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News & Press: International Trade News

10 inspiring SMEs shortlisted for prestigious national export prize

24 June 2016  
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10 dynamic businesses from across the UK have been shortlisted from over 40 companies for the UKTI-backed Open to Export Action Plan Competition.Each company will present the Export Action Plans they created using Open to Export’s innovative digital business planning tool to a panel of expert judges on 30th June in Liverpool at the International Festival for Business 2016 (IFB2016). They are competing for the chance to win £3,000 funding towards their overseas growth, as well as additional benefits including one year’s free membership of the Institute of Export.

The Export Action Plan Competition at IBF2016 – the world’s top business event – sees the finalists seeking to convince a high-powered judging panel that their business would benefit most from the prize.

Taking place across 13th June- 1sst July, IFB2016 is attended by more than 30,000 delegates from 100 countries. This week the e festival also received a special visit from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh who enjoyed a guided tour. As well as meeting delegates, her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh heard about some of the deals that have already been done by businesses as a result of IFB2016.

Boosting the UK’s SME exports 

Open to Export is the government funded digital route to boost the UK’s SME exports. The Export Action Plan tool is part of a website dedicated to helping new and inexperienced businesses prepare to sell internationally by giving them unlimited free access to information, support and advice.

As a founding partner of Open to Export, the IOE has played an instrumental role in supporting Open to Export’s digital Export Action Plan.

The free of charge and interactive step-by-step plan is the latest addition to Open to Export’s online offering. Steering SMEs in the right direction, it takes visitors through five key action points before producing a report they can take to trade advisors.

Using the Export Action Plan tool allows businesses to take ownership of their international trade strategy and make decisions along each step of their exporting journey – from selecting a market to delivering products or services to new customers. The Export Action Plan provides support in the form of prompts, useful resources and video and once complete, produces a report summarising answers and actions in an easy to read and shareable format which is perfect for sharing with international trade advisers or banks to better inform export planning conversations.

Shortlisted companies

A & R House Ltd, Somerset – produces raw materials for plant extractions

Business Development Midlands Ltd, Birmingham – provides specialist training for professionals and businesses

Cherith Harrison Ltd, Edinburgh – produces British animal-inspired gifts

Klik2Learn Ltd, Glasgow – digital design company specialising in education

Ops&Ops, Shoreditch – designs and produces 60s inspired footwear

Pop-ettes Ltd, Sussex – produces fun and original origami animal characters for greeting cards and gifts

PREA Ltd ®, Manchester – leading global consultancy specialising in the polymer chemicals and manufacturing industry

Prickly Thistle Scotland Ltd, Culbokie – designs and produces bespoke tartans inspired by individuals’ heritage

The Medical Stock Image Company, Surrey- aims to enhance the quality and availability of medical imagery through only using certified medical artists

West Berkshire Brewery, Berkshire – renowned for its award-winning range of traditional cask ales

 Valued sponsors 

The competition is sponsored by the International Festival for Business 2016 and Bibby Financial Services and the judging panel comprises Lesley Batchelor, OBE, director general of the Institute of Export, Mark Lindsay, Managing Director – Trade and International, Bibby Financial Services, James Cliffe, head of business banking at HSBC, Mark Lesniak at Great British Store, Ian Ballentine, director of procurement at Heathrow, and Mark Pountain, MD of previous Export Action Plan competition winner Charles Farris Candles.

Lesley Batchelor said: “We are committed to helping inexperienced exporters to broaden their horizons, and are delighted to support the thrice yearly Export Action Plan competition, where a panel of experts judge the finalists based on the potential and feasibility of their export plans. The winner will be awarded a cash sum of £3000 together with additional benefits in order to help them achieve their international trade goals.”

For additional information contact admin@opentoexport.com and check out Open to Export’s webinar on how to best use the tool.


Visit the IOE website for more information about our trainingqualifications and business membership, or contact us if you have any questions.