UK government support for startups at CES 'embarrassing'

European and Israeli firms receive much greater levels of assistance, organiser claims

Las Vegas sign

The government is failing to give UK-startups the support they need to thrive at CES, the conference's organiser has said, revealing companies from France, the Netherlands and Israel are much better supported by their respective governments.

According to BBC News, Gary Shapiro said the assistance companies from the UK receive is "a source of embarrassment", despite some of them offering innovative solutions that give a competitive advantage over similar firms.

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This view was supported by many of the tech companies attending the Las Vegas-based event, despite the UK government counter-claiming it is providing "targeted support" for such businesses.

"Now we're starting to see other countries take notice," Shapiro said. "We've seen that the Netherlands and others going in there big time. 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."

Shapiro went on to say he has raised his concerns with members of the UK government, saying the fact it's hosted in Las Vegas is the biggest issue because it's frowned upon by other ministers.

"When I was in London recently, I raised it with one of the ministers, and they said: 'Yeah, it's amazing. I can get approval to go to [Texas festival] South by Southwest, but because it's Las Vegas, for some reason it's frowned upon'," he recalled. "And that's a pretty short-sighted attitude."

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Although CES organisers are attempting to make it easier for smaller companies to get the recognition they deserve from journalists by offering lower rates for startups to attend with its Eureka Park startup zone, the Department for International Trade (DIT) thinks it provides better exposure if the companies exhibit alongside similar companies, however big or small.

"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," a DIT spokeswoman told BBC News.

"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."

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