frank peters - Fotolia
Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), claims the government has not done enough to support technology startups representing the UK at this year’s CES technology show.
Speaking at CES 2017, which is organised by the CTA, Shapiro described the government’s lack of support for the tech startups attending the show as “a source of embarrassment”.
He was reported to have said: “Britain has been a little slow to the game, honestly. We have a minister from Britain coming, but there is not a lot of activity that we’ve seen at CES. I think it’s a source of embarrassment.”
More than 50 British firms are attending this year’s show in Las Vegas, but some other countries are represented by four times that number.
Digital minister Matt Hancock is attending CES 2017 to show his support for the UK tech scene, and Paul Hide, director of operations at industry body techUK, said this was an important gesture.
Hide said: “In a post-EU referendum world, it is important that UK tech companies have export support and access to overseas markets, as well ensuring the UK remains an attractive place for international companies to invest in.”
Many argue that attending events such as CES can help startups build the networks they need to trade internationally and to scale up.
Late last year, the Department for International Trade launched an online digital trade hub to help businesses gain access to international markets.
But some say UK support for tech startups can be too London-focused, and Francis Turner, UK managing director of tech startup Adyoulike, said more should be done for tech companies in other parts of the country.
“There is much fanfare about the Silicon Roundabout, which is really a great thing but is, sadly, very concentrated on just one area,” he said. “If the truth be told, the government has done little to nothing to support our business – it was completely self-funded into a successful company. When looking for options to scale up and expand our business, both the UK government and financial institutions were not interested in helping us.”
The UK government currently runs a number of initiatives to support startups, including backing for Start Up Loans, through which eligible companies can receive funding of between £500 and £25,000.
The government also uses tech startups to support its own growth, offering government departments the use of startup services through the Digital Marketplace.
Also, the Department for International Trade recently selected a group of startups to help its development of an artificial intelligence, peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing collaboration and networking tool to support UK exporters.