Celebrating our exporting excellence
By UMi CEO, Nicki Clark OBE
The Northern Powerhouse doesn’t get its name from just anywhere, this was a reflection of the government’s vision for a super-connected, globally competitive northern economy with a flourishing private sector. The export community in northern England has long provided businesses with easy access to growth opportunities, scaling support and routes into some of the world’s fastest growing markets.
Despite recent economic challenges brought about by higher costs of trading, the UK’s exports of goods and services totalled £815 billion in 2022. The Northern Powerhouse regions, stretching across 11 Northern Local Enterprise Partnerships from Teesside in the east to Cumbria in the west and as far south as Cheshire and Humber make a significant contribution to this figure.
Trading internationally is a great way for the UK to show its wares on the global stage and we’re seeing emerging markets like machinery and transport equipment lead the way in export goods. In the north east, this is mirrored as we see traditional industries in decline and substantial machinery and transport along with financial services begin to account for a large part of the local economy’s growth.
These sectors are doing more for England’s north east than just bolstering the economy’s growth, with exporting helping business leaders to find new international customers and allowing them to become less dependent on domestic demand.
However, many find that the international trading system can appear complex at first, with multiple rules for individual countries to navigate. My advice to start-ups looking to grow in export? Do your research and scope out the opportunity available. There are several schemes and support networks available for those exporting in England which can be by your side on the journey including UMi Sat Nav, the Department for Business and Trade’s GREAT programme and UK Export Finance to name a few.
The Northern Powerhouse is recognised across the world as home to billions of pounds worth of exciting opportunities for international investors. If your business model has been successful here, chances are it could be successful in other countries, but we at UMi find that business leaders can be put off by perceived challenges, particularly those arising from a technology perspective. Recent reports have highlighted a lack of digital trading systems and digital documents available as a significant barrier for both aspiring and experienced exporters. The good news is that where there are pain points there are often solutions. There are several cloud-based supply chain management services, such as TradeTech, that can help tailor your customer journey to the rules and regulations of the country in hand and overcome some of the barriers to international trade.
Whether you are sending products and services overseas for the first time or are a seasoned exporter, being open to exploring new technology can help businesses adapt to a rapidly changing environment, including automating areas of your business such as single process systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP). UMi has helped hundreds of small businesses to access funding to access these technologies and will continue to support business owners to maximise their exporting potential.
Now is the time for the UK, and particularly northern businesses to celebrate their export successes. To recognise those business leaders who have achieved growth and are keen to inspire and stimulate future exporter growth we set up the Northern Powerhouse Export Awards, which take place in June in Middlesborough. Businesses across the Northern Powerhouse region will be recognised at the awards, taking their place amongst the best in the local export community.