Seventeen local companies are heading to Scandinavia on an Invest Northern Ireland trade mission that aims to help them identify and develop new business opportunities and consolidate existing contacts.

The first stop on the mission is Sweden, one of Northern Ireland’s most important export markets and one that offers opportunities for local exporters in a number of sectors.

The participating companies represent a wide variety of local products and services ranging from textiles and medical appliances, to meat processors, haircare products, guitars and scientific cameras.

The companies will first visit Stockholm and will then have the opportunity to travel to other parts of Sweden, and on to Denmark, Norway, and Finland to meet with business contacts.

Alan Hingston, Director of Trade in Invest Northern Ireland, says that more local companies are increasingly recognising the benefits of overseas trade missions and the necessity of targeting export markets to ensure long-term growth.

“Helping companies succeed in export markets is one of Invest NI’s key priorities because it is essential for economic growth. In our first year we exceeded our targets for companies participating in trade missions and for existing exporters entering new markets. Over 1,300 companies took part in Invest NI trade activities during 2002/3.

“Currently local companies sell some 38 per cent of produce into export markets but we want to see that figure increase and to help more small and medium sized businesses penetrate overseas markets.

“Northern Irish exports to Scandinavia are worth over £90million. It is an ideal market for local companies because there are no language barriers and the approach to business is very like our own. “

The trade mission runs 18-24 May 2003.

Participating companies are:

Andor Technology – Belfast – scientific cameras
Bridgedale Outdoor - Newtownards - Outdoor pursuits socks
Canyon Europe – Newtownabbey – trigger sprayers and dispensers
CSS – Craigavon – pharmaceutical products
Denman International - Bangor - Haircare products
Douglas & Grahame – Belfast – mens and boys clothing
FM Environmental – Newry – services to waste water industry
Finlay Hydrascreens – Omagh – mobile screening equipment
John England (Textiles) – Belfast – linen manufacturer
Linden Foods – Dungannon – meat processing
Livestock and Meat Commission – Lisburn – promotion of NI meat industry
Lowden Guitar Co – Newtownards – manufacturer of acoustic guitars
Naturelle Consumer Products – Omagh – disposable wipes, safety clothing
NI Plastics Ltd – Downpatrick – sheet plastic extruders
Randox – Crumlin – diagnostic reagents
T G Eakin Ltd – Comber – medical appliances
Target Dry Ltd – Belfast – waterproof clothing for the leisure industry