Far from Brexit creating a sense of doom and gloom for SMEs wanting to export, leaving the EU could provide opportunities to sell to emerging markets. That, at least is the view of two economists who are setting up a project to bridge the gap between SMEs and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), which provide a link between local authorities and businesses.
Catherine Cai, who is senior lecturer in Strategy and International Management at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) said: “We are trying to see the silver lining of Brexit and there a lot of opportunities for SMEs to export to non-EU countries, but they need support.
“The LEPs provide a network for SMEs to meet and learn from each other and this is very important, because most of these firms don’t have experience of exporting to countries like China or India.”
Along with colleague Dr Rekha Nicholson from Newcastle University London, which is leading the project, Cai is in the planning stages of an activity involving work with two LEPs.
Cai says SMEs in the UK often think locally and either tend not to think about exporting or, if they do, invariably consider European countries. Exporting to emerging markets like the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China and South Africa) is still quite a new idea.
By developing working practices with the LEPs and providing workshops in the South West, the economists plan to help businesses think about how to penetrate and position themselves in these new markets. Their knowledge will also help companies understand the logistics of exporting and how to protect their intellectual property rights.
The project is set to begin at the end of 2017 and, initially lasting one year, will focus on two industries: creative and manufacturing.