UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has received £9mn in funding from the UK government to help boost trade opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

UKTI received £13mn in total to help more companies make contacts and sell to overseas markets, the majority of which has been allocated to the SME sector.

The new government funding will allow SMEs to attend trade shows abroad. It will also provide substantial discounts on the UKTI’s Overseas Market Introduction Service, which provides market research to help businesses find their first contacts overseas.

In addition, increased support will be given for travel on overseas trade missions, UKTI says in a statement
£2.5mn will be invested in helping firms access and win high-value opportunities that UKTI has identified globally, and a further £1.5mn will be used for projects, including support for UKTI’s inward investments into the UK economy.

UK business secretary Vince Cable says: “One of our major ambitions for growth is to boost UK exports: we have to excel in trade. SME enterprises are crucial to this challenge – over half of the monetary value of the UK’s exports comes from SMEs.”
“We anticipate that over 10,000 businesses will benefit from the additional funding, moving us closer to our ambition of getting 100,000 more businesses exporting British goods and services around the world.”

“UK trade and investment minister Lord Green adds: “UKTI intends to double the number of companies it helps to 50,000 by 2015. We know that our help can have a transformative effect on businesses. On average, companies that work with UKTI go on to win additional sales of £100,000 within 18 months and 90% of those we support are small and medium-sized firms.”
The new investment comes as part of a drive by the UK government to boost exports for UK firms and achieve its ambitions to double UK exports to £1tn by 2020, get 100,000 more companies exporting, and increase the proportion of companies that export from one in five to one in four, the European average.

Meanwhile, British high street bank Metro Bank has partnered with the GrowthAccelerator initiative – a UK government-backed scheme designed to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Under the GrowthAccelerator initiative, businesses are assisted with raising money, implementing a business development strategy or bringing a new product to the market.

Craig Donaldson, chief executive of Metro Bank says: “Metro Bank is dedicated to supporting Britain’s SMEs. Research has proven that high-growth firms make up just 7% of all UK firms – yet they generate around half of all new jobs and show particular resiliency during recession.”

He adds: “It’s our responsibility to ensure that these firms have the support and the access to credit they need to expand. Over half of all Metro Bank’s lending is to SMEs and commercial enterprises. Businesses want to borrow from us because our common sense, relationship-based approach to credit decisions means that we judge each business on its individual merit.”