The Going Dutch programme is a dedicated export development initiative for Northern Ireland companies who have limited experience of selling outside N. Ireland.
The programme is designed to help companies develop the confidence, knowledge and necessary skills required to successfully export and specifically break into and develop the Dutch market.
The programme provides companies with:
• 1:1 consultancy support from an appointed Trade Advisor based in the Netherlands
• Individual tailored market research
• 3 Group workshops addressing common export Issues and preparing participants for the market
• A four day group visit to The Netherlands with 5 - 6 qualified meetings with potential customers or partners
• Support for individual return visits to the market within 3 months
• Development of a follow-up Action Plan on how to realise the opportunities.
Invest NI runs 2 cohorts of the programme per annum – 6 companies participate per cohort. Companies who meet the eligibility criteria are nominated by their respective Client Executive to attend a programme launch. 1:1 meetings are held with each company to assess their suitability for the programme.
Invest NI’s in-market Trade Advisor carries out some initial market scoping for each company to validate the opportunity. Based on the initial feedback, 6 companies are subsequently offered a place on the programme.
The Going Dutch programme has been running from 2005 and over 125 companies have participated on the programme to date.
Invest NI runs 2 cohorts of the programme per annum with an annual budget of €145,000.
Staff resources: 1 full-time Trade Officer for the duration of each cohort (4 months).
Evidence of success
An Evaluation Analysis was carried out with companies who participated on the programme in September 2014. The analysis showed that companies who participated on the programme are selling in excess of €4.4m per annum into the Dutch market, as a direct result of their participation on the programme.
Overall, the programme has generated approximately €25 million of exports from Northern Ireland to the Netherlands to date.
The analysis showed that c 20% of companies did not secure sales into the market, and felt the programme was offered to them too early in their stage of development. Companies were very small and did not have the resources required to proactively follow-up and take advantage of the opportunities.
Potential for learning or transfer
As a result of our Evaluation Analysis, we subsequently tightened the participation criteria and the selection process to ensure companies' suitability and readiness for the programme.
In relation to improvements in the selection criteria, we carried out initial market screening for all of the companies to briefly assess / validate the potential opportunities for each company. We also prioritised companies who had at least 10% of their sales in external markets (outside of Northern Ireland). We also looked at previous projects that we had assisted the companies with and the achievement of companies targets against those projects. We then applied a competitive process and selected the companies who we felt were most suitable and would benefit the most from the programme.
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