Driving international SME growth through digital fund disbursement | #techUKDigitalTrade
When unveiling the £370m Science and Technology Framework, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed he wanted to cement the country’s place as a global science and technology superpower by 2030. To do this, SMEs need to be able to grow and pursue international expansion, whether through exporting, franchising, acquisition, or setting up foreign subsidiaries. A recent report from the start-up growth network Tech Nation called for ‘tangible support’ for the UK’s tech ecosystem, which it estimates could help quadruple the industry’s value to $4tn by 2032.
There are many pathways to international growth; while some SMEs may choose to expand one market at a time, others opt for regional expansion, taking advantage of cultural similarities and free trade agreements. Whatever their approach, they face common challenges in terms of their scale, scope of export plans, availability of existing business resources and complexities in choosing the right partners to support their journey.
To overcome these challenges, SMEs need to be able to access the right advice on entry, intellectual property, language and cultures, as well as international trade law and regulatory requirements. All of this requires additional funding which is where the government can help.
Supporting growth through access to funding
Applying for additional funding can help SMEs to overcome tangible barriers to internationalise their business and enter new markets. Capita has worked with public fund providers to support SMEs to grow by managing and facilitating access to co-investment grants.
The funding has been used to support a wide range of activities, including accessing the advice and professional services SMEs need to prepare for and enter new international markets, or support the market research and PR, social media and search engine optimisation that is needed to generate awareness in broader markets.
In our role as fund administrator, we have focused on removing barriers to applying for funding by designing a simplified, digital process and introducing automation with a centralised digital grants management platform. This has made it simpler for SMEs to apply for and access funds. To ensure consistency and efficiency we can digitally manage everything from application to payment, which reduces administration costs. We find that co-designing services with government buyers leads to much richer, fit-for-purpose, solutions that best support all stakeholders’ objectives.
Getting ready for international expansion
Once organisations have identified new markets, building an internationalisation strategy must start with the same core questions that every business must ask itself every day; What are we trying to achieve and how are we going to be successful? External experts can help provide the advice to keep businesses moving in the right direction, which is it is important that funding schemes are supported by Fund Advisors, who can relentlessly focus on objectives, resources and help ensure a viable plan is put in place. As part of our fund management service, we have helped International Fund Advisors in real-time, via online email and telephone assistance.
By providing easy access, straightforward processes and relevant support to SMEs we have delivered powerful innovation in digital grant disbursement and ensured that funding has reached businesses simply and easily. And while more schemes are needed to support growth, our digital processes have already helped 7,600 SMEs to access funding that is now helping them to internationalise.
To learn more about the approach that government can take to digitise trade contact Elise Elan, [email protected]