This week, we’re putting the spotlight on the Golden Bridge Awards, which the British Chamber is co-organising with the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain for a fourth consecutive year. This summer we’ve been looking back on the successes of some of our past winners – Netshield, Real Good Food Europe and Premier Farnell – as they described the milestones they’ve achieved, the progress they’ve made and the learning experience they’ve had since becoming winners.
One key thing we learnt is that winning a Golden Bridge Award is rather a kick-starter than an end goal in itself, and that as a participating company, you need to think about how you make the most of your win:
“I would see it as a journey and not as a destination. It’s all about how you build on the award after the gala. Who you meet and what you achieve after is the key”, said Richard Carty, Commercial Director at Netshield, elaborating that: “Through connections we’ve made in Belgium since the Golden Bridge Award, we have been able to see that there is life outside of Brussels, as we are starting to expand our client-base to Flanders.”
Our past winners also shared their experiences of doing business in Belgium:
“Everything can take that little bit longer, and that is especially true for the business environment. When you come to Belgium, you have to play the long game, where patience is key. But once you have a way in, you are guaranteed stable clients and a trustworthy market”, Richard Carty told us.
Belgium’s geographical position and bureaucracy are two other aspects to consider:
“Belgium has the benefit of being globally well located. I wouldn’t go so far as saying it’s ideal for business, but if you create the right framework then a lot of the local issues go away”, Jerry Vaughan, Global Operations Director at Premier Farnell said, with Thierry Dubois from Real Good Food Europe agreeing that: “one of the main challenges is definitely the administration and bureaucratic processes. I would advise any UK company entering Belgium for the first time to delegate as much as possible to an accounting office, lawyer’s office, or any kind of service that could give you a helping hand with the administrative work.”
Over the past few years, we’ve seen many different reasons for companies to apply for a Golden Bridge Award. For some, it’s all about the profiling that comes with the award win, for others the main objective is the related business development opportunities during the gala night and the follow-up events.
For Jerry Vaughan and Premier Farnell, the award helped to facilitate meetings with key stakeholders such as the British Ambassador and the Minister-President of Wallonia, while Thierry Dubois and Real Good Food discovered that the application process itself also offered a chance to reflect and recognise what the company had actually achieved:
“When you get busy growing your business and you are constantly striving to reach the next level, you usually don’t find the time to sit down and look back at what you have achieved. The award application process offered a great opportunity to do just that. Besides that, it was certainly a nice celebration party!”
If you think you have a great story to tell and would like to celebrate it with us, you might want to think about applying for this year’s Golden Bridge Awards. You will need to act soon, though, as applications close on Friday 11 September. Find all the information you’ll need here.
The Golden Bridge Awards recognise the trade and export success of UK companies doing business in Belgium, and Belgian & Luxembourg companies doing business in the UK. Companies of any size and in any industry can apply. Applications close in early September, and the winners will be announced at a high-level black-tie gala dinner in London on 26 November. Winning companies receive further recognition and profiling throughout the following year through the organising chambers. For more information on the awards and how to enter as a candidate, please contact James Pearson at firstname.lastname@example.org.