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Leeds City region overseas trade campaign set to export itself after interest from Riyadh

A Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) campaign to boost exporting looks set to go international itself after attracting observers from overseas.

Two delegates from the Saudi Export Programme based in Riyadh attended the latest We Are International networking event at Deloitte’s, Leeds, this week (June 2) on a fact-finding mission about the initiative after reading about it on the Web.

The two, Ziad A Alsabbaly and Talal S AlSalem, from The Saudi Fund for Development, which offers financial support for Saudi businesses wishing to export, took part in the two-hour event attended by more than 100 novice exporters and chatted with export advisers from UKI and Chamber International.

Ziad A Alsabbaly said: We’re grateful to have been able to attend and be made so welcome. An email about the We Are International initiative came to us and we asked if we could come to observe as it is such an interesting idea.

Our work is mainly to do with helping to get funds out to Saudi businesses which want to export and we will take what we have experienced back to Riyadh with a view to replicating elements of this campaign there.

The latest We Are International event – the fourth since March 2013 – focused on grants, funding and no-charge assistance for exporters and featured talks from UKTI Yorkshire and the Humber international trade manager, Philip Kelly, who discussed UKTI funding available for a range of activities including essential travel, market research and attending overseas trade shows./more…

Second speaker, Enterprise Europe Network Yorkshire manager, Jenny Lawson, explained support available through the European Structural and Investment Funds and Japan Insight, an initiative to support companies wanting to export to Japan.

Meanwhile a case study was provided by director and co-owner of Shipley-based Aquabirths, Ruth Weston who described how the company had gained funding and support from Yorkshire Innovation Fund for the development of a new birth pool heater.  Afterwards Ian Rowe of Yorkshire Innovation Fund described the services available from Yorkshire Innovation Fund which harnesses the expertise of 11 universities in Yorkshire.

LEP Board member and managing director of Shipley-based Radio Design, Eric Hawthorn, said: Our We Are International campaign is already well regarded nationally by central government, and I am delighted that it’s now getting attention internationally, as shown by the interest from Saudi Arabia in setting up something similar.

This interest again shows that momentum around the campaign is really gathering pace. I was particularly pleased, at this event, to hear from Ruth Weston of Aquabirths, whose outstanding success shows the benefits companies can gain from a little specialist support.

My own company has similarly benefitted, and I would urge other firms looking for growth opportunities to find out about the wide range of support available to make exporting easier.

The We are International initiative – delivered by the LEP with international trade specialists Chamber International, UKTI Yorkshire and Humber, Enterprise Europe Yorkshire, MY Export Hub and Yorkshire Universities – aims to add £1.6bn to the City Region economy and create thousands of jobs during the next five years.

Leeds City Region is the largest economic area in the country outside London, covering the 10 local authority areas of, Barnsley Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York.

To link in with growing interest from the Middle East and the visit from The Saudi Fund for Development, Dubai: Gateway to The Gulf is being held at Broughton, North Lincolnshire on July 17 as part of the Overseas Business Network initiative (OBNi) to support businesses develop trade in UAE. Two further OBNi events are being staged by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership before the end of the year.

The regularity of We Are International export network events is now being stepped up with the fifth being held in Leeds on July 4 as part of the International Festival of Business arranged around the Tour de France Grand Depart.

(L to R) are: Talal S AlSalem and Ziad A Alsabbaly from The Saudi Fund for Development, which offers financial support for Saudi businesses wishing to export, with senior advisor at Chamber international, Mike Strawson, who chaired the latest We Are International networking event in Leeds which they attended with a view to replicating the initiative in Riyadh.

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