Belfast Telegraph

Helping hand extended to help companies exporting

By David Elliott

Companies with an eye on overseas markets have only a few days left to make sure they are in with a chance of a helping hand.

This Friday marks the closing date for applications for the International Export Challenge, a joint competition run by Invest NI and British Airways.

Firms which haven't sold goods or services outside Northern Ireland before, and those which are exporting but want to break into new markets, have the chance of winning flights, as well as accommodation and market research.

It will provide the support for five companies which can identify potential sales in new international markets.

They 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 to 249 staff).

Brenda Morgan, British Airways partnership manager for Northern Ireland, said: "We would encourage all small and medium sized companies that are considering exporting for the first time, or extending into new markets, to enter the competition.

"The export market is key to Northern Ireland's development and growth and with British Airways' six daily flights from Belfast City to London Heathrow, we can connect businesses to our extensive worldwide network of almost 130 destinations worldwide from London Heathrow – making doing international business easier than ever before."

Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI chief executive, said: "Research shows that companies focused on exporting achieve faster, more profitable and sustainable growth. The aim of the International Export Challenge is to encourage companies to define their export strategy and gain valuable assistance in exploiting it. With the opportunity to win free flights, accommodation and expert in-market support to help boost sales abroad it really is a competition worth entering."

Belfast Telegraph