Intel and Samsung may be the most familiar names that spring to mind when you think about micro-chips.
But one company based in North Somerset has carved out its own international territory regarding these specialist components.
Kember Associates, which is based in Yatton, is a hi-tech international science and technology organisation.
The company has established a global reputation for the management, design and building of fabrication factories which make the integrated circuits, commonly known as chips, which are the heart of such devices as mobile phones, laptops, cars and even in your fridge.
With 95% of its business export, and with the company celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its founding, its owner Peter Kember says that trade is booming.
“We’re in our twentieth year and we really haven’t been busier. The manufacture of micro-chips is now de-facto done abroad so we pretty much operate solely in foreign markets.
“Our core markets are in Russia, Singapore, India and China. A recent project I was involved in was the completed design and the overseeing of the installation of the first phase of a gallium arsenide fabrication factory at Tomsk in Siberian Russia.”
With such global clout, Peter is well-placed to discuss what more could be done by UKTI, government and related institutions to improve conditions for British exporters.
“It does seem that unless the ambassador is business orientated you don’t always get the service you require from an embassy.
“For example not so long ago the British Ambassador in Moscow hosted a breakfast for the governor of the Tomsk Region to boost bilateral business with the area which has a rich history in innovation.
“Many key businesses came to the meeting held at the British embassy. I was among those invited to attend.
“Unfortunately although I was introduced by the Ambassador to several of the key commercial staff in the Embassy, they have not responded to any of the emails I sent subsequently seeking assistance in various matters.
“It can sometimes feel that unless you’re a huge brand name or a big corporation you don’t always get the appropriate help.”
Advising smaller to medium sized British based exporter is an area that Peter is keen to broach.
So what initial advice would Peter give to businesses looking to enter export markets?
“You have to build up a relationship and see people in the eye, you have to go the trade shows and have a presence more than once to demonstrate you’re serious.
“It can take a long-time to build up a relationship. It took three years before we won our first contract in Russia and we had to keep plugging away.
“But once you get your foot in the door you get recommendations and it becomes easier.
“You also have to be adaptable and find out about the culture of the country and the business culture that you are looking to work in.
“Ultimately you have to understand your market, do lots of research and know where your product is going to fit.
“You have to be targeted and put in the time at the exhibitions and get yourself trusted and recognised.
“At the end of the day there will always be someone who wants to buy your product you just have to find them.”
Kember Associates is also a business with a clear five year plan.
Upcoming high-profile projects are about to begin in Russia, Malaysia and India and running alongside his highly specialised work related to micro-chips, science and engineering, Peter is also keen to do work in the UK in the form of training seminars to help smaller businesses people.
“Investment and growth in the future has to be from abroad and unless you’re a big business sometimes the support and help isn’t there.
“But small firms are the life blood of our economy. I’d like to get involved in helping them to continue succeeding.”
Science in action
With a physics degree from Bristol University and an MBA from the University of the West of England Peter has embarked on a number of cutting-edge technology projects around the globe which make you stand up and take note.
These include working as part of a small dedicated team to build a new factory to make electronic displays; training a team of 10 graduates in a new sensor technology for both military and civilian applications and working with a Chinese manufacturing company to a produce a small electronic device for the UK and China.
Kember Associates is also investigating how replacements for obsolete silicon integrated circuits might be economically produced in the UK and the USA; and is planning and then managing the rebuilding and modernisation of a silicon integrated circuit plant in India.
First e-book factory
Peter was also heavily involved in the opening of the first plastic e-book factory in Dresden Germany, a feat which he carried out with a specialist team from Plastic Logic, a company spun out from Cambridge University.
Exporting North Somerset
Being involved in such projects is a clear demonstration that high-end, cutting-edge services are being exported internationally from North Somerset; with Kember Associates pioneering this movement.
In its celebratory twentieth anniversary year Kember Associates are doing North Somerset proud and it is very much a case of watch this space regarding its role in the advance of science and technology.
To find out more about Kember Associates please visit: http://www.kember-associates.com/