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24 April, 2014 - 16:50 By News Desk

UKTI Case study – Ziath


Cambridge company Ziath, established in 2005 by co-founders Neil Benn and Tim Dilks, develops innovative products designed to simplify processes in life science organisations, including tube handling devices, sample management software and barcode scanning equipment.

Having worked previously with UKTI in 2012 through the Passport to Export programme, when the company was expanding into France and Germany, managing director Neil contacted UKTI again in 2013 for advice on further international expansion - specifically regarding which countries to target next.

As experienced exporters, UKTI Trade Advisor Claire Lachlan recommended Ziath join the Gateway to Global Growth programme, a 12 month service offering experienced exporters strategic, one-to-one support tailored to their needs. 

“The Gateway programme is designed to help companies with between two and 10 years of export experience reduce the risk in entering new markets and help them overcome barriers to entry,” explains Claire.

“As well as guidance from professionals on subjects such as language and culture and how to protect your intellectual property, it gives exporters access to UKTI’s vast international network and provides assistance with market research  - which can significantly reduce the hours companies need to spend doing this themselves.”

“Claire initially worked with us to help us decide which countries were a viable target market for our products and which weren’t,” explains Neil.  “The best piece of advice she gave us was to concentrate our efforts on one territory at a time because we’re a small company with limited resources.

The market research she carried out for us helped to rule out Brazil and India for the time being in favour of China.”

“China was a huge potential market for Neil,” says Claire, who has 15 years experience in the bio-technology industry. “In 2010, exports of goods from companies in the East of England to China topped half a billion pounds. However, a major stumbling block was finding the right distributors for Neil’s products as they are extremely niche. One of the ways I helped Neil was to identify the right distributors for his products.”

Claire sourced a list of five potential distributors through her network of client companies, who Neil interviewed via Skype before compiling a shortlist of three.  

He then secured a UKTI matched-funding grant which enabled him to travel out to China and meet the prospective distributors.  “It was really important to meet the distributors face-to-face because in China building relationships is key and your distributors expect you to treat them almost as one of the family,” said Neil.

“We established that one of the distributors wasn’t suitable due to cultural issues and the terms of their contract so we eliminated them from the shortlist.”

Orders secured so far from the two remaining Chinese distributors will total £60,000 over the next 12 months and £200,000 over the next three years.

Ziath continues to work with UKTI going forward and has plans to expand into India and South Korea.

“As a small business it’s really beneficial to have an adviser on board.  Claire not only taught us to focus our resources on one territory, which minimised costs, but she also thoroughly researched leads and called potential distributors on our behalf to gauge the level of interest in our products,” said Neil.


To find out more about UK Trade and Investment services in the East of England contact your local International Trade team:

Tel:  0845 641 9955

Email: info [at]


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