The event, which took place earlier this week (26 April) at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness, was the latest move by HIE to develop greater global ambition in the region and to embed an international mindset across business owners in the Highlands and Islands.
Open to businesses from all sectors, the event focused on advising businesses about successfully trading in Germany. Attendees were provided with an overview of the market, its opportunities and support available from HIE and its partner Scottish Development International, plus routes to market including finding an agent, distributor or partner.
As the fourth largest export market for Scotland, Germany has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than €3 trillion. This makes it the largest economy in Europe and the fourth strongest economy in the world. There is a strong appetite for important Scottish sectors such as technology, engineering, life sciences, creative and digital services and HIE is urging Scottish businesses to capitalise on this.
Keynote speakers at the event included Johannes Augustin, regional manager for Central Europe and Nordics at Scottish Development International. Augustin provided a market overview and spoke of sectoral opportunities available to businesses. Other speakers included Stewart Miller, export adviser of Scottish Development International; Michelle Hardie, European business services manager of Enterprise Europe Network and head of international trade at Inverness Chamber Ewan Ramsay.
One Highlands business to have benefited from such support from HIE in the past is Dolphin Spirit, a newly accredited 5-star boat trip situated in Inverness Marina. The company, which offers passenger trips on purpose-built boats to visit the dolphins in the Moray Firth, received grant funding from HIE to take part in VisitScotland’s Business Development Mission following support from HIE’s export advisory service.
Yvette Hogan, managing director of Dolphin Spirit, said: “The support available through HIE has been invaluable to our business as we look to grow, both in the UK and international markets. We’ve received practical, trustworthy advice on how best to sell our services overseas, and we were able to the put the knowledge into practice during the business development mission to Hamburg and Stuttgart last year when we met with local operators to gain a better understanding of the German market.
“With the help of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Dolphin Spirit is able to showcase to the international market the best that the Scottish Highlands and islands have to offer.”
Businesses aiming to expand into trade with Germany could also benefit from a market visit to Germany in June 2018.
Supporting increased internationalisation across the business base is a priority for HIE, with further support available from HIE’s export advisory service to help businesses develop and progress their export plans more rapidly. HIE is currently running a series of free workshops advising on Selling Online Internationally in locations across the region.
Martin Johnson, HIE’s regional head of international trade, commented: “With a wealth of opportunity and a strong demand for Scottish expertise, the German market is an ideal target for businesses in the Highlands and Islands looking to develop international trade links.
“At Highlands and Islands Enterprise, we can provide the support, information, advice and funding to grow your business through overseas trade and target Germany in particular. We would encourage businesses of all sizes in the region to sign up to capitalise on the opportunities that lie in the German market.”
This week’s event was delivered by HIE in partnership with Scottish Development International (SDI) with support from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).