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Export Forums

Bedford Borough Council’s Economic Development unit have a working relationship, and specific business contacts within UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). They are available to provide specific and informative advice and information to assist organisations in the export of their products to markets abroad. This applies, both within the EU, and in countries outside the EU.


UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) staff are experts in Helping Your Business Grow Internationally. They provide expert trade advice and practical support to UK-based companies wishing to grow their business overseas.

UKTI has professional advisers both within the UK and across more than 100 international markets, to assist you on every step of the exporting journey. Whatever stage of development your business is at, we can give you the support that you need to prosper.

Through a range of unique services, including participation at selected trade fairs, outward missions and providing bespoke market intelligence, we can help you crack foreign markets and get to grips quickly with overseas regulations and business practice.


UKTI East of England Trade Contacts


Tel: 0845 641 9955

Email: info@uktieast.org.uk


UK Trade & Investment services and supports regional businesses seeking to win a share of the global market. They offer the following services: 

  • Local International Trade and Advice (new window) - UKTI International Trade Teams are located in over 40 local offices around the country. Every UK region also has dedicated sector specialists who can provide support tailored to your industry. 
  • Passport to Export (new window) - assesses a company’s readiness for international business, and helps it build international trade capacity.
  • Overseas Market Introduction Service (new window) - an online tool putting companies directly in touch with staff in overseas offices for focused business advice and support
  • Export Marketing Research Scheme (new window) - helps British companies research overseas markets prior to entry
  • Export Communications Review  (new window) - provides companies with impartial and objective advice on language and cultural issues to help them improve their competitiveness in existing and future export markets.


PERA (new window)

PERA is a consultancy firm commissioned by EEDA to support East of England businesses to access the Framework 7 Programme (FP7). FP7 is the European Union’s biggest initiative for funding collaborative research and development projects across Europe.  

FP7 proposals should be developed by a collaboration of organisations which may include small to medium sized enterprises, larger businesses and research institutions. There should be representation of at least 3 EU countries.

The FP7 support can help your business access this funding, submitting a bid and/or finding partners.  


Contact details:

Tel: +44 (0) 1664 501501

Fax: +44 (0) 1664 501554

Email: innovation@pera.com


East of England Brussels Office (new window)

The office assists people, businesses and organisations in the East of England to maximise the benefits of EU membership by:

  • Guiding partners through the maze of EU institutions and legislation
  • Providing intelligence and advance warning of EU policy and funding developments
  • Promoting regional businesses to the rest of the EU, and helping to forge business links throughout Europe
  • Creating links through networking and partner searches with other European regions
  • Raising the regional profile to key decision-makers in the European institutions

In particular it operates a Business Club to help businesses: tap opportunities; inform them of new relevant policy developments; give advance warning of legislation and contract opportunities; and act as liaison office in Brussels


Contact details:

Tel: +32 2 289 1200
Email: brusselsoffice@east-of-england.eu


Online services and other support

The Directorate-General (DG) for Enterprise and Industry is the part of the European Commission tasked with ensuring a well run internal market for goods and promoting the competitiveness of EU enterprise. DG Enterprise & Industry pays particular attention to the needs of manufacturing industry and small and medium sized enterprises: it manages programmes to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation and ensure that Community legislation take proper account of their concerns.  

The DG addresses businesses of all types, regardless of legal structure or size, but focuses particularly on the needs of small and medium sized enterprises.


SME Portal

DG Enterprise website (new window) has an area specifically dedicated to SMEs – the SME Portal. This portal has been set up to provide a single entry point to information on all European Union policies, programmes, projects, tools and services aimed at SMEs.  

It has sections covering: 

  • EU funding for SMEs
  • EU sectoral Policies
  • Support services across Europe
  • On-line tools
  • Going International
  • The EUs SME Envoy
  • SME Policy
  • SMEs and Innovation
  • Promoting Entrepreneurship
  • A Single Market in Europe
  • Making SMEs more competitive 

The paragraphs below expand on some of these areas, but this environment is being constantly updated and amended, and it is recommended that the site is checked before acting on any of the information.  



Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can benefit from EU funding through grants, loans and, in some cases guarantees. Support is available either directly (EU grants) or though programmes managed at a national level.

Grant funding is mostly thematic with specific objectives – environment, research, training etc. and designed and implemented by a variety of agencies and departments within the EU Commission. Any SME applying will need to contribute to a sustainable, value added and transnational projects. The EU will normally only part fund any eligible project. For further information go to the on-line funding tool as below or

The “Grants and loans data base.

The online tool for SME funding (new window) is intended to be a simple way for SMEs to find the schemes and programmes that they might access. It gives an overview of the most relevant and links and contacts for further information. See:

Financial Instruments (new window) do not provide direct funding to SMEs, but are usually processed through financial intermediaries such as banks or investment funds. They are intended to increase the volume of credit available to SMEs and encourage an increase in SME lending capacity.

European investment fund (new window) 

Enterprise and industry (new window) website offers information on access to start up or expansion financing can be found at:

Loans (new window) are available in some EU States to help SMEs start up or develop. The Access to Finance site below includes information and contact details for each Member State, but there is no fund as yet set up in the UK. See:


Other Support Services

SOLVIT (new window an on-line network to solve problems caused by the misapplication of Internal Market law by public authorities.

Your Europe – Business (new window): practical information and advice to carry out business in another country within the European Union.

Intellectual property rights (IPR) (new window) a free resource on intellectual property rights, mainly aimed at contractors and participants in EU funded programmes.

CORDIS (new window) is a comprehensive website that offers access to European Union research and development funding programmes, as well as information on potential partners and previous and ongoing projects.

Don't Miss

Bedford Map

The Business section gives you advice and help on what you need to know about owning and running a business in the borough. Information includes business rates, health and safety, street trading licences and more.

Creative Bedfordshire


Bedford Borough Council Economic Development is currently working with Bedford Creative Arts to deliver a programme of monthly networking meetings, which aim to support the development of creative skills, new enterprise and business development of the Creative Sector in Bedford Borough.


The meetings are held on the first Thursday of every month at 123CREATE, Midland Road, Bedford, MK40 1DE. 7pm-9pm.


There is no need to book. Just come along to meet other creative professionals from the Bedfordshire area. Each meeting has a Spotlight on a different area of the creative industries, plus dedicated time for members to present their own activities to the group. Supported by Bedford Borough Council Economic Development.


For further information or to book your Spotlight Slot, contact Bedford Creative Arts on:

Telephone: 01234 818670, email info@bedfordcreativearts.org.uk or visit www.bedfordcreativearts.org.uk/index.php/events/


Have you joined the Creative Bedfordshire Facebook Group?  Join us at http://www.facebook.com/groups/35989413519/ to keep up to date with all the daily member posts, events and news feeds.