As I opened my BBC News App this morning to get the headlines, one story jumped straight off the page to me “CES 2017: UK support to tech firms 'an embarrassment'” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-38469141).
This story focuses on UK Start-up companies visiting the world’s leading Tech Exhibition - CES in Las Vegas - and not receiving an internationally competitive level support from the Department for International Trade. This is a problem that is all too real and one that we’ve experienced, time and again, whilst supporting our members.
As the organisers of the UK’s biggest advanced manufacturing showcase MACH, we understand the importance trade exhibitions hold for companies. They provide a chance to meet customers old and new and secure orders, as well as gaining publicity by showing their products to journalists and analysts establishing companies in new markets. Being able to showcase their company on the international stage can be a huge boost to business.
For many years the MTA has organised various Trade Missions each year for our members but we have found it increasingly difficult to compete with our international counterparts in terms of funding, and therefore the volume of exhibitors we take, the space available on the floor plans and our access to prime spots at the shows is affected.
In the BBC feature about CES it notes that “At this year's show, there are French, Ukrainian, Czech, Saudi Arabian, Dutch, Israeli, New Zealand and US stands organised by government-backed agencies to promote local talent.” We recognise that as the reality in our sector too. Last year we took a major mission to Turkey, and had presences at Shows in Russia, the USA and Japan - this year the big pushes are in China and Germany.
We are not asking government to foot the whole bill for companies wishing to go abroad, far from it. We know that International trade shows are a costly expenditure for any company but if you have decided to take that leap, you want to maximise the impact of your investment in exhibiting
We would like easier access to funding, clearer parameters for applications, longer lead-times for sourcing relevant companies and a more targeted approach to the key sectoral shows. We feel more leadership and help on the ground is needed. Companies want trade and export advice, they want to be able to attract the right decision makers to their stands, they want information on local customs and most importantly they want to do business.
A spokesman for the Department for International Trade is quoted as saying in the BBC feature "We want to help UK businesses make the most of trade and investment opportunities, through targeted support and bespoke business matching that better maximises their presence to win vital contracts abroad."
This year we have Europe’s biggest advanced manufacturing technology showcase, EMO Hannover 2017, 18th to 23th September, we hope the Department for International Trade will be providing us with some much needed targeted support for this important showcase.
James Selka, MTA, CEO
If you are interested in international exports or being involved in one of the MTA’s Trade Missions, please contact the MTA’s Head of Events James Fudge for more details via email firstname.lastname@example.org