Trade Mission New York: i4 Product Design

UK product design innovation is a sought-after commodity and companies like i4 Product Design exemplify the UK’s expertise in this area.

i4 Product Design is an Edinburgh-based product development company with a very impressive ten-year track record. During that time it has witnessed a considerable throughput of consumer, industrial, medical and technology products for clients in the UK and across Europe.

Managing director Brian Combe, pictured above, says that since its inception in 2003, the company has helped support its clients develop over 90 products for the marketplace and contributed to a great many more projects.

Already identified as a high-growth business by Scottish Enterprise, i4PD was invited to New York for the Santander Breakthrough Trade Mission to explore how the company might secure business in the US.

Combe readily accepted the potential stepping-stone to establishing i4PD’s expertise in the US. “I thought the concept was brilliant. Santander is very focused on developing commercial opportunities and I saw it as a first step in getting myself to a point where I might be presenting to potential clients,” he says.

While he did not want to prejudge the outcome, he recognised the trip was a valuable opportunity. “I wasn’t holding my breath in terms of securing instant business, but I knew I was going to learn about doing business in the US and would have the opportunity to learn the kind of rules and criteria that govern business conduct there. It was important to me to gain an understanding of US business culture. I went with a completely open mind.”

“I thought the concept was brilliant. Santander is very focused on developing commercial opportunities and I saw it as a first step in getting myself to a point where I might be presenting to potential clients.” - Brian Combe, i4PD

On his wish list was learning about how to set up in the US and how to go about gaining business support there. “The other thing I wanted to do was to put myself in touch with potential customers in the US.”

Pursuing his own contacts, Brian managed to set up a meeting with a large US medical device company. In addition – through Santander – he met with other businesses, including a public affairs company with UKTI, along with finance, tax and accountancy experts. “There was a lot involved in terms of digesting information about tax, employing US nationals and getting support when establishing your company within the state of New York,” says Combe.

Combe is in ongoing discussions with the contacts he met. “I have come away with the start of a good contact network, not only in terms of people I met there but also the other delegates. The old adage of ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ was re-enforced to me with my experiences from the trip.”

He is optimistic about outcomes further down the line. “I would hope that business will come via the contact network, we just need that little piece of luck in being presented with the first opportunity. We certainly have the skills and experience within the company to deliver quality product solutions given the chance. I need to try and spread the net to the point where I get opportunities to meet across the table with decision makers. The service we supply to our clients in the UK and Europe is transferable and although there is nothing like meeting face to face, much of what we do can easily be done remotely.”

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