A South Coast-based business is preparing a shipment of 400 units of seaweed pasta and muesli to be stocked by a UK high-street supermarket, while a UK tech business that is sticking computer chips inside rugby balls has set up an Australian base in Wollongong.
These are just two of the businesses that are part of a growing Antipodean connection as local businesses go global and international businesses look to Wollongong for their Australian footprint.
Recently, the company received their first order from UK health food supermarket Holland & Barrett, which has more than 1000 stores around the UK.
"For us to be able to get in there, with the support of UK trade and investment here, it's fantastic," business development manager Laura Jackson said.
"We can get in there and start to build a relationship and market our product."
Rubbing shoulders with Phycohealth at the UOW's iAccelerate building is local head of operations at Sportable, a UK tech firm that is putting chips in sports balls to make them 'smart'.
The technology was used in Super Rugby Pacific games last year and captured statistics such as kick hang time, distance and passing accuracy and speed.
The company's Australian head of operations Lewis Laing is based in Wollongong, and said for UK businesses the Illawarra had unrivalled lifestyle attraction.
"There are parts of London that are very exciting and it's a huge metropolis, but you don't wake up in the morning to a beautiful sunny day and have parrots flying past your window," he said.
Sportable and Phycohealth were some of the Illawarra-based businesses hosted by UK trade envoy and former cricketer Lord Ian Botham in Wollongong on Wednesday.
Lord Botham said with the removal of 99 per cent of tariffs after the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement, "the doors are open" to businesses between the UK and Wollongong.
Ms Jackson said the UK was an attractive market for Illawarra and South Coast businesses looking to dip their toes into an international market.
"The UK is one of our primary markets overseas, because it's obviously a big market and they are already looking at having a more nutritious food source."
Heading in the other direction, Mr Laing said the free trade agreement made it easier to move staff between the two countries.
"If we have people from the UK who have a position in Australia, they can easily come down here and support us for a period of time, and vice versa."
Both also noted that the trade agreement made it easier to shape intellectual property, meaning manufacturing can occur in either market.
Beyond just the beaches and the lifestyle, Mr Laing said Wollongong's brains were an untapped resource.
"By all accounts the quality of the graduates that come out of UOW are very high, and that's good for business and good for talent sourcing."
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