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Local companies US trade mission will allow them to tap into new markets

10 November 2016

Five companies from the Derry City and Strabane District Council area will travel to Boston Massachusetts this weekend, as part of a trade delegation from the North West region, where they will showcase their entrepreneurship and innovation in an effort to tap into the US market.

The locally based companies, Northbound Brewery, GoWalkTalk, Modern Democracy, Qubizm and O’Neill’s Sportswear, will join companies from Donegal on the cross-border trade mission that is being jointly organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock says the trip will give the businesses a unique opportunity to tap into the US market and showcase their businesses to a new audience.

John Kelpie, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council says while the trip is very trade and investment focused, there will be a strong emphasis on education and further developing the strong cultural and economic linkages between the North West region and Massachusetts.

Accompanying Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council will be Udaras na nGaeltachta, Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and the North West Regional College.

A new video showcasing the region as a prime location for business has been commissioned especially for this mission and will be launched in the US along with a new brochure to promote all aspects of the North West region.

Among the businesses participating from the Derry City and Strabane District Council area are:

Northbound Brewery is a Derry based company, owned and managed by a husband and wife team David and Martina Rogers that produce hand crafted premium beers. Northbound uses Irish ingredients and prides itself in crafting natural beers, unpasteurised, unfiltered with no artificial additives and bottled fresh on site. Having spent 10 years in Australia and with a passion for craft beer, David learned about the craft of brewing and became a Master Brewer. The couple made a decision to locate their business in Campsie, Derry and are very keen to expand into the US market. They believe the trip to US will allow them to do just that.

Martina says: “This is a really good opportunity for us to make new business links and to promote our unique produce to a new market. We are a small family run business that prides itself on producing natural beer and also introducing the drinker to lesser known beer styles.  Our beers are currently available Ireland wide, in Scotland and in England and we are really hopeful and excited at the prospect of sharing our beers with the American market. We hope the trip will give us a wider understanding of the supply chain for craft beer importation in the US and the chance for us to establish relationships with potential customers.”

 GoWalkTalk is a medical technology company that was the first Derry firm to be awarded $60,000 by TechStartNI and has also received support from the Council’s Growing the Digital Economy Project and InvestNI. Gowalktalk has created a unique solution to assist and manage carers (professional and family) to actively meet the needs of those needing independent care, as occurs as a result of an accident, recovering or diagnosed with a long term illness or if they are recently released from hospital.

  Gowalktalk are operating in the connected health sector and have digitised all the requirements of patient care and medicines programs. The solution has even built-in specialist design features to support those with dementia or alzheimers and can be expanded to include devices at home including camera integration, real time data and task management,  emergency alert tools and wellness benefit notifications making the product very unique in the healthcare sector where many products are based around computer programs only.  The company’s founder Tony McIntyre believes the delegation to the US will greatly assist in reaching out to health insurance companies and those involved in the medicare, homecare and healthcare sectors.

Tony says: “We are excited about being part of delegation and to get the opportunity to meet with potential partners and companies in the US we have been talking to for the last few weeks. We are very confident that this visit will allow us to create new business opportunities.”

Modern Democracy is a locally based digital technology provider that is very keen to advance into the US market, to showcase its unique digital democracy platform and consultancy packages, which have been designed to help electoral service professionals improve and transform service delivery. The company’s founder Siobhan Donaghy says the US trade visit is the perfect platform for the company to meet with decision makers in electoral management in the US and to look at competitors operating in the US.

She says: “It is our vision to become the leader in the digital transformation of democratic services nationally and internationally and being part of this NW trade mission is a key opportunity for us to showcase our innovative solutions and share our expertise with the elections industry in the US. We are really excited about the meetings that have been set up for us and are very keen to make the most of this fantastic opportunity to sell our products directly to State and City government election officials.”

 Qubizm creates radical and innovative resources for the teaching and learning of mathematics. The company’s founder Franz Schlindwein, himself a former secondary head of mathematics, is confident the US visit will allow him to showcase his first product – Izak9, to the US market, highlighting the importance of making math education more fun and rewarding for students, especially in the context of the challenges currently faced by US schools in delivering the common core math curriculum. While Izak9 is already getting some traction internationally, he is very keen to explore the opportunity the US market presents and to meet with organisations and individuals involved in math/STEM education, especially the teaching universities.

Franz says: “Izak9 not only allows children to build a positive relationship with mathematics from a young age, we also have research showing it is having a similar effect on teachers, with many stating that its use significantly raises the standard of teaching and learning in their own classrooms, due to Izak9 helping engage them more with the subject of mathematics on a personal level! I am confident that this NW wide delegation visit will provide an ideal  showcase for the myriad of benefits Izak9 has to offer, to as many education stakeholders as possible."

O’Neill’s Sportswear is probably the biggest and most well-known of the companies taking part in the delegation and while they are renowned for their design and manufacture of sportswear they are very keen to tap into the US market and enter new markets. The Strabane based company has designed a special rugby jersey for the trade mission in the Boston colours and is very keen to make contacts with potential customers who have a need for specialised sports clothing.

The company has been working closely with contacts for the past 12 months and will be using the trade mission as an opportunity to follow up on those links and meet with potential new customers for their quality sports and leisurewear.  Orla Ward from O’Neills says: “Being part of the delegation is hugely important for the company and a great opportunity, not only to engage directly with their US contacts, but to identify new markets and showcase the company’s success and quality products.”

The delegation departs next weekend, where in addition to taking part in a full meeting schedule, the team will avail of business networking opportunities focusing on foreign direct investment, and take part in a series of events to profile and showcase the region for potential export relationship development.

The delegation will also take part in the Golden Bridges Conference where the focus will be on making connections, building strong mutually beneficial relationships and promoting the North West region as a great place to do business.