Government support for UK Start-ups at CES described as ‘embarrassing’
The government's lack of support for UK start-ups going to CES has been described as a, "source of embarrassment," according to one of the events’ organisers.
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), compared the UK unfavourably with France, the Netherlands and Israel with the head of one British firm, out in Las Vegas, saying the criticism was well-founded. The UK's Department for International Trade defended itself by saying it was providing "targeted support".
There are nearly five times as many French companies attending this year's CES than British ones with Mr Shapiro commenting that there had been an annual increase in numbers over the past few years thanks to Paris making greater effort to help its entrepreneurs.
"Now we're starting to see other countries take notice," the president of the CTA added. "We've seen that the Netherlands and others going in there big time. Britain's been a little slow to the game honestly. We have a minister from Britain coming but there's not a lot of activity that we've seen at CES. I think it's a source of embarrassment.”
"When I was in London recently, I raised it with one of the ministers, and they said: 'Yeah, it's amazing. I can get approval to go to South by Southwest (held in Texas), but because it's Las Vegas, for some reason it's frowned upon.’ And that's a pretty short-sighted attitude."
At this year's show, there are French, Ukrainian, Czech, Saudi Arabian, Dutch, Israeli, New Zealand and US stands organised by government-backed agencies to promote local talent. But a spokeswoman for the UK's Department for International Trade (DIT) said it thought it was more effective for UK attendees to base themselves elsewhere in product-themed areas.
"The UK continues to be a world-leader in the tech and innovation industry, and events like CES can provide UK businesses with vital contacts to build their brand abroad," she said.
"We want to help UK businesses make the most of trade and investment opportunities including in the US, through targeted support and bespoke business matching that better maximises their presence to win vital contracts abroad."
The spokeswoman added that the minister for digital and culture, Matt Hancock, would meet British exhibitors when he stopped in for half a day before travelling on to meet music industry leaders in California.
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