CES organiser on UK government design news

UK government's support for tech startups is an embarrassment, says CES organiser

The organiser of Las Vegas technology show CES has branded the UK government's alleged lack of support for startups in the field a "source of embarrassment".

Gary Shapiro made the comments to the BBC ahead of the opening of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show this week.

The event organiser also said the UK's success in the field was being eclipsed by countries including France, the Netherlands, and Israel.

"Britain's been a little slow to the game honestly," he said. "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."

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

According to the BBC, there are nearly five times as many French companies attending this year's event as British ones – something Shapiro attributes to the French government focusing on helping its entrepreneurs.

He feels this attitude hasn't been adopted by UK ministers, who he claims have a "short-sighted attitude".

"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 South by Southwest, but because it's Las Vegas, for some reason it's frowned upon'. And that's a pretty short-sighted attitude," said Shapiro.

However, a spokeswoman for the UK's Department for International Trade (DIT) said that it was providing "targeted support" to its country's startups.

But UK startup Smarter Applications – which is launching a fridge webcam at CES that alerts owners when food nears its expiry date – disagreed, stating that other countries had offered them support when the UK hadn't.

"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 startups] by doing networking events," said managing director Isabella Lane.

"We don't have anything of that ilk and there is no UK government base over at CES."

The 2017 edition of CES kicks off on 5 January, and will see the launch of new products from hundreds of both well-established brands and new startups.

Products on show at last year's event included a smart sports bra that gives wearers instant workout feedback, and Segway's latest personal transportation device that doubles as a robotic companion.