International Trade Week: IOE and IT and UK Business Angels Association launch digital trade report

Thu 18 Nov 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
IOE News

The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) and the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) have today (Tuesday 16 November) published a report spotlighting innovation in the digitalisation of trade.

Entitled The Digitalisation of Trade: SMEs Driving Innovation , the report is being launched this evening at the IOE&IT’S London headquarters to coincide with the Department for International Trade’s International Trade Week.

Innovation acceleration

The report explores how a combination of factors, including the UK’s changing trading relationships, the Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain issues, have accelerated innovation in digital trade.

These factors have helped to focus the minds of many businesses and potential investors on finding better ways of trading internationally.

The Digitalisation of Trade: SMEs Driving Innovation follows the successful ‘Investing in Trade’ innovation showcase in October, co-hosted by the IOE&IT and UKBAA, that focused on start-up companies working to improve, modernise and revolutionise the trade space.

Those businesses that took part in the ‘Investing in Trade’ event are featured in the report and demonstrate the wide variety of ways in which UK start-ups are using technology to address industry’s pain points and create new opportunities.

Merging digital and trade

The report highlights how digitalising trade will increase efficiencies, reduce the cost of doing business and allow for more sustainable practices, as well as removing key barriers to entry to international trade hit by new and smaller companies.

When digital and trade are brought together, they have the potential to make exponential changes – a recent estimate by the International Chambers of Commerce suggested that the benefit could be as much as $9 trillion by 2026.


Marco Forgione, director general of the IOE&IT said: “Digitalisation is most often talked about in connection with trade as a transformative technology, something that will help traders to trade more efficiently, faster and compliantly. International trade is a force for good, transforming nations and communities. Digital technologies can help it do that on a fair and sustainable basis.”

He continued: “Digitalisation as a transformative technology is about the free flow of data and the integration of different actors’ systems through technology. Recent estimates have suggested the digitalising of trade could be worth up to $9 trillion to G7 economies by 2026.”

Investing in trade tech

The report highlights how investors know from experience that entrepreneurs have a different way of seeing the world and its issues, and are predisposed to generating innovative solutions. As a result, many large companies are setting up their own venture capital units to tap into the wealth of experience and innovation that entrepreneurs and early-stage companies bring to the table.

Support on funding

Oliver Finch, Investment Partner at Maersk Growth, and Mark Ling, Head of Trade and Supplier Finance at Santander, provide insight in how entrepreneurs can get the funding and support they need to develop their ideas.

Roderick Beer is managing director of UK Business Angels Association, the trade body for angel and early stage investing. He commented: “I am delighted to have partnered with the IOE&IT on this report, focusing in on where the opportunities are for SMEs when it comes to the digitalisation of the sector.”

‘Small today – but driving the future’

He added: “With over £2 billion invested every year into exciting, innovative, UK-based businesses, it is important to ensure a steady supply of risk capital into these early-stage businesses that, although small today, will drive the sector’s technological advancements of the future.

“Working closely with the investment community to build awareness of the opportunities that trade-supporting technologies present, will be key in ensuring a thriving base of innovators that will ultimately make the UK a better place from which to do business.”

You can download the report free of charge here