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What are Scotland’s enterprise agencies doing to support exports?

Three delegates browsing through ScotExport 2018 programme

What are Scotland’s enterprise agencies doing to support exports?

Thanks to the success of ScotExport, more Scottish companies are accessing a wealth of resource on their doorstep to help them prepare for Brexit and grow their sales internationally.

ScotExport 2018, Scotland’s flagship international trade gathering held on 6 November, attracted record footfall this year. It was a unique opportunity for Scottish companies to not only connect with Scotland’s enterprise agencies and partners on home turf, but also to meet trade specialists from Scottish Development International’s overseas offices around the world.

Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation

MSP Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation leading the opening plenary

Growing Scotland’s exports

MSP Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation led the opening plenary at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre. He outlined the steps the Scottish Government is taking to provide the right environment to make exporting easier for companies, including:

  • A One Scotland approach working across Scotland’s enterprise agencies and partners
  • £20 million investment to deliver a new national export plan
  • A new Trade Board to boost the number of exporters, to help join up services and support and increase the number of exports to new markets
  • A new data-driven export performance monitor to better understand key sectors and markets
  • Easier access to export finance and ecommerce platforms
  • Help to leverage networks – both formal and informal, such as GlobalScot
  • Doubling of Scottish Development International’s presence across Europe to support companies in-market, with hubs in Dublin, Brussels, London, Paris and Berlin
  • £2 million investment in peer-to-peer support
  • Support to help business navigate through Brexit

If you’re a successful exporter and interested in helping shape Scotland’s export strategy, consider joining the Trade Board. Read Ivan McKee’s blog for more details

Friendly export advice at ScotExport 2018

All companies based in Scotland have access to free export advice

Tailored support

Following the thread of ‘Get set, Connect, Go global’, delegates had the chance to hear from 30 inspirational speakers from across industry, finance and legal sharing their experience, tips and advice – with ‘Get set’ sessions aimed at new exporters and ‘Go global’ sessions for more established exporters.

Brexit was obviously the hot topic on everyone’s lips and how businesses might be impacted. Typical questions were raised around import/export supply chain and potential challenges of customs declarations, duties and tariffs.

Amid the seminars, the delegate hub was the place to meet with specialist advisers around specific issues, tap into our wider networks and connect with likeminded companies

ScotExport 2018 Go global delegates

Prepare your business for Brexit

Delegates also had the chance to try out our Brexit self-assessment tool for the first time. If like many, you’ve not yet started planning for the impact of UK’s departure from the EU, it’s a good place to start. It will help you identify the issues you should consider when preparing for Brexit and signpost you to relevant support.

It’s “innovative, practical and easy to use” says Jamie Kerr, partner at Burness Paull LLP.

This new tool will help make sure you’re aware of the risks, rewards and challenges of the new economic landscape. It takes under 20 minutes to complete and get a tailored report with recommendations and suggested events, services and support available to your business.

“This is an excellent tool that my clients will find very useful,” Jamie explains. As well as being easy to access, it also suggests points for action which are tailored towards specific business needs. This is extremely helpful as it provides direction for business in the face of continued uncertainty and the tool acts as a much-needed prompt for businesses in Scotland to prepare for Brexit.”

Laura Birrell, MD Sticky Heelz speaking at ScotExport 2018

Laura Birrell, MD of Sticky Heelz, speaking at ScotExport 2018

What a difference a year makes

What inspired many on the day was Laura Birrell’s story. She’s the award-winning founder of the footcare accessory brand, Sticky Heelz. Frustrated that nothing on the market would stop here much-loved shoe slipping offer her feet, Laura decided to come up with her own patent pending solution. The product launched to market in December 2015.

Unsure of her next move, Laura explained: “I came to the event last year with a sense of apprehension, thinking is this the right event for me? Am I at the right stage of my business to be going to an event like this?”

Twelve months on and Laura has secured listings with Boots and Superdrug. Thanks to ongoing support, from ourselves and our partners, she’s now launching the product into the USA market and negotiating distribution into Canada and European markets.

Make it in Manhattan

Laura’s tip for new exporters is to “get to know your local market.”

Hot on the heels of her product launch, Laura did exactly that by joining the Glasgow Chambers of Commerce on their ‘Make it in Manhattan’ trade mission in 2016. This was a real turning point in Laura’s exporting journey.

Laura explains: “You’re getting to meet with retailers and individuals. And because it’s not in a sales environment, they’re much more open with you in terms of what they expect from you, when you’re making the approach to them. And the things you need to be mindful of.

“From my perspective, they were very much like – you need to have distribution in the US. You need to make sure you can source, supply and cash flow orders.”

Delegate hub at ScotExport 2018

Networking in the delegate hub at ScotExport 2018

The power of networks in building your global business

Following our ‘power of networks’ session, we caught up with Jane Coulthard who works for Interference Pattern, an animation studio based in Edinburgh. Here’s what she had to say:

“That was a really useful session today going through top tips for going abroad. And it's also fantastic to hear about the different agencies that work together that can help us with our growth plans.

“I think I’m an effective networker, but there's always more to learn. Particularly, we’re looking to expand internationally now and there’s a whole host of things to consider. I think I’m fine on home soil, but there's so many more preparations that need to be made before you even set your foot abroad.”

Support to scale up

“One of the things that we’ve done, obviously when you're a young company where we’ve got established credibility but we’ve not scaled yet, is we're working with Scottish Enterprise to do that. And working with SDI, we're off to Dublin for the St Andrew's Day celebrations to be part of that. So that’s something fantastic.

“I certainly recommend making the most of the services and asking around who can help with what.

“Thanks to the Scottish Enterprise by Design grant we've actually had our business redesigned because a lot of its been bolted on over the years. So, we did a strategic review and developing our brand was part of that, so we’re then ready to take that abroad.”

Get help to grow your exports

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