Livingston, Shields And Shadbolt Talk Up Open Data, Tech City And UK IT At CeBIT

Lord Livingston, Joanna Shields and Sir Nigel Shadbolt promote the UK technology industry in Hannover

Lord Livingston, Joanna Shields and Sir Nigel Shadbolt have been promoting the UK IT industry at CeBIT in Hannover this week, discussing the importance of technology to the British economy and society, as well as the benefits of open data.

Speaking at a UK-Germany tech summit to mark Great Britain’s role as this year’s partner country for CeBIT, Minister for trade investment Lord Livingston said it was with “great delight” that the UK had overtaken France to become Germany’s biggest trading partner and it was a privilege to co-host this year’s show.

“CeBIT is a fantastic trade show,” he told the UK-Germany tech summit. “It’s about the only place where you can see the best of technology in one place at one time.”

Anglo-German relations

Lord Ian Livingston CeBIT 2014 (2) (800x600)

The UK has invited a number of smaller technology companies to exhibit at its stand, with Livingston reiterating the government’s desire to attract the best entrepreneurial talent to the UK through visa programmes, the reduction of bureaucracy and other incentives.

He also highlighted existing technological relationships between the UK and Germany, pointing out that Vodafone’s biggest market is Germany and that Software AG invests heavily in Britain, as well as new partnerships, such as the 5G agreement announced by the Prime Minister at the CeBIT opening ceremony.

“The UK and Germany are working together to bring Europe to the forefront of this technology,” he said.

Tech City

The UK’s startup scene was celebrated by Julian David, CEO of the UK technology industry trade group techUK, who showed off a video advertising various tech clusters around the UK, including Bristol, Edinburgh, Manchester and Newcastle. Meanwhile Tech City chairman Joanna Shields talked about the tech hub’s success stories and the Future 50 business acceleration programme.

“What all of these great businesses have in common is they prove that creativity, ideas and a fresh perspective to see the world in different ways is the new competitive edge,” she said. “All these entrepreneurs and the successful businesses they represent are proof that innovation is happening all across the UK and technology is a potent force for economic growth.”

Professor Dieter Kempt, head of techUK’s German equivalent Bitkom and German minister Brigitte Zypires both expressed their admiration for Tech City and their hope that the partnership will extend beyond this year’s CeBIT, but also demonstrated differing attitudes with regards to data privacy.

Differing privacy views

The vastly different views held by Germans on the issue of privacy have been a constant theme at this year’s CeBIT, the first since the revelation that Chancellor Merkel’s personal phone may have been tapped by the US National Security Agency, and Zypires said she hoped that Britain would learn from the privacy debate, noting that the amount of CCTV cameras in the UK would not be tolerated in her country.

Livingston agreed there was a need to protect data, but said there were many benefits and that Europe couldn’t risk being left behind through overprotection.

Sir Nigel Shadbolt discussed the Open Data Institute at this year’s event, while Shields was keen to show how the power of open data was able to assist victims of the recent floods though Flood Hack.

“What this proves it that technology and specifically open data can be an incredibly potent force for good. And when government is open and transparent and we collaborate more with each other, we all benefit,” she said.

“We understand that data protection is a significant issue in Germany,” added Livingston. “It is a significant issue in the UK.”

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CeBIT 2014: Opening ceremony and the UK

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CeBIT 2014