Healthcare – UK manufacturer taking first steps towards European exports…

Question

Greetings all…..

My company manufactures a range of patient specific hoisting slings for hospital use, which are ‘disposable’ in the sense that they are unique to specific patients and are disposed of at the end of their stay in hospital. They are an essential weapon in the fight against hospital acquired cross-infections such as MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and C.diff (Clostridium difficile). With a low unit cost, they are also a proven budget-friendly alternative to expensive laundering and replacement.

In the UK, we are an established and accredited supplier to the NHS, but we are looking to extend our activities to European exports, through a Distributor network.

Can anyone please advise on how best to take our first steps towards exporting to Europe, particularly EC countries? How can I find out about events, exhibitions, trade missions, etc to target markets?

In the UK, these products are marketed on a hospital-by-hospital basis – but does this approach differ in the different overseas markets?

I would very much like to hear from interested parties and would welcome input……

Best regards,
Colin Frankland

Answer

Dear Colin

Thank you for your enquiry. We can certainly help you finding a distributor in Belgium for your hoisting slings. We do this through our OMIS (Overseas Market Introduction Scheme) this is a chargeable service whereby we contact companies on your behalf to find out whether they are interested in representing you on the Belgian market. This service can be ordered either direct from us or through my colleagues in your region. You may wish to contact Diane.Smedley@ukti.gsi.co.uk.
If you send me your email address I will let you have our explanatory brochure re OMIS.

I hope this helps

Kind regards

Nadine Vandenbroucke
UKTI Belgium

Answer

Dear Colin,

Thanks for your question.

As a starting place for entry into Europe, I would consider visiting Medica, the largest healthcare exhibition in Europe taking place from November 14-17th 2012 (www.medica-tradefair.com). UKTI does have a presence at the exhibition and this is organised in conjuction with ABHI (http://www.abhi.org.uk/export/exhibitions/medica/medica.aspx). Sites for exhibiting are usually booked up earlier in the year, however it would be a good idea to have a chat with someone at ABHI to see if anything else is available. If nothing else, at least spending a day or two walking around the exhibition (you really need a week !!) will give you an idea of the competition as well as an opportunity to meet with UKTI commercial officers that will be UKTI stand.

As you will be aware each market operates in it’s own unique way and therefore the purchasing system will be quite different. Another area you will need to check is that your product is CE marked. In most cases this is accepted in the majority of EU markets, but some might have some additional regulatory requirements – just worth checking at least.

I hope this gives you something to start on, but please come back onto the forum or email if you need any further help.

Kind regards,

Anil Vaidya
UKTI Life Science Specialist (Far East & Asia Pacific)
anil.vaidya@uktispecialist.com

Answer

There are 2 places I would signpost you to as you start to consider exporting your product into new European Markets. Firstly, Invest NI. This agency is committed to supporting the growth of businesses within Northern Ireland. Part of their website is dedicated to ‘Selling outside Northern Ireland’ and includes details on how they can help both in terms of practice advice and financial support, link below. This site also carries details of events as well that you may want to consider attending.

http://www.investni.com/index/selling.htm

The second key area I would urge you to consider is to approach a bank(s) and speak to their overseas Trade Specialist and get a feel for the support and guidance they will be able to provide. Banks that have dealt with your target countries will be privy to large amounts of information and their years of experience will be invaluable in ensuring you put in place the right type of facility to allow you to trade both safely and quickly.

The very best of luck to you – feel free to contact me if I can be of any further help.

Chris Lynch
Director Trade Finance
Santander Corporate Banking
Santander UK plc
christopher.lynch@santander.co.uk

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