Staff from Kent Science Park recently accompanied seven companies to Paris, in order to attend SIAL – The Global Food Marketplace. The trip was organised as part of the Park’s association with the Channel Innovation Network (CHAIN2), which was established to foster closer working relationships between companies in the South East, with their counterparts in Normandy and Brittany.
SIAL is the world’s largest food innovation marketplace, and had delegates and exhibitors from across the globe. As part of the trip, the team also took Kent delegates to an event they were hosting at the British Embassy in Paris, where they had the opportunity to meet with all the French CHAIN2 partners as well as companies from Normandy and Brittany. Hosted by UKTI, the event gave companies the chance to network and discuss marketing and distribution.
Richard Wheeler is Head of Business Development at Kent Science Park and is also Project Manager for CHAIN2 Kent. He spearheaded the trip to Paris and spoke about why he felt the trip was important and the opportunities available for Kent companies on the continent:
“The important thing for the companies attending SIAL was that it was a chance to see how things are done differently in other countries. We accompanied several food companies from Kent who are looking to expand their operations into France, so this was an ideal opportunity for them to meet with distributors and other food companies already operating in the area, to help them understand the true cost and logistics of doing business. It’s such a big exhibition, you can see what the competition are doing, look at innovative processes and packaging and you can speak to people operating in the same vertical markets but selling different products – obviously making them more likely to help!
“France is a marketplace that is untapped by many British companies. We wanted to give Kent companies the chance to see that exporting their products to the continent could be a viable option and an additional revenue stream for their business.”
Babs Knott, Site Administrator at Kent Science Park was also on the trip. She discussed why she felt that projects like CHAIN2 were so important:
“I am keen to see CHAIN2 help Kent Science Park forge strong links with science and business parks in Normandy and Brittany and throughout France, as there is so much overlap with what we do. Forming partnerships helps us to learn from each other, to see what they’ve done that’s worked, and also what hasn’t, so we can apply those lessons to how we do things. It also encourages an atmosphere of collaboration, so if we have a business onsite who are looking to expand into additional offices in France, or vice-versa, then we are able to make a connection for them.”
More information about the CHAIN2 project can be found by visiting chain-business.com, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.