By Claire West

With the Treasury forecasting in its Pre-Budget Report that growth in the UK’s traditional export markets of Europe and the US will slow, the BCC and UKTI are encouraging firms to look overseas and seek out opportunities where they exist.
However a business must do its homework on the market first.

John Dunsmure, Managing Director of the British Chambers of Commerce said:

“There is so much economic and political uncertainty at the moment. Many companies are very concerned about their future. Whilst we are not celebrating the falling rate of the UK pound there could be some competitive advantages to be gained by companies wishing to export at the moment. However the whole area of exporting exposes business to new risks they should work hard to mitigate. The Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS) is the perfect place to start for any company that seriously wants to enter a new market.”

For the last 20 years the BCC has managed the EMRS on behalf of UKTI. The service provides companies with free, professional and independent advice about researching export markets. It also provides financial subsidies of up to 50 per cent towards marketing research costs.

The EMRS has provided £11 million of grant money to 6,000 company research projects over the past 20 years. A further £3 million of grant funds have been paid out to 240 trade association projects, assisting thousands of other companies.

Bob Collier Deputy Director, Regional Directorate, UK Trade & Investment added:

“While growth projections for many of the UK’s traditional export markets may not be as strong as in the past, opportunities do exist in these markets and further afield. The emerging economies continue to show great promise for businesses of all sizes. When embarking on export into countries where you don’t have a strong pool of experience to draw on, research becomes essential. It has been shown to make the difference between success and failure.”

One of the companies that benefited from the EMRS during the last recession in the early 1990’s was Critical Strategic Solutions.

Managing Director, Dr Alan Bell said:

“I can’t praise the scheme highly enough. It has been fundamental to a 16-year-period of development that has seen our business transformed from one operating successfully in the North East of England, to a global player and partner to big businesses worldwide.”