David Coppock, head of regions North East, Department for International Trade
David Coppock, head of regions North East at the Department for International Trade (DIT) discusses exporting from the North East to Northeastern US.
The North East of the US and the North East of England have rather more similarities than you might think. Both regions have a rich maritime tradition, a history of trade by sea and entrepreneurial local communities that form the backbone of their local economies. In more recent decades each of these regions have also had to respond to a decline in industry and manufacturing by refocusing their economies towards technology.
For the past four years, the Department for International Trade (DIT) has been hosting highly successful trade missions to Boston for north east businesses, introducing local firms to new customers, suppliers and partners, reinvigorating the strength of relations between the two regions.
On a mission
Boston sees more than its fair share of innovative and disruptive start-ups. It’s become a magnet for venture capital investors, eager to find the next high-growth success story. That all translates into a wealth of opportunity for North East firms to develop trade and collaboration opportunities.
This year, DIT accompanied a record 28 firms from the Northern Powerhouse regions on its trade mission to Boston - a thriving business, research and education centre. These annual missions hold lots of opportunity for firms in the life sciences, pharmaceutical, healthcare and digital sectors. Law firm, Womble Bond Dickinson, also supported the trade mission by providing meeting rooms for briefings in the UK and hosted an evening reception for delegates ahead of the trip.
Newcastle-based Hedgehog Lab, a global digital software builder, works with the likes of Santander and Microsoft to create apps. Visiting Boston in person allowed the business to build relationships face-to-face with industry leaders and meet potential buyers working in these sectors.
Hedgehog Lab opened an office in Boston in 2015 after co-founder and managing director Sarat Pediredla, had visited the city with DIT. It was here Sarat met with potential buyers and discovered the benefits of having an office on the ground.
Hedgehog has since been named one of the fastest-growing businesses in Europe by Inc. Magazine’s annual list of top 5,000 privately held small companies. The firm also recently announced its intentions to launch a new division focused on developing new products that incorporate artificial intelligence.
Another firm that has benefitted from the trade mission is Newcastle-based Ramarketing PR. Founded in 2009 by Raman Segal, the firm provides specialist public relations and marketing communications services for clients in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries.
Ramarketing PR opened a Boston office in October after joining the trade mission to Boston in 2016 to identify potential new US partners. Here, the business met representatives from global US pharmaceutical companies looking to meet European partners to support the growth of their subsidiaries outside of the US.
A platform for growth
After the mission, Ramarketing worked with DIT trade advisers based in Boston to continue developing relationships and establish its base in the city. This enabled it to overcome time-zone issues and provide first-hand support to its new US clients.
Exports to the US now make up a fifth of Ramarketing’s annual revenue, having grown by 50% since 2015.
Founder Raman Sehgal said: “Not only is the US the largest market in the world for the pharmaceutical industry, but Boston itself is one of the world’s leading life-science hubs.
“With our new Boston office, we’re in a strong position to continue to develop our US customer base, and I’m looking forward to seeing both our US and UK businesses grow as a result.”
Trade and collaborate
DIT can also provide briefings on the local business environment, share insight into what it takes to successfully enter the US market and make connections for UK firms with industry and innovation leaders, buyers and vendors.
DIT are in the unique position of having boots on the ground, so we can arrange one-to-one meetings with companies looking for relevant products and services, investment opportunities and strategic partnerships.
So, for North East firms with transatlantic ambitions, Boston beckons!
PD Ports Northern Powerhouse Export Awards, in association with HSBC and the Department for International Trade, seeks to recognise the most entrepreneurial exporters from across the North of England.
For more info visit www.northernexportawards.co.uk.
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