UKTI case study – Stemgent-Asterand
Experienced exporter Stemgent-Asterand has used UKTI support to optimise its strategy for new Asia-Pacific markets.
From its offices in Royston, Hertfordshire, and Detroit in the US, Stemgent-Asterand provides scientists with high quality, human tissue-based solutions that accelerate drug discovery research.
In 2012 the company’s senior director of business development, Jeremy Clarke, was tasked with managing growth across the Asia-Pacific region; he turned to UKTI for support to maximise the company’s potential within these new markets.
By December 2012 exports already accounted for more than 20 per cent of Stemgent-Asterand’s total revenue, so UKTI trade adviser Claire Lachlan recommended that Clarke sign up for the Gateway for Global Growth programme, which helps more experienced exporters take their overseas trade to the next level.
“By this stage of development, companies already tend to have improved their financial systems and marketing strategy to facilitate export,” explains Lachlan. “UKTI support becomes less about helping to correct deficiencies and focuses more on identifying additional markets and overcoming barriers to entry.”
As the United States accounts for 70 per cent of the global pharmaceutical market, UK life science companies usually export to Europe and the US in quick succession before considering other options. Having successfully penetrated these two regions, Asterand was ready to explore Japan, China and Korea next.
“UKTI can help businesses like Stemgent-Asterand to develop a robust action plan for the Asia-Pacific region,” Lachlan says. “Companies need to have a clear understanding of the developmental and regulatory differences between the territories so that they can assess what could possibly be achieved in each.”
“Through the Gateway Programme we received Market Visit Support grants that enabled us to attend two international biotechnology conventions: Bio-Korea in September 2013 and Bio-Japan the following month,” says Clarke.
“In addition, a China-focused workshop and clinic, run by UKTI specifically for life sciences companies, gave me important insights into best practice in China as well as introductions to UKTI commercial officers and other useful contacts with prior experience of this market.”
In September 2013, Asterand commissioned an Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) report to get tailored feedback about exporting to Korea – a much smaller market that is growing at a slower rate.
“We made some good contacts as a result of the OMIS, and had some productive meetings, but we don‘t yet have the local support that we would need to move forwards with this market,” Clarke added.
“For the time being, we intend to prioritise Japan and China. Our Asia-Pacific turnover has increased by 100 per cent since we started working with UKTI.”
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