CES – where up & coming UK tech connects with US audiences

As the curtain rose in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2020), the UK papers have pivoted west to give readers the best possible insights into what the next technology hype cycle will be and which companies we should be looking out for in the year ahead.

CES provides an opportunity for small, super smart technology companies, which would normally get overlooked as the latest Facebook or Apple scandals hit the headlines, to take centre stage in front of global consumers and investors alike. International and national publications, as well as digital channels, have reported on emerging technology companies in more niche sectors of the market.

Smaller companies take centre stage

Take Mirriad Advertising plc: with just a £34m market capitalisation would you expect to wake up, browse the Sunday news, and see an AIM listed, UK technology stock writ large all over BBC?

I’ll bet not, but come CES, Mirriad’s awesome AI  technology was broadcast to large audiences across the world as the BBC looked to highlight some of the exciting developments from the trade show.

So I find myself asking, why doesn’t the UK have something which provides such a platform for our home-grown success stories to set out their stall and dictate trends in the international technology landscape?

Why should emerging UK companies have to travel 5000 miles to showcase their products?

I appreciate we do have London Tech Week, and hats off to the organisers, it’s a really fantastic event with some of the most influential speakers and thought leaders from across the globe. But the objectives of the event seem different. Ultimately, why does it not stand shoulder to shoulder with CES or other trend setting events like MWC?

I dislike the term, but our very own Silicon Roundabout is producing some of the most innovative technology companies around. Large corporates, PE firms and VCs are all pouring money into UK technology businesses in order to stay abreast of fast-pace, changing consumer demands, as well as ride the wave of potential returns they may offer further down the line. Why is this not getting more attention?

Are we doing enough at London Tech Week to showcase our own success stories and create an international platform for smaller companies to raise their visibility?

True, we can’t promise sunshine, beaches and mid-morning margaritas like Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but with great technology stories as well as some of the world’s most influential media publications being based here in London, surely we could do something more to broadcast the success?

The UK technology sector isn’t short on success

Global-e, Revolut and Perkbox are some of those on the long list of London-based companies which are raising money and growing internationally at a phenomenal rate and, similarly, there is regional talent making waves in their respective niches; look at nDreams in the VR video gaming space. Could we not have an event that helped these companies make the headlines of the US press?

Then there’s the listed UK technology sector, which was one of the best performing sectors in 2019. In particular, our services companies like Aveva (LSE: AVV) and FDM (LSE: FDM) delivered significant shareholder returns with their internationally adopted offerings.

There’s companies working in ‘sexier’ areas of technology too, like Blue Prism (AIM: PRSM), in the AI space and Blancco Technology (AIM: BLTG) operating in data security. If London had an internationally acclaimed event like CES or MWC then these businesses would be given a platform to speak to a far wider group of investors and, ultimately, accelerate expansion and success.

It will come as no surprise that I haven’t come up with a witty acronym yet, but if we were to build a UK event, or even slightly re-think the agenda for London Tech Week, I believe we could do more to support UK technology sector growth.

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