Internship research fast-tracks specialist export support for innovative businesses

15 January 2019


Detailed research and analysis by two Leeds University students working as interns at Chamber International is set to help 10 Yorkshire businesses fast track their exporting to Dubai and China.

The six-week project by Zainab Atia, 23, and her colleague, Zixin Thang, 22 (pictured below), developed innovative research to refine a list of scores of SMEs to a final selection to receive specialist support in starting, or enhancing, their exports to two of the UK’s fastest-growing target markets.


Zainab and Zixin – also known as Wendy - used the extensive Chamber International database and exporter profiles to analyse and assess the suitability of a wide range of companies to achieve their potential to export in Dubai, or China, based on their turnover, location, size, product, or service, expertise and business sector.

Six exporters to Dubai, were selected by Zainab, who has just completed an MSc in management consultancy, for face-to-face meetings with the chief executive of the British Centre for Business (BCB), Dubai, Joe Hepworth (pictured below), who was on a 36-hour UK business trip and was able to spend a day at Chamber International in December to assess their potential for specialist support through BCB with which it launched a formal partnership in 2018.

   Chamber International director, Tim Bailey, (left) with British Business Centres (BCB) chief executive, Joe Hepworth, after ratifying the new working partnership in summer 2018.

Chamber International director, Tim Bailey, (left) with British Business Centres (BCB) chief executive, Joe Hepworth, after ratifying the new working partnership in summer 2018.

An additional four companies were identified by Zixin, who has also studied management consultancy, using the same criteria, to strengthen their exporting to China through Chamber International’s China specialist, Matthew Grandage, who spent 15 years living and working in the country and speaks fluent Mandarin. The businesses may gain help including adding Chinese content to their websites, or addressing issues in their distributors' marketing.

One company selected to meet Joe Hepworth was Chamber International client, Cardinal Innovations of Bradford, which designs, builds and supplies its globally- patented, S-Box™, a self-lifting, pop-up socket system for counters, worktops, kitchen islands and furniture. Each S-Box™ can be used at surface level with its own steel top, or inset below with a customised top matching its surroundings.

Commercial director, Peter Brook (pictured below), who co-developed S-Box™, says: “We export to 53 countries and have supplied both projects and kitchen designers in Dubai directly, after being specified, and through dealer agents holding a small stock. Although we have had representation in Dubai since 2015, it has been ad hoc and unsatisfactory.

   Cardinal Innovations commercial director, Peter Brook, with an example of the S- Box™  pop-up socket

Cardinal Innovations commercial director, Peter Brook, with an example of the S- Box™  pop-up socket

“Our latest dealer was financially damaged by 2017’s construction investment fraud and we are now at a standstill but over-run by demand from too many countries to re-focus on UAE individually.

“Being identified by the Chamber International research was very useful and well timed. Our rapid export expansion needs to include the UAE as our S-Box™ products fit many markets there, but really needs proper representation.

“The BCB meeting was very useful. I was able to present the product and its opportunities, and discuss a staged approach. We are a small company with a global product but with limited resources and manpower and introductions to the right people in UAE will help immensely.”

Zainab says: “Although Zixin and I targeted different national markets, we developed the research criteria between us and worked co-operatively so we completed this very interesting project on time.

“As we have degrees in management consulting, which involved studying topics such as management strategies, market analysis and research, it was exciting and useful for us to apply this practically to support companies in this way.”

Chamber International director, Tim Bailey, says: “Chamber International has a long history of providing internship opportunities to help give impressive, bright young people support with their careers so they can learn about some aspects of international trade.

“Zainab and Wendy worked on our day-to-day business as well as on these special projects. They brought fresh ideas and a sound analytical approach to researching client businesses and identifying market opportunities which look set to prove valuable for all those involved.”

Both Zainab and Zixin are available commercially to apply their research to help more exporters understand their potential to qualify for export support from Chamber International’s specialist partners in the UK and overseas. Zainab can be contacted on email: or Zixin can be contacted on email:


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