Trading Kingdoms: Export opportunities for Danish SMEs

Identifying opportunities is one of the biggest challenges


This year we chose to highlight the potential of SMEs, not only because they account for 99 percent of the total number of companies in Denmark, but because they also provided 65.5 percent of the employment to the working population and added 73 billion euros of value to the Danish economy in 2013. In addition, large multinationals will find it almost impossible to survive without these small and mid-sized companies as part of their value chain.

More to gain
Our first industry consultation this year looked into seeing what opportunities Danish SMEs could exploit beyond their traditional UK market entry. Even though the UK remains Denmark’s third largest trading partner, there is much more to gain from that market if approached differently.

For instance, leveraging the tax benefits for R&D in knowledge-intensive industries, in which Danish companies are quite competitive, or tapping into the UK’s highly skilled and flexible workforce for niche research. Even better, we saw that the UK can be used as a springboard to gain easy access to both the US and Commonwealth markets.

Challenges they face include identifying opportunities in new markets, access to available yet patient capital to facilitate any form of expansion and, but not the least, receiving the necessary guidance to ensure that the right steps are taken, the right partners are chosen and host country regulation is adhered to appropriately.

Lifting the burden
For a small or mid-sized company with only a few employees and a turnover of less than 5 million euros, this could be a huge burden and just not worth it. For instance, borrowing rates are at their all-time lowest, yet 20 percent of small companies seeking loans still get denied. This is one of the many pains that afflict Danish SMEs, which result in them going under with innovative ideas or getting bought out by US companies.

Our SME conference laid out a full cultural, administrative, geographical and economic differences (CAGE) framework in context for a select number of companies that were identified as ready for expansion into the UK. You can download our UK Market White Paper a at


Mariano A Davies

Mariano A Davies is the president & CEO of both the language learning provider Oxford Institute ( and the British Chamber of Commerce in Denmark ( BCCD, the Danish arm of a global network of British chambers, provides networking and facilitation through events and other professional services for the business community in Denmark.  

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