Cluster is dedicated to stimulating and supporting international trade and can direct SMEs to support schemes for all aspects of exporting including: developing the business plan for the international market; financial support; legal and regulatory assistance; international market knowledge; overseas office space; export and cultural training and business networking and introductions. Assistance is available for SMEs currently exporting, those that are ready to engage in international trade and SMEs that have yet to export.
A full list of international trade support services available to West Midlands ICT SMEs can be found in the International Trade section on the ICT Cluster website. The main organisations are:
A further finding of the ICT Cluster research was the identification of the EU (40%) and USA/Canada (30%) as the most important export markets for existing ICT exporters. Most of these companies were selling through agents, partners or joint ventures. As many European countries are faring better than the UK they offer potentially large markets for Midlands companies. France, for example, has seen a relatively minimal increase in unemployment (only 0.7 per cent), there is economic stability in Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden are also looking strong through the downturn. These markets are facing some challenges but not on the same scale as the UK. Meanwhile, Germany, one of the biggest European markets, is doing better than most during this period of change and may be a key market for companies in the areas of manufacturing and engineering, automotive and electronics or related fields.
In recognition of the interest in exploring international markets, there are a number of scheduled events supporting trade in these regions, of which the following are some examples:
The Canada Opportunity 02 July 2009 at Aston Science Park (free event)The UK is Canada’s primary European trading partner. Canada is the UK’s 11th largest market, with exports reaching £3.3bn in 2007. The UK is the second largest foreign direct investor in Canada after the US.
Growth in many areas of ICT continues to increase and is fostered by collaboration among the ICT industry itself, government and academic institutions. Example segments for opportunities for West Midlands ICT companies include:
Market visit to Toronto, Canada - 4 - 9 October 2009 (Market Visit Grant up to £600.00 available)Companies from the West Midlands are invited to join an UKTI supported ICT visit to Toronto, Canada, to research the market place, obtain new clients and develop partner relationships.
Whilst in Canada, RIM (Makers of Blackberry) has invited the companies participating in the trade mission to their HQ in Waterloo. The objectives of this visit to RIM are to understand.
Reference the event flyer for more information and detailed programme.
TechnologyWorld09 – at Ricoh Arena, Coventry 23 - 24 November 2009As one of the largest technology 'speed meeting' events in the UK, TechnologyWorld has helped over 500 buyers and sellers to do business each year.
The event provides a highly effective platform for companies to identify and build new international business and partnership opportunities. It brings together UK and non-UK based companies from across the globe to do business via a 2 day, focused 'speed meeting' event.
TechnologyWorld09 will also include a world-class seminar/panel discussion programme and the opportunity for businesses to use the Soapbox to promote their technology.
Technology areas at TechnologyWorld are:
Visit http://www.technologyworld09.com/ for more information and booking. SUBSTANTIAL EARLY BIRD DISCOUNTS UNTIL 1st JULY.
Trading with Asia Pacific Region - Meet the experts – 21 September 2009 at Aston Science Park, BirminghamThe UK is Asia Pacific’s strong trading partner; countries within the Asia Pacific Region are among the UK’s largest international markets.
Growth in many areas of ICT continues to increase, which is fostered by collaboration among the ICT industry itself, government and academic institutions. Example opportunities include:
A number of market visits are also planned to Europe including Belgium in September 2009, Spain in February 2010 and Germany in March 2010. Further details will be announced in due course.
For the full survey report, please visit ICT Economic and Export Survey Results May 2009.