To boldly go...

Whenever anyone talks about “markets” these days they tend to put the word “global” in front of them.  The truth is that, with the almost instant communications we enjoy from the Internet and the reasonably easy transport systems that encircle the planet, if you really want to, you can find out about products around the world, buy them and have them shipped directly to you.  That means that any company that is planning to develop and sell new products always has an eye to selling them beyond their home country.

In truth, it’s not really that easy to make happen in practice, although it is easy to link the concepts and imagine making it work.  But, you need either amazing perseverance or friends who have done it before to be able to achieve it without extreme fatigue.  That is where UK Trade and Investment come in.  Their website simply states that “UKTI works to boost UK export performance, attract foreign direct investment to the UK, and enhance the UK’s reputation in global markets. We are the best trade promotion organisation in the developed world”.

As companies that we have supported come to the end of their projects, they want to move from development of new products to exploitation and sales.  That is why, over the last year or so, we have been working more and more with UKTI.  Last week, saw an important development in our working relationship as we supported their Technology World event – although you will find that their website has already moved on to next year’s event!

The meeting, held in a very cold Excel Centre, saw about 1000 people from around the world come to see a range of UK businesses talk about their products and services.  I gave one of the opening presentations, squeezed between Larry Hirst (an ex-IBMer and chair of the UKTI Technology Marketing Strategy Implementation Board) and Simon Jewell (the Managing Director of Strategic Capability Solutions for BAE Systems).  Each of us presented a facet of why the UK is a great place to do business. Larry talked about the pervasiveness of modern Information and Communications Technology and Simon about the translation of defence technologies to answer the growing needs of the wider security industry.  I outlined our most up to date thoughts on the challenge that faces companies wanting to be as innovative as possible and how we are evolving our focus and toolkit to help them.  The audience seemed to get a lot out of the talks and we all had lots of questions afterwards.

Back at the Technology Strategy Board stand, we all put our coats back on – we were just inside the front door and the cold wind that came in through it – and started the process of meeting the attendees.  At various points we talked to the Japanese about the challenges of the having an ageing society, the Taiwanese about energy generation, the Chinese about smart grids and a few of the UK representatives about what they do!  I am still entering the business cards I collected on the day into my name and address book.

The evening saw us coached down to Greenwich for the Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony in the Painted Hall.  The evening was compered by Elizabeth Varley, the CEO of TechHub and there were speeches by Edward Oakden of UKTI and John Higgins of Intellect before the prize-giving.  Intrinsiq Materials, PhotonStarLED and AEP Networks won the top slots in the nanotechnology, energy and digital categories.  The only shame was that the Hall was almost as cold as Excel but we couldn’t really wear our coats, so I think the antifreeze was all that kept many conscious!  I learned a lot about a couple of companies that have invested in the UK and who are expanding their operations here and swapped details of our role and activities.

We are still learning about UKTI and the range of its operations but the eight or so Technology Strategy Board people who survived the arctic Excel now have more friends in our sister organisation and we will be better able to make the right connections between the businesses we support through our activities and those who can help them make the right contacts overseas.


Last updated on Friday 24 February 2012 at 10:06

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