UK’s lack of start-up support branded ‘an embarrassment’

The UK government’s support – or lack thereof – for tech start-ups attending this year’s CES show has been called a "source of embarrssment" by the event’s organiser. 

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CES organiser Consumer Technology Association, said that the government has not done much to encourage start-up technology firms, and compared the UK unfavourably with France, the Netherlands and Israel. 

"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," he said, stating that nearly five times as many French companies are attending this year’s show as compared to British firms.

In response, a spokesperson for the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) said that it was providing "targeted support" to these companies, adding that it would be more effective if UK attendees were 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."

According to one attendee – Smarter Applications managing director Isabella Lane – the country’s absence is very visible: "We’ve been invited to networking drinks from the Holland embassy and plenty of other European countries that have a presence there and support [their start-ups] by doing networking events. For us there is no UK government base at CES."

A UK Trade and Investment stand used to be present at CES, but this year there will be no stand.

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