Thu 27th Feb 2014
SME’s Report Improved Attitude to Cross Border Business
Gateways to Growth Results Published
70% of SME’s surveyed as part of the Gateways to Growth Programme have a better attitude to doing business on a cross border basis, according to figures published today by Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce.
SME’s from the border counties and Northern Ireland were surveyed following their participation on the EU Gateways to Growth programme – a collaborative EU INTERREG IVA funded cross border project involving large scale Meet the Buyer events and skills development workshops targeted at SME’s keen to develop cross border trade.
The project is delivered by Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the COMET Councils in Northern Ireland, Dundalk Chamber of Commerce and Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce and is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.
Participants said that as a direct result of the programme they have more confidence in doing cross border business with 70% saying their attitude has improved. Participants were surveyed six months after completing the programme.
In total 342 new connections were made between participants with each company reporting an average of four new connections. This translated into 16 new clients for 64% of participants.
68% of participants reported an increase in turnover in the last six months while 78% reported an increased confidence in their ability to export.
Gateways to Growth Project Manager Martina Crawford says, “The ultimate aim of the Gateways to Growth project is to encourage the target companies to supply, buy, network and assist in their growth and development by providing the opportunity to develop their skills set to export in what are viewed as nearby low risk markets.
“With 24% of our participants having entered a new market in the last six months since completing the Gateways to Growth programme, it demonstrates that education, networking, sales skills and bringing cross border companies together in one room can have immediate but significant positive impacts on SMEs and the wider economies of the island of Ireland.”
Three participating companies interviewed by Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce have all had gateways to new business open to them as a result of participating in the programme. O’Donnell’s Craft Bakery in Donegal is in talks to expand into large retail multiples across Northern Ireland; Trailer Vision based in Ardee, Co. Louth has brought its reversing technology into the agri and aircraft sectors in Northern Ireland, while Cutting Industries based in Dunmurry are now actively working with med-tech companies in Sligo. All three stories are evidence of the business expansion and confidence of SME’s into cross border markets.
Mark Smiley is Managing Director of Cutting Industries. He is actively working with two Sligo-based med-tech companies he was introduced to through the Gateways to Growth programme.
Despite having a strong hold of the NI market, Mark admits that the ROI market had been sluggish at best for Cutting Industries. “We knew there was massive potential in the medical device sector in Republic of Ireland for us but we didn’t have the confidence to chase it. We knew we needed to exploit it hence our participation on the Gateways to Growth programme which immediately gave us introductions to potentially lucrative clients.”
Cutting Industries is now working with StableLab and Verus Precision in Sligo – companies at the cutting edge of the med-tech sector in Ireland and globally.
Mark says the future looks bright with cross border business being his key focus. “We can and will expand our market share in the Republic of Ireland. The companies we have been introduced to as a result of Gateways to Growth are exceptionally forward-thinking and are targeting worldwide markets and we can be a pivotal part of their business journey.”
Further information on Gateways to Growth can be found at www.gatewaystogrowth.co.uk