By Claire West

£13 million of funding has been awarded by the Government to help 10,000 more British firms export. The funds will go to UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to help more companies make contacts and sell to overseas markets.

The majority of the investment — up to £9 million — will go directly towards boosting trade opportunities for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs).

This additional funding for SMEs means:

•There will be more money available for SMEs to attend trade shows abroad through expanding the Tradeshow Access Programme

•Substantial discounts will be offered on the Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS), which provides targeted market research to help businesses find those crucial first contacts overseas and to help them develop relationships in new, fast-growing markets

•There will be increased support available for travel on overseas trade missions.
In addition, £2.5 million will be invested in helping firms access and win some of the many high-value opportunities that UKTI has identified globally.

A further £1.5 million will be used for projects including support for UKTI’s work attracting vital inward investment into our economy.

This announcement comes as UKTI prepares to host ‘Export Week’ from 12-16 November, when there will be over one hundred events up and down the UK designed to reach out to SMEs. There will also be five ‘Explore Export’ events where UKTI experts from 70 overseas markets will be on hand to provide bespoke advice about trading both with our traditional partners and with high-growth markets.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“One of our major ambitions for growth is to boost UK exports: we have to excel in trade. Small and medium-sized enterprises are crucial to this challenge — over half of the monetary value of the UK’s exports comes from SMEs.

“SMEs are innovators in every sector, whether hi-tech or traditional, and they are major job creators for our economy employing almost 60 per cent of the private sector workforce. This extra funding will help those businesses already exporting to go further and explore new markets, and help those thinking of exporting to make that crucial first step.

“We anticipate that over 10,000 businesses will benefit from the additional funding, moving us closer to our ambition of getting 100,000 more businesses exporting British goods and services around the world.”

Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green said:

“UK Trade & Investment intends to double the number of companies it helps to 50,000 by 2015. We know that our help can have a transformative effect on businesses. On average, companies that work with UKTI go on to win additional sales of £100,000 within 18 months and 90% of those we support are small and medium-sized firms.”

“This extra investment will directly help businesses to travel abroad to showcase their products, find more customers, and make the contacts they need to succeed. As we look to trade more with high-growth markets outside the EU, we want to ensure businesses have the .support they need to realise their full potential.”

The new investment comes as part of a drive by Government to boost exports for UK firms and achieve its ambitions to:

•Double UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020
•Get 100,000 more companies exporting
•Increase the proportion of companies that export from one in five to one in four, the European average

The £13 million investment will be funded by under spend from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills’ annual budget for 2011/12.