North East life sciences firms set their sights on the States

Export | North East

A number of businesses from the North East are set to benefit from new export opportunities in the US following a successful trade mission led by the Department for International Trade (DIT).

Representatives from LightOx in Newcastle, Micropore in Redcar and Prozomix in Haltwhistle joined the mission from March 2-6 which was headed up by Simon Crosby, Lead International Trade Adviser at DIT in the North East.

As part of DIT’s Northern Powerhouse trade missions programme, the delegates joined other companies from across the North of England to visit Washington DC and Atlanta where they met with potential buyers and gained expert insights into exporting to the US market.

During visits to the US National Institute of Health, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, delegates learned about opportunities for UK companies in the US’s the evolving life sciences and healthcare ecosystem.

The businesses were also given the opportunity to pitch their products and technological innovations to audiences of US healthcare providers and other companies active in the sector.

Sam Whitehouse said the mission had been an eye opener for his business LightOx, which is developing therapeutics based on fluorescent imaging to treat oral cancers: “The US market has always been a key target for life sciences companies such as ours.

“It is however a complex market to enter and understanding how to approach it is key. This mission with the DIT highlighted how to avoid the common pit-falls and introduced us to some excellent people who could help advise and assist with doing business in the country.

“Our visit to the National Institute of Health, which is one of the largest research organisations in the world, proved to be particularly interesting in understanding how research, product development and market entry are all supported in the USA.

“The DIT team on the ground supported us throughout our time on the visit and were world class in their professional approach, ensuring a seamless, high intensity week of meetings over three different states.”

Latest figures show that the UK’s annual medical technology exports are worth £3.5 billion, an increase of 7.3% on the previous year. The US is currently the largest overseas market for British medical technology, where a growing demand has seen exports increase by 9.6% over the past year to £652.5 million, which accounts for 18.8% of total UK medical technology exports.

Government analysis published earlier this month shows that the North East’s economy is expected to grow by up to £140 million as a result of a future UK-US free trade agreement.

The US is an important market for the North East, accounting for 8.4% of all North East goods exports. Almost 700 businesses in the North East collectively export £2,098 worth of goods to the US every minute.

The government is expected to begin trade talks with the US later this month.

Simon Crosby, Lead International Trade Adviser at DIT in the North East, commented: “The US market presents an enormous opportunity for North East businesses, and growing demand in the life sciences and healthcare sector means export growth is there for the taking.

“Last week’s mission has already generated some promising leads for the delegates, who we will continue to work with as they plot their next steps in the US.

“As the government prepares to begin formal negotiations with the US on a free trade agreement, our team of International Trade Advisers stands ready to help businesses of all shapes and sizes maximise their chances for export success in the US.”

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