By Hanna Ziegler
MISSOULA, MT, USA - The Montana World Trade Center (MWTC) at the University of Montana is introducing a tech export initiative, TechEx. The initiative will help Montana businesses in industries such as cloud computing, photonics and bioscience move to the forefront of technical exports by bringing together an experienced team in international trade and technical law and offering practical training based on the every-day experience of real Montana companies. The Tech Export Team will be officially introduced November 15 at a TechEx kickoff event, Wisetail Tells It’s Tale, at Missoula’s downtown First Interstate Bank. Members of the new team will weigh in on best practices in a live case study after Wisetail CEO and founder Justin Bigart shares his story as a Software as a Service (SaaS) company selling internationally. Businesses may register to attend the free event at mwtc.org. Seating is limited.
“For nearly two decades, MWTC has served Montana as a trusted advisor for businesses wanting to connect globally and prosper locally. The TechEx Initiative is designed to give Montana-based SaaS companies like Wisetail and others an edge in exporting these services to other markets,” MWTC Executive Director Brigitta Miranda-Freer said.
“These companies have largely geographically agnostic business models. They’re thriving in Montana because their knowledge-based workers demand the types of lifestyle amenities our state provides. They will become an increasingly important part of our state’s economic base and certainly our base of exporting companies, given that they are not subject to the traditional geographic barriers to export. We need to do what we can to fan the flame and expedite the international market entry and expansion efforts of these firms.”
According to a 2015 report from the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Montana’s high-tech and manufacturing industry is growing eight times the rate of the Montana economy. In Missoula, tech companies like Submittable and EDULOG are growing and leaving their marks, and according to the Montana High-Tech Business Alliance’s February profile, 16.4 percent of companies in the alliance are software/SaaS companies.
But not every company has found the help it needs to expand.
“Technical assistance for these types of technology exports is difficult to obtain,” Miranda-Freer said.
Common problems that exporters have to navigate include a lack of uniformity in export regulations, security considerations and tax structure, and while the global demand for cloud computing technology is clear, export figures are elusive given the rapidly changing nature of the industry. However, projections regardless of source point to a strong global market with anticipated exponential growth.
“TechEx will provide a novel, comprehensive approach to solving these issues for cloud computing, photonics and bio-related businesses across Montana,” Miranda-Freer said. “Beginning in November, MWTC will provide access to a team of export professionals, as well as targeted trainings in application of VAT, regulated exports, international intellectual property protection and other topics designed to increase Montana’s technology exports—an important and growing part of Montana’s economy moving forward.”
The team consists of four experts, leaders and entrepreneurs: Justin Cook, certified U.S. export compliance officer; Joel Henry, senior counsel with Michael Best and co-founder of Agile Data Solutions; Angela Marshall Hofmann, founder and president of World Strategies LCC; and Antoinette Tease, intellectual property attorney.
Together, these dynamic members of MWTC’s Tech Export Team aim to move the needle on Montana’s tech-based exports by giving businesses access to their knowledge and experience. Initial free consultations and discounted service packages will be available for MWTC members. All others welcome. Please contact MWTC for information regarding upcoming training on topics of common interest to exporting technology firms.
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