About European Business Solutions
Based at Warwick Science Park, at the University of Warwick, European Business Solutions (EBS) was launched in 1991 to help companies set up in the UK or support them if they wanted to export goods and services here.
It works exclusively with foreign-owned businesses in the UK and provides specialist business and administration support. The multilingual team of seven works closely with Embassies as well as the Department for International Trade (DIT) to help it access new markets.
EBS was keen to expand its services outside of Europe and had set itself challenging targets. After receiving a growing number of enquiries from businesses based in Latin America countries, it decided to focus its efforts on this market. Because the company had no connections with businesses there, it needed to start from the beginning – and that meant seeking support from DIT to enable it to visit the region and set up meetings with potential business clients.
How DIT helped
Working closely with its dedicated international trade adviser (ITA), EBS discovered that it was eligible for European Region Development Fund (ERDF) match funding that would help to fund its fact-finding mission. After applying for the funding, it received £2,000 – 50% of the costs of travelling to Argentina and Chile.
Martin Williams, founder and MD of EBS, said: “It’s very easy to email but nothing will replace actually speaking someone face to face if you want to do business with them. When we found out that we had got the ERDF funding, it helped us to make the decision about developing new markets and go out there. It was still a reasonable financial commitment for a small company as ours but we knew we should go for it.
Prior to a five-day visit to Argentina and Chile, it liaised with the DIT in Argentina, securing 32 face-to-face meetings, a speaking spot at a seminar for law firms that was taking place, and a meeting at an event that was organised in partnership with Santander.
Martin added: “We’d already worked with the Government departments over the years and had a good reputation in our market, so we kept those connections when the Department for International Trade was formed.
“DIT staff are excellent advisers and facilitators, but you cannot expect them to do all the work for you. This isn’t a free ride; you have to put in the effort yourself.”
EBS met a number of companies that were already looking to set up in the UK, but hesitated over the logistics, as well as businesses that were in the process of launching here. Following their meetings, EBS is now working with firms in the legal, investment, fashion, film and retail sectors to help them open in the UK. It is also actively following up other leads.
“We provide a practical solution to these businesses and reduce their risk, so for those who were hesitating, meeting with us helped to push them over the line,” said Martin.
“We got our money back within six weeks and believe we will reap up to ten times that of the cost of the trip. Not only that, we have helped to create inward investment in the UK, which means employment opportunities and people paying taxes.”