A WEEK-long mission to promote Northern Ireland in China has been hailed a huge success and has generated at least one significant contract for a local firm.
County Antrim company, Texthelp, has agreed a partnership deal with the China Education Alliance (CEA), a provider of online education and onsite training in China as the trade mission to promote Northern Ireland business and tourism and education in the world’s second largest economy.
The deal was welcomed by First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness at the end of a busy week.
Enterprise and Agriculture Ministers Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill also took part in the trip which was attended by a wide variety of firms representing several important sectors including IT, food and drink and agriculture.
“I welcome this extremely significant development for one of our leading software businesses which underlines Northern Ireland’s standing as a centre of excellence for software development,” said Mr Robinson.
“This announcement comes at the end of a very successful trade and business mission which has underlined the importance of developing relationships with countries such as China.
“By constantly focusing on generating new business in external markets, firms such as Texthelp are bringing success to Northern Ireland and adding significant value to our economy. I look forward to observing the progress of the partnership between Texthelp and CEA and to celebrating the success of their new venture.”
Emphasising the importance of building international relations Mr McGuinness said: “China represents a very substantial growth opportunity for many local companies and I congratulate Texthelp for expanding and developing their software into international markets. Texthelp’s overseas success demonstrates the value of investing in research and development to help increase export success.
“Growing exports is a priority for the Executive in our steps to rebuild our economy. Success stories such as this are evidence of the right focus and approach on innovation and development of new markets.”
As part of the partnership, Texthelp will be providing a specifically adapted version of its English Hero software which assists English language learning through an easy-to-use toolbar containing support tools for students. CEA will be using the software to support its English Language learning students in China.
Welcoming the agreement Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “The partnership with CEA is Texthelp’s first in China and builds upon a relationship previously established during an Invest NI trade mission. It is a good example of an innovative local company that has grown over the last 15 years and adapted to the ever-changing technology marketplace.”
Mark McCusker, CEO of Texthelp said: “We have been exploring opportunities in China supported by Invest NI, and this partnership is a result of more than 12 months of research, in-country visits and relationship building. This is another success in a potentially very lucrative global market for English language learning and builds upon other international partnerships recently established in India and Brazil. The software has been adapted in conjunction with CEA specifically for the Chinese market and we will continue to work with CEA to develop this product and other language learning technologies going forward.”
Texthelp, based in Antrim, with offices in the USA, provides literacy and language learning software solutions to help support and improve the lives of people who have difficulty reading and writing and those for whom English is not their first language.
Texthelp has been supported by Invest NI with marketing and technical advice as well as assistance to research and develop new markets for their products.