20/03/2003

Firms urged to win business via EU funded projects

As part of their range of programmes to support business development and to encourage more businesses to enter external markets and diversify their overseas presence, Invest NI is to allocate further financial resources to the International Tendering Fund.

Jim Sayers, Director of Knowledge Management at Invest NI, said: “The International Tendering Fund (ITF) was established to assist companies in Northern Ireland develop opportunities for major contracts outside the European Union. It is designed to share in the risks and rewards of preparing international competitive tenders, providing practical support to companies targeting major opportunities.

“As such, it forms part of our structured and strategic approach to export and trade development and is targeted towards supporting companies in manufacturing, construction or internationally tradable services to achieve success in global markets.”

Under the ITF, financial assistance of 50% of eligible expenditure up to a maximum of £30,000 per tender is available to support the costs associated with preparing, submitting and negotiating major international competitive tenders.

The International Tendering Fund was one of the European Union programmes discussed at a recent Invest NI seminar held to increase awareness of support to companies seeking to enhance their international export strategies. Representatives from companies from a variety of sectors from agri-business to marine and civil engineering heard of the opportunities available to contractors who undertake EU development-aid projects or participate in economic co-operation actions in developing regions around the world.

Keynote speaker, Seamus Jefferson of Bradley Dunbar Associates, said: “The EU is one of the world’s leading donors of humanitarian aid for disaster hit regions, spending some Euro 9bn outside the EU each year. There are a vast array of projects available for export-focused companies to participate in, ranging from providing infrastructure such as highways, power plants and irrigation systems to rural development projects, training, tourism, knowledge transfer, and support for small business.”

Leading engineering company Rotary International accessed support from ITF to help them tender for work for which they would not previously have been considered, including a contribution towards tender preparation costs for a new hospital project in Malta and a commercial housing development in Alexandria, Egypt.

Ray Auld, Marketing Director from Rotary International, said the ITF provided a useful source of assistance to share some of the financial risks and costs related to preparing an international tender.

He added: "Companies which operate in international markets can incur significant costs in developing and pursuing business opportunities and the support which Invest NI can give in this area is much appreciated."

(SP)

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