CES 2019 - techUK Blog by Paul Hide

So, we’ve now reached the business end of CES2019. The show floors are open and commerce begins in force. But first, I’ll step back to last night and the UK Department of International Trade (DIT) reception held on the Las Vegas strip, at the Waldorf Astoria.

It was 2 years ago, in 2017, that Matt Hancock, the then Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, attended CES and was rightly challenged by CES CEO, Gary Shapiro, as to why UK Government had no presence at CES and offered no support for UK companies to participate in this global international trade event. It was clear at the time that the UK lagged behind nearly every other nation of tech innovators and reinforced the message that techUK had made for some time that UK Government could and should do more to support UK companies at the world’s largest technology exhibition. Fortunately, Matt took note of these criticisms and, in 2018, techUK were able to run, for the first time at CES, a UK Pavilion, featuring UK start-ups, backed by UK Government.

Following on from the great feedback from last year, and the millions of pounds of sales opportunities created for the companies that exhibited on the Pavilion, DIT made a commitment to increase the support for UK companies in 2019, doubling the number of companies on the UK Pavilion and providing a meeting and networking area in Eureka Park, which all UK companies can make use of whilst working at the show.

To kick off this year’s show, our Secretary of State for International Trade, the Rt Honourable Liam Fox MP, hosted a reception on the Monday evening on behalf of the 100 UK companies that are exhibiting at CES this year.

Mr Fox added his support for UK business attending the show and made the point that the trading relationship between the UK and the USA is as strong and valuable as any global country partnership. He also reinforced the message that the UK will continue to be an attractive place in which to invest, whatever the final outcome of Brexit. Our skilled workforce, flexible labour laws, IP protection and competitive corporation tax rates will continue to keep us competitive on the world stage. techUK are again supporting the running of the UK Pavilion, helping support innovative UK businesses to create impact on the global marketplace.

Day 3 started early with the opening CES key note address. 

Led by CES CEO, Gary Shapiro, supported by CTA Director Karen Chupka and with key note speaker, Ginni Rometty , CEO and President of IBM.

Gary opened with his usual energy and upbeat delivery. 4,500 exhibitors at this year’s show, including 1,200 start-ups representing 155 countries, regions and territories. He highlighted the latest view from the CTA Global Innovation Scorecard. This innovation scorecard provides some very interesting feedback on the relative attractiveness for innovation across the globe, scoring countries on a number of metrics. It’s well worth a read and a link to the scorecard is below:

https://www.cta.tech/Policy/Innovation-Scorecard.aspx

The UK features highly, as last year.

Liam Fox was invited on-stage, alongside Government representatives from Holland and Estonia, and re-iterated the message he delivered the night before as to why the UK remains an innovative catalyst for technology.

Ginni Rometty’s keynote was titled “What Next”. What’s next for data, what’s next for computing and what’s next for society. The keynote considered deep data applications, broad AI, utilising quantum computing, and how advanced technologies will help transform health and transportation. Ginni shared the stage with speakers from Delta Airlines, Walmart and Exxon Mobile who delivered case study insights. For example, Blockchain is now being used by Walmart to manage food waste and safety by providing real time tracking and traceability of fresh food from the farm to the supermarket shelf, reducing waste and increasing the efficiency of the supply chain.

The IBM Watson Research Centre has launched  ‘Q System One’, the world’s first integrated quantum system. IBM quantum computing power is now being used by a global community of testers with over 6.7m experiments having been completed on the cloud platform.

Ginni summarised by saying that AI may not remove jobs but 100% of jobs will be different as a result of AI. IBM are focussed on their trust and transparency principles. She closed with “Trust will be a competitive differentiator”.

So, now the show floors open and the real business begins. My focus now is visiting the breadth of our members at the show, large and small, gaining insights into the opportunities and challenges for the year ahead.

The UK Pavilion enjoyed a busy first day,

with a mix of media, investor and buyer enquiries throughout the day. This should set the scene for a productive 4 days for our UK start-up exhibitors.

The weather, unlike last year, has set fair, the crowds are out in full force and the smell of money being made is in the air. Viva Las Vegas!

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