Turning the TAP one last time?

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We reported back in June that Government has decided to call time on the Tradeshow Access Programme. Executive Director Anthony Short talks us through what the MIA did next.

There is little doubt that the Tradeshow Access Programme proved to be an absolute winner as far as MI was concerned. 

TAP operated in a variety of forms over a period of 25 years, helping a great many UK firms exhibit at events such as the NAMM show, Musikmesse and Music China. The scheme was administered by Colin Holdsworth on behalf of the MIA and he was in no doubt of the positive impact of TAP.

“In many cases, the grants themselves were fairly modest, often between £1,000 & £2,000, but they helped get both new companies and new products onto the tradeshow floor. As far as value for money goes, the return on that investment kind of spoke for itself, with returns of 25:1 (or more) in terms of secured export orders versus grants, often reported back to DTI.”

“Tap funding played a part in at least six businesses from the MI sector securing a Queens Award for Export”

OK, so I know what you are going to ask next. If the return on investment was so good then why does the government need to offer any support at all? The answer to this falls into two parts. Firstly it’s all about confidence, in many cases these companies were right at the beginning of a particular journey and the support afforded by the TAP scheme gave stakeholders the necessary confidence to take the first steps into export.

The consequence of the first point, leads to the second reason why such programmes are important and that is speed. It would be fair to say that in many cases TAP didn’t alter the outcome, but it did speed up the journey – meaning UK manufacturers secured orders earlier and developed their businesses faster.

So what now?

The immediate catch-all to the TAP programme is the Internationalisation Fund, and whilst this is not a direct replacement it does offer some benefits in terms of what it can be used for. Government has also hinted that there will be a successor to TAP and the MIA has already begun to collate opinions as to what we would like this new scheme to look like.

The immediate problem however is the support gap over the next six months. 

For many, the upcoming NAMM show in January 2022 is vitally important in terms of post-pandemic recovery and expansion into new markets post-Brexit. UK Companies may have booked booth space on the expectation of support from TAP, or be holding off from making a final decision because of the uncertainty of grant availability.

This is one of those situations where the clarity and detail required from Government may come just a little too late, and by the time the situation is clearer the opportunity offered by the NAMM show may have been missed for 12 months.

Bespoke Support for the MI Industry

As such the MIA has lobbied the key stakeholders in Government to make an exception for the MI sector and provide an interim fund to support those UK companies that would have previously benefitted from TAP.

I have this week written to a number of key figures across Government requesting extraordinary funding of £50,000 to support those exporters wishing to promote their brands at the NAMM show in 2022. Such a fund would be administered along similar guidelines to TAP, and would resolve the immediate gap in government provision.

The letter has been sent to the following;

  • Steven Barclay, MP – Chief Secretary to the Treasury (H.M Treasury)
  • Graham Stuart, MP – Minister for Exports (D.I.T)
  • Paul Scully, MP – Minister for Small Business (B.E.I.S) 
  • David Warburton, MP – Chair on APPG for Music
  • Saqib Bhatt, MP – Chair on APPG Micro Business

I will keep you informed on how this request proceeds. In the meantime, we (the MIA) will continue to poll members on what you would like to see Government provide to support your export efforts moving forward.

Here is a copy of the letter:

MIA letter to Government on interim tradeshow support (AS)