major campaign costing almost £1-million is being launched by The Chamber and Warwick
University to win new export markets in South Africa, the US, and the Baltic Rim states.
The project aims to give tailored advice to 300 firms in Coventry and Warwickshire
about the opportunities, and achieve 60 of them opening up export sales in those
Backing of nearly £500,000 has been won from Europe by The Chamber and firms are
expected to contribute £200,000 as part-payment for the support they get.
"Our Business Link export team has identified hugely undeveloped opportunities in
these three areas," said Mark Easton, manager of the project at the Chamber of
Commerce, Training and Enterprise.
"We will be concentrating on helping small and medium-sized companies-those with
fewer than 250 employees-to break into exporting and calculate that the orders to be won
would preserve 360 jobs.
"As well as offering advice and support, we will be negotiating trading protocols
in South Africa and the Baltic states and setting up networks with Chambers of Commerce in
those countries and through the Association of American Chambers."
Three specialist desks will be set up at The Chamber-replicating the enormous success
of The Chamber's 'China Desk', which, after five years work, is helping local companies to
win business totalling £2-million a year.
"The support will include market research, preparing marketing materials and
translations, and participating in trade exhibitions and overseas trade missions,"
said Ajay Desai, Euro funds co-ordinator at The Chamber.
"But we will also deliver any training such as marketing skills that a study of
firms taking part, combined with an analysis of their exporting potential, shows is
necessary for them to attack new markets in a thoroughly professional and effective
The Warwick Manufacturing Group at the university will provide higher level services
for companies which are identified as likely to benefit from improving their manufacturing
technology and developing their products.
Help will also be given with managing changes to their operations which a study of the
export potential reveals.
The Chamber will also produce a CD which pulls together information to help exporters
from a wide range of existing data bases.
The project will also link in to existing Business Link support programmes, such as
'REGAIN', which helps companies to win business from other firms in their area, and the
'Accelerate' programme which is helping companies in the automotive supply chain.
Mr. Desai said:
"Companies can no longer afford to rely on traditional domestic markets but need
to learn to compete globally with international competitors.
"A study of UK companies found that only two per cent were of world class
manufacturing status-yet 50 per cent had the potential to become world class.
"The alternative is to give up and enter a vicious circle of slower market growth
combining with increased competition, which puts a stranglehold on innovation.
"At best a company stagnates; at worst it dies.
"Yet, at the moment, firms in the West Midlands allocate less of their turnover
than the national average to new products and processes, and spend less on research and
"The project is being aimed at small and medium enterprises because they account
for 99 per cent of all businesses, and almost 70 per cent of employment.
"But the emphasis will be on quality of company-with fewer receiving considerable
support, rather than many receiving more superficial support.
"So there will be, first, a screening process to ensure that we identify those who
are likely to succeed in export markets."