Businesses from across the Thames Valley joined the Chamber as it embarked on a four-day Trade Mission to Kansai, Japan.
Working closely with the Osaka Chamber of Commerce (OCCI) and Kansai Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce (TVCC) produced an extended programme to develop new connections and trade and investment opportunities with Osaka and the wider Kansai region. Previously TVCC and OCCI Chambers signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), leading to an even greater working relationship between the two regions.
A team of 12 including delegates and staff were led by the Chamber’s CEO Paul Britton and Head of International Trade & Compliance Anne White. Additionally, Japanese expert Masako Eguchi-Bacon, who has more than 25 years of experience in managing bilateral business relationships, was in attendance.
Delegates had the opportunity to participate in a series of high profile b2b meetings and seminars with leading experts from across the technology sector in Kansai, as well as meet representatives from the respective Consulate Generals’ to help establish important future partnerships.
Christoph Birkl, Co-founder and CEO of Brill Power, who attended commented: “We were keen to learn about the Japanese technology market, specifically companies in energy storage and from the start wanted to be part of this important mission. After all, Japan has some of the world’s leading battery makers and it’s of great interest to Brill Power to form connections and partnerships in this area. Having never been to Japan before it was fascinating to be part of a programme that ensured we could network with local businesses, find out about the business culture and experience Kansai.
“A highly productive week that included many valuable introductions, including a potential future partnership for us. Whilst it’s at the early stages, an incredibly exciting time as we look towards developing our relationship even further. We also met a few additional companies that could be part of our ongoing plans.
“The entire schedule, from start to finish, ran incredibly well, with a lot of thought going into making sure those attending met the right types of businesses over the course of the four-days. Well done and congratulations to everyone involved in making it a fantastic trade mission that we were proud to be part of.”
David Smellie, corporate and commercial partner at B P Collins, who were one of the sponsors, and travelled to the Kansai region as part of a delegation said: “Having sponsored the trade mission in 2016, B P Collins saw the benefit that one of the delegates derived from the opportunities arising from the trade delegation. We were therefore pleased that we may be able to assist other UK leading edge companies obtain the same type of benefit from this year’s mission.
“Thanks to the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, the arrangements made for the week were exemplary; from arriving at Heathrow on the Monday morning to landing on the Friday evening, everything was seamless and the hospitality received from the hosts was, as ever, superb.
“Quality of the companies that attended the one-to-one business meetings was great and I know from speaking to some of the delegates that they do believe that there are real opportunities to explore and develop.
“The issues that kept being raised was the impact that Brexit may have on trade between Japan and UK and also whether Brexit may impact on Japanese companies selling to the UK and then onward selling to Europe. UK companies dealing with Japanese companies will need to be aware of this.
“We had meetings with two real prospects which we are following up,” he added. “Overall, the experience was very worthwhile – and we look forward to working with the TVCC on future missions.”
Chamber CEO Paul Britton further added: “As the leading technology region in the UK we are keen to play an instrumental role in helping establish partnerships between companies based in the Thames Valley and our Kansai counterparts. We have a strong and ongoing commitment to collaborate and share opportunities for open innovation and create relationships with the aim of establishing new commercial ventures and friendships.