USA Top Target for UK Digital SMEs

UK Digital SMEs Interest in Overseas MarketsThe USA remains the top destination for UK-based companies targeting overseas markets.

The Digital Mission UK tour was revealing for lots of reasons, whether the number of fantastic companies up and down the country, the challenges they face (raising money, access to customers) and that it's possible to eat your own bodyweight in Jaffa cakes if you're stuck in a car for long enough.

Of the 376 companies who registered for the series of events in Belfast, Bristol, Birmingham (all the B's), Manchester, Newcastle and London, 47% cited the USA as a market they were interested in targeting.

Respondents also indicated a strong interest in both the Indian and Chinese markets, unsurprisingly with steady GDP growth and broadband/mobile users. The latest figures from China alone show 338m Internet users, with estimates between 25-30% market penetration compared to around 75% in the West.

Chinwag is working closely with UK Trade & Investment on two initiatives to help digital SMEs enter these markets:

  • Digital Missions - trade missions designed specifically for the digital sector
  • Expo Grants - subsidised stands at tradeshows in the US and China

A series of events across the UK is being planned this Autumn to provide more information about the opportunities in India and China. Sign-up to the Digital Mission newsletter or follow @digitalmission Twitter for more info.


Do you think that companies

Do you think that companies in this country should be looking at opportunities first in Europe, then trying to get into US, Indian and Chinese markets? 

Brazil, China, India, US

Europe is geographically closer, but bear in mind of the single markets. For each European country there's at least one new language to deal in. For each of the the massive emerging markets mentioned above, there's a single market which is either established or showing remarkable growth.

Whilst the initial barriers might be higher, there's help, for UK firms at least, from the likes of UK Trade & Investment in surmounting these. Check out the Digital Missions and Expo Grants for just a couple of examples.

International opportunities

In theory Yes, but in reality companies do not take a linear approach to scaling overseas in response to the challenges involved in operating in international markets, especially in more complex markets such as the US, India and China. One of the advantages of starting in Europe before entering the US is that it gives one the opportunity to acquire and demostrate a practical experience of deploying one's service to an international market. Experience of adapting products / services for the European market and responding to regularatory issues have the potentail to stand companies in good stead when it comes to the US. Indeed, some US companies instist on this before taking a UK company on.

The fact that US companies dictate the bases of competition in the digital, internet and ecommerce fields is one of the primary reasons for the interest in the States. If you are lucky enough to get your product bundled with a US enterprise solution service provider then you could be on your way to millions given their very large installed base of users. Let's also not forget the opportunity to collaborate and acquire key capabilities as a major driver for the US focus, especially from the the UK start up community which in a lot of respect presecutes iterative business models imported from the States.

We also need to remember that a lot of UK companies sample international markets, including the US, indirectly, without having to set foot into those markets. Where face to face contact is not a critical component of winning and retaining busines, it is right that UK businesses position themselves as internationally capable to absorb such work.

digitalbritain worries

I just worry that the contacts the SMEs build up in other countries will lapse when it is realised our connections here are too slow to compete. Unless we match fibre with fibre our infrastructure in the UK will be sadly lacking and we will be too slow compared to Korea, Singapore, Denmark, OZ, NZ etc. These countries are moving ahead with FttH, and the uk is gonna lag on ADSL for many years unless something is done. A lot of the SMEs are in rural areas of the UK, where many are still on ISDN lines, as no broadband is available.

Well Founded

@cyberdoyle, couldn't agree more. The report feels like it's made a step in the right direction be recognising that infrastructure development is urgently required with some substantial funding.

But there's no way it goes fast enough. If anything the ambition for broadband by 2012, will only put us where we need to be now rather than shooting for a much more ambitious target. Higher speeds will undoubtedly drive innovation. If we're playing catch-up up with India, China and South-East Asia, our industry's position on the world stage won't fare well.