Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Dr Bruce Knight.
Reaping the Benefits of International Trade
With export sales growing from 2% to 98% of sales over the last 6 years, Dr. Bruce Knight puts his success down to perseverance, a good business model and support from UK Trade & Investment.
“My PhD looked at how bacteria help plants to grow and potential applications for sustainable agriculture,” explains Bruce. “I set up Legume Technology Ltd in 2001 to focus specifically on a process called nitrogen ‘fixing’, a completely natural process which uses inoculation of the soil to improve nitrogen supply to legume crops, such as soya, clover, peanuts and lentils, ensuring an optimum yield throughout the season.”
In those early days, armed with a pressure cooker, some second hand lab equipment and plenty of determination, Bruce had developed a customer base that was primarily UK based.
Identify new markets “We always knew that the UK was going to be a small market for us because of the nature of the crops here. Our products have a far greater impact on yields in places where crops are grown that are not native to that country or when the right kind of bacteria is not present or not surviving in the soil. For instance our Canadian customers have seen yield increases of up to 70% growing soya beans in Quebec and Ontario.’
Bruce understood that international sales were going to be the key to significant business growth and as a technical specialist knew that he needed some extra help with getting started on his export strategy. He decided to get in touch with UK Trade & Investment for some support and was soon discussing options with International Trade Adviser Steve Barton.
“Bruce already had some interest from a Canadian company and although Canada has very strict and lengthy registration requirements, it was seen as the benchmark for other countries,” explains Steve.
“I recommended that Bruce went through our Passport to Export programme to gain an essential grounding in the fundamentals needed to develop his export potential.”
Through the Passport scheme, Bruce had access to an export skills development programme, a dedicated mentor, match funding to support their export strategy, a full capability assessment and bespoke action planning.
Access business support
“The Passport support gave us the confidence to move ahead with our first steps into international trade and with the associated funding we were able to visit the market,” says Bruce.
“It was a good trip as we were able to find out that the company interested in working with us weren’t the best partners for our business and we were able to pull back before wasting precious time and resources.”
Legume Technology was also able to set up initial field trials which generated excellent results and after subsequent market visits a better suited distributor was secured. The registration process in Canada has taken almost 5 years to come to fruition but the company’s perseverance is now paying off with orders on current products set to triple next year and two further product registrations due in the coming months.”
“Whenever I have a problem I don’t know the answer to I can just phone my ITA. This is still a small business and exporting to the variety of countries that we do brings with it different legal and practical problems. Sometimes it’s really helpful to be able to talk to your ITA, someone who understands your business and can point you in the right direction to get the advice you need. UKTI has no vested interest and can be truly objective with their advice. It’s a great resource - why wouldn’t you use it?”.
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Doing business in another country can be a challenge, so it’s good to know that UK Trade & Investment is there to help you succeed.
Through a range of unique services, including participation at selected trade fairs, overseas missions and providing bespoke market intelligence, UK Trade & Investment can help you crack foreign markets and quickly get to grips with regulations and business. .