Companies across south Hampshire are benefitting from specialised export advice regarding Kuwait.
The Middle Eastern country is one of UK’s historic and strategically important trading partners, with a population of around 4.2m.
Latest official figures state that the UK exported £562m of goods to Kuwait in 2013 and £536m worth of services in the previous year.
Martin Hall, chief executive of the Kuwait British Business Centre (KBBC), working in association with UK Trade & Investment, held a series of meetings with interested entrepreneurs at innovation centres operated by Oxford Innovation, an UKSPA member, in the Solent region.
The drop-in sessions were held at Fareham Innovation Centre, by Daedalus airport, Lee-on-the-Solent.
They were organised by the centre’s innovation director, Richard May, who previously set up a business in Kuwait and lived there for nearly five years.
One of the attendees was centre occupier Peter Eales of MRO Insyte, which specialises in the maintenance, repair and operations environment, such as factory spares at warehouses, across the world.
The firm, run and owned by Peter, was recently awarded a contract by the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Commerce and Industry to visit manufacturing plants and benchmark inventory efficiencies and international standards for the Kingdom.
Peter said: "There is clear potential in Kuwait. Martin at KBBC provided interesting insights into how MRO Insyte can get a foothold and I will be looking to explore further."
Richard said: "A number of our customers took advantage of KBBC's knowledge - Martin talked them through the benefits and challenges of doing business with Kuwait.
"One of the key roles of the innovation centres run by Oxford Innovation is to help our customers access on-the-ground expertise in countries they want to do business in; Martin's sessions were an example of this service."
Martin said: "KBBC was established to make it easier for UK companies to do business in Kuwait, through the provision of practical support, local market research, agent, distributor or joint venture partner matching, and other services, including a place to work from in Kuwait City, the capital.
"Kuwait welcomes business from the UK and there are already more than 100 UK companies, franchises and companies with agents operating in the country.
"They include familiar names such as Shell, BP, Boots, Harvey Nichols, Coffee Republic, Mulberry and Waitrose, and there are around 6,000 British nationals living in Kuwait.
"The export of services is a growing area, particularly in consultancy and financial services transactions, and there is no reason why relevant occupiers at Oxford Innovation's centres cannot be part of this international trade success story."
KBBC is able to navigate local businesses through the Foreign Direct Investment process with colleagues at the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority.
KBBC can also help set up a business or branch in Kuwait, and thereby the Gulf region, with 100% foreign ownership, 10-year tax breaks and exemption from tax and custom duties on imports required for the purposes of direct investment.
Business trips to Kuwait from start to finish, including arranging visas and travel, are also organised by KBBC.
Fully-occupied Fareham Innovation Centre, which has 15 workshops and 24 offices, is run by Oxford Innovation on behalf of Fareham Borough Council, which owns the building.
Companies at the centre include luxury carbon bikes designer LIOS, marine training provider Bachmann Training, Psion, a provider of structural integrity solutions for the Ministry of Defence, Iris Innovation, which manufacturers and distribute maritime security and leisure cameras, Constructex, maritime civil engineers, oil and gas research-based product designer 3-Sci and Britten-Norman, a British aircraft manufacturer and aviation services provider.
Oxford Innovation, the UK’s leading provider of innovation centres, specialises in running facilities which combine office space and full business support for start-up and early-stage firms.
Other Oxford Innovation-run centres in Hampshire are Ocean Village Innovation Centre in Southampton and Portsmouth Technopole.
Main UK goods exports to Kuwait include: