Competition aims to open world markets
Global markets are the glittering prize in a new competition aimed at boosting exports by sending Northern Ireland's business people overseas.
Companies which haven't sold their goods or services outside Northern Ireland before, and those which are already exporting but want to break into new markets, have the chance of winning flights, as well as accommodation and market research.
Backed by Invest NI and British Airways, it will provide the support for five companies which can identify potential sales in new international markets.
The five winning companies will each receive:
* Free market research conducted by Invest NI for the selected market,
* Two return flights to the market from British Airways,
* Free accommodation for up to four nights while in market for a maximum of two visits,
* Support to arrange and execute a market visit schedule.
The competition has three categories: inexperienced exporter; small company (less than 50 employees) and medium company (51-249 employees).
The competition was launched by Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI chief executive, and Brenda Morgan, British Airways partnership manager for Northern Ireland.
"By joining forces with British Airways to offer a tailored package of advice, flights and accommodation, we hope to encourage more businesses to look to international markets to help their business grow," Mr Hamilton said.
Brenda Morgan said that connectivity to global markets is central to BA's role in Northern Ireland.
"We are delighted to be working with Invest NI on this exciting competition to offer local companies the opportunity to grow export markets," he said.
To enter, companies must complete an application form, which includes export plans and rationale for the approach taken.
Full details of the competition, the prizes and the terms and conditions are available on the website www.investni.com/exportchallenge.
The closing date for applications to the competition is 4pm on Friday, February 21.