An alliance of businesses in the business of water

Are targeted business missions right for your organisation?

October 16, 2017

A renewed focus on targeted business missions for small-to-medium enterprises looking to expand in key international growth markets, has seen governments and industry organisations, such as the Water Industry Alliance, take interested delegates abroad to help them build and foster connections and partnerships.

The regions Australian businesses have been able to visit include the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), South East Asia, China, Europe, USA, North East Asia and India.

Participating in targeted business missions abroad enables an organisation to take part in business-to-business matching sessions, meet potential investment partners and secure international orders for products and services, which in turn enhances their international profile and helps build an understanding of the cultural and regulatory requirements in international markets.

While there is potential to accelerate your business through a targeted mission abroad, it’s important to complete the necessary groundwork before taking the plunge. You should be clear about your own capabilities and offerings and clearly be able to demonstrate how your business is well suited to the market you wish to enter.

“Once a business can identify that there’s a market opportunity, we use our existing relationship and leverage to put them in direct contact with potential suppliers or market clients, which, starting from nothing, can take an organisation many more years of relationship building,” says Rachel Barratt, Chief Executive of the Water Industry Alliance.

“Our existing networks and contacts are continuously growing and an SME that is associated with a peer group, whether it’s an alliance or other, is seen as being a more credible company – it’s like a ‘tick of approval’ that your company must be high-calibre and you get the opportunity to meet senior people in organisations that you would not be able to access otherwise.

“What’s more, you’re not on your own when doing this, you’re doing it with like-minded businesses, so you are learning from others about how to do business in this market. You begin to form a greater network as many international projects you could bid for may need collaboration and cooperation with other companies because of their scale.

“Your sphere of influence can grow by connecting with other companies heading on the same journey.”

The WIA successfully led its first delegation at the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII-Triveni Water Institute) 3rd Water Innovation Summit in September, promoting members and providing support for them to establish business relationships in India.

The WIA’s unique approach to the targeted business capabilities matching mission, held in New Delhi, saw its members having direct access to over 200 Indian water industry organisations seeking information on how Australian water expertise can boost their operations.

The WIA is committed to raising the profile of the Australian water industry and demonstrating its members’ capabilities in this market. The delegation included a selection of members from across Australia with expertise throughout the water cycle, including:

•             Hydro-dis Water Treatment Systems

•             HydroNumerics

•             Optimatics

•             Plumbing Products Industry Group

•             Sentek

•             Swan Systems

•             ICE WaRM

•             SA Water

“The WIA is building on the existing relationships in India developed over time by us and the South Australian government,” Rachel Barrett said.

“We have some good networks and relationships already built in India and Australia is becoming better known because of the work being done by the government and other organisations like Austrade and Australian Water Partnership.

“The opportunities are quite enormous because the challenges there are significant – there’s an increasing focus on the urgency and so they’re looking for solutions now.

“The commitment from the Indian Government to a range of projects demonstrate that water is high-priority and is seen as one of the most critical issues to enable them to progress as a country.

“Having completed a review and learning more about India, the WIA has made a strategic decision to work closely on the government initiatives while also focusing more on building partnerships and relationships with the private sector.”

Businesses looking to provide services or technologies in India will find the need to partner with an Indian company, which highlights the importance of showcasing Australia’s water expertise to the private sector who may be interested in investing or partnering to deliver Australian water services or technology.

“The CII is really important because they’re a credible organisation made up of those influential, powerful and forward-thinking Indian companies – and they’re the companies that we want our members to get to know,” Rachel said.

“We assume in India there’s a whole lot of poor practices but that’s just not the case, there is a growing cohort of medium and large firms that are world-leading in their water management practices.

“These companies can also act as really good mentors for Australian companies.”

Businesses looking to export into key international growth markets will benefit from the WIA’s support to help build international connections and partnerships as it looks to conduct business delegations in the future.

“We are not a large organisation and therefore can only lead and or participate in a few business missions per year, while our main focus will continue to be on assisting companies locally and nationally,” Rachel continued. “However, there is a growing recognition that for many companies to grow they will need to look at new markets. Some of these are easier to access but others are more difficult and India is one of these.

“While the opportunities in India are immense these opportunities don’t necessarily translate to demand for services. Companies need assistance to identify where to start and hopefully to accelerate their journey – which in these markets will be a long one. The rewards can be great but the investment in time and resources is also significant. The WIA is trying to assist by where possible reducing the costs and time and increasing the likelihood of success.

“Going forward the WIA will strategically target markets that it believes support members ambitions for growth and help as best we can.”