Only 10% of successful applicants receive full grant for overseas tradeshows

Only 10 per cent of the two to three thousand successful applicants to the government’s overseas tradeshow support programme will receive a full £4,000 grant, guidance documents show.

Another 30 per cent of businesses that meet the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) criteria will receive £2,000, which can be put towards the cost of preparing for and attending overseas exhibitions. The remaining successful applicants will be offered four hour-long online training modules delivered by the government’s Export Academy on how to make use of trade fairs, as well as some advice on the specific one selected. In addition, some applicants will be offered £200 to cover travel to European shows or £500 for shows outside Europe.

The £7.9 million support scheme started as a pilot last November with the aim to “educate UK-based small and medium-sized enterprises about the benefits of exhibiting at overseas trade shows”. It replaced the longstanding Tradeshow Access Programme, which provided grants of between £500 and £2,500, largely administered by industry trade bodies.

In guidance to the new scheme the DIT stated that its support for trade show exhibitors was open to businesses with between £250,000 and £5 million in sales. Businesses looking for support to send sales reps to attend events have to be smaller, between £85,000 and £250,000 in revenues.

Read the full specification of requirements for exhibitors

The government support is only available once and applicants found to be planning to “offshore jobs”, which some exporters to Europe have done to avoid the higher cost of servicing European customers from Britain post-Brexit, will be unsuccessful. The choice of trade shows is limited to only those approved by the DIT.

At the time of writing there were seven approved trade fairs for exhibitors and thirty-two for delegates on the website.

Trade bodies had called on the government to create “truly world class” trade show support. The Federation of Small Businesses pointed to a Canadian government scheme, which offers C$75,000 (£44,000) in grant funding for a broad range of export-readiness related costs.

James Sibley, the federation’s head of international affairs, said its members had recently voiced concerns on a webinar with Mike Freer, the exports minister, about the limited number of approved trade fairs. “If you can get a viable small business to the right trade show it really delivers benefits. They play an important part in the journey to being a fully fledged exporter,” he said.

He added that the need for the DIT to make the trade show programme as comprehensive and accessible as possible was pressing, “even more so now we’ve left the EU and are striking new trade deals around the world. We’re in a global race, and we want UK firms, products, and services at the forefront.”

A DIT spokesman said the new programme was ambitious and would “help our brilliant exporters in every part of the UK take full advantage of the trade deals we negotiate”. He added: “We are supporting a range of tradeshows to help businesses exhibit their first-class products overseas, but this is just the start and we are adding more and more events to our programme to help businesses kickstart their export journey.”

Source: The Times

1st February 2022

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