Last week, I attended the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington DC at the invitation of US Ambassador Matthew Barzun. The event brought together investors from all over the world, economic development organisations, high-level US government officials and world business leaders. John Cridland from CBI and Simon Walker from IOD were also invited.
In his keynote address, President Barack Obama discussed the key advantages for companies investing in USA. He made the point that the USA is already by far the biggest destination for foreign direct investment, but he is determined to maintain growth. During his speech, Obama identified the key reasons for investing in the USA: it is very business friendly, supports innovation in all aspects, has fantastic universities, it is a huge market, has a very good legal framework, good infrastructure, and available finance.
Obama highlighted the activities his administration is undertaking to make sure this positive environment continues to improve, particularly working on skills, immigration, digital infrastructure and physical infrastructure.
Obama personally set up the SelectUSA organisation and ensures all US embassies have a commercial focus. The success of this approach was evidenced by the attendance at the conference of 2,600 people from over 70 countries.
As well as the president, there were speeches from Penny Pritzker Commerce Secretary, Jacob Lews Treasury Secretary and John Kerry Secretary of State. In addition Megan Smith, US Government CIO, hosted a panel on innovation and there were speeches from US Business leaders such as Warren Buffett and Eric Schmidt.
The key takeaway for the UK technology industry was the importance of our relationship with the USA in supporting start-ups and fast growth companies to achieve their full potential but also a question as to why the UK does not have an equivalent annual event (we did one at the 2012 Olympics).
I also took advantage of my visit to meet with several US based members including IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and Google to discuss EU and trade concerns with their policy leads.
I also met with our equivalent organisation ITI and with ITIF a Washington think tank and visited 1776 a Washington accelerator focused on health, energy and cities.
Finally I met with Megan Smith who is happy to discuss innovation in UK Government with us in the future and with the Department of Homeland Security to review our MOU for cyber and security solutions.