Businesses in the Highlands and Islands are encouraged to take advantage of business opportunities in Ireland at a free event in Inverness this month.
Ireland is the UK's fifth largest export market and the UK's largest export market in sectors such as food and drink, fashion and footwear.
The half-day event is organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in partnership with Scottish Development International (SDI) with funding from the European Social Fund. It will help businesses find out about the opportunities that exist in the Irish market and the support available through the Smart Exporter international trade skills programme.
Held in Eden Court, Inverness on Tuesday 17 April, a range of experts will be on hand with one to one support and advice sessions for small businesses at any stage of exporting - from those thinking about exporting for the first time to more established exporters. The event can be accesses from around the Highlands and Islands live via the internet.
The Irish Republic hosts nine of the top ten global pharmaceutical companies and seven of the top ten global information and communications technology companies.
Business opportunities exist in a range of sectors in the country with growth areas including ICT, Pharma, Life Sciences and Agrifood industries.
Experts attending include Rebecca Wardell from UK Trade and Investment in Dublin; Ilona Warburton from Enterprise Europe Scotland; and Ulster Bank and accountants RSM Farrell Grant Sparks.
Also presenting is Stewart Miller, brand and business development manager from Moray based Tio Ltd who has a background in international trade. The company is the exclusive supplier of organically grown root vegetables to Tesco UK. He said: "It is vital that businesses think strategically, access up-to-date market research and also visit the target markets. There is also good support available from HIE and SDI which can include SDI-organised market visits and a strong Scottish presence at trade shows, to help you get out there and meet prospective clients. I have met a lot of businesses from outside Scotland who are very envious of our support structure here."
Understanding the market is important in finding business and that is where agency support can be crucial. HIE and its international partner SDI have access to networks around the world.
Laura Robertson, of HIE, says the Irish market is one which could be attractive to many businesses in the Highlands and Islands. She said: "For many companies Ireland is an ideal starter market to begin their exporting activities. There are opportunities across a range of sectors and many Highlands and Islands companies are already finding new markets in the country. Whether you are a small company new to exporting, or an established exporter, this event provides an ideal opportunity to learn more, increase your market knowledge and take part in one-to-one clinics with specialists and commercial advisers.
If anyone is interested in exploring whether they could do business with Ireland then they should come along."
The event will be held in Eden Court from 9:30am to 1:30pm and will be followed by pre-booked one to one meetings between businesses and advisers.
To arrange access to webinar, and for full details and a booking form visit: www.hie.co.uk/businessinireland