Following the first-ever Northern Powerhouse trade mission to Atlanta, David Coppock, head of regions (North East) at the Department for International Trade, explains why tech firms in the region should consider exporting their expertise to the southern USA.
Situated in the “Peach State”, Atlanta, Georgia is proving to be a ‘fruitful’ destination for local firms looking to find new markets for their IT expertise.
The city has the tenth-largest GDP in the US, nineteenth-largest in the world and, according to the University of Georgia, the state’s economic growth will outpace that of the wider US for the sixth straight year in 2019.
Atlanta also boasts the headquarters of some of the world’s largest companies, including AT&T, CNN, The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot, and UPS.
It is also a major transport hub, acting as a gateway to the US for firms looking to export their products and services across the Atlantic. Atlanta International Airport is the busiest in the world by passenger volume and, though you can’t fly non-stop from Newcastle, there are direct flights departing every day from Manchester and Heathrow.
Furthermore, much like the North East, its Information Technology sector, from software development to data processing, is a significant new driver of growth in the region.
On a mission
To help more businesses from the North East develop export opportunities in Atlanta, the Department for International Trade (DIT) led a four-day trade mission for thirteen firms from across the Northern Powerhouse region from 18th to 21st March. Virgin Atlantic also provided travel support to the businesses including discounted flights via its direct service from Manchester to Atlanta.
The businesses included Business Transformation Associates, MYDRVR LIMITED / National Safety Passport Ltd, Blue Kangaroo, Park Smart Solutions, Boxmodel Digital Media Limited, SenServe Limited, Grid Smarter Cities, Waterstons, Layers Studio, Kindus Solutions Ltd, iPEGS Ltd, Word Nerds and The Sage Group.
This was the first DIT hosted mission to Atlanta from this region, but the appeal of this great American city is easy to understand for North East IT firms. The North East is home to the UK’s fastest growing tech cluster outside of London and it’s estimated that it's IT and digital sector will be worth an estimated £2.5 billion a year by 2020.
Once in Atlanta, delegates were briefed on the city’s economy and wider US business environment, met with in-market specialists and were introduced to potential customers and partners in the city. This gave them the opportunity to showcase their offering to US companies looking for investment opportunities and companies built around UK-owned products and services.
The DIT team was also able to help eligible SMEs access financial support towards the cost of flights and accommodation.
Profiting from ‘the Peach’
One firm that’s already ahead of the game is Skignz. The Middlesbrough-based app developer has built a smartphone app that uses geolocation and augmented reality to enable brands and individuals to create virtual signs in the sky, which can be viewed through your smartphone screen.
It can be used for everything from helping friends find each other at a music festival, to advertising stores and events.
Skignz’s US export journey began after it received support from local DIT International Trade Advisers to meet prospective US partners as part of a market introduction programme.
It now has an office in Atlanta, which has provided the base to forge a partnership with the Atlanta Braves, the city’s Major League Baseball team. The company has continued to work with DIT staff based in the city to target potential new customers in the US and Latin America.
For firms interested in exploring the potential opportunities of trading overseas, DIT can provide vital background about the local business environment and insight into potential legal and regulatory hurdles. We would urge you to get in touch with us now and see how we can help.
DIT is in the unique position of having teams based in cities across the USA and the world, so we can arrange one-to-one meetings with companies looking for products and services like yours, as well as investment opportunities and fruitful business relationships.
For North East firms looking for business growth and resilience, exporting might just be the answer.
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