UKTI Wants To See British IT Legacy From CeBIT Partnership

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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UK Trade & Investment’s Dan Rutstein tells TechWeek about how he hopes being CeBIT partner country will boost the UK technology industry

Everywhere you walk around Hannover it’s impossible to be ignorant of the fact that the UK is the partner country of this year’s CeBIT.

The UK Trade & Investment’s (UKTI) ‘Great’ campaign has been incorporated into the show’s branding, with adverts adorning the airport, restaurants, buses, trams and, predictably, the Jack The Ripper London Tavern in the city centre.

It forms part of the UKTI’s mission to promote the UK, specifically its technology industry, and strengthen ties with Germany on the 300th anniversary of the relationship between the British royal family and the house of Hannover, a celebration that Dan Rutstein, UKTI’s director of trade and investment in Germany, was keen to mark.

Anglo-German relations

Dan Rutstein UKTI“We wanted to do something commercial and being partner country for one of the big trade shows here in Hannover was the way to do that,” he told TechWeekEurope. “It’s all very well thinking about the history, but we’ve also got to look to the future and tech is the future.

“[CeBIT] is a massive deal and this is why we wanted to do it. Germans do trade fairs in a way that’s quite hard to understand in the UK. It’s a different scale. A third of the world’s trade fairs take place in Germany. When they do trade fairs, they really do trade fairs.”

CeBIT has presented UKTI with the perfect opportunity to promote the UK IT industry, with Prime Minister David Cameron formally opening the show alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while figures such as Lord Livingston, Joanna Shields and Sir Nigel Shadbolt have all made appearances.

UK IT legacy

Each year, the partner country is given more space to exhibit, and UKTI has taken advantage of that by substantially increasing the British presence from around 46 exhibitors to 130 and holding competitions for smaller companies to show their wares in Hall 6 and Hall 9 at the event.

Uk at CeBIT 2014 (4)Rutstein says the decision to reach out to smaller companies was deliberate as they would benefit the most from the exposure, many of whom need investment to continue their work. High profile visitors to the UK stand have included the Prime Minister, Angela Merkel and European Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

“People come to you because you’re partner country,” he said.

Inevitably, there will be less funding and publicity at CeBIT 2015, when a different nation will be partner country, but Rutstein wants to see a legacy from the UK’s involvement this year. He hopes more firms will exhibit at the show, and the UKTI will continue to take firms to Hannover, just as it does for other major trade shows like Mobile World Congress, SXSW and CES.

“I want to see a legacy from this, I want to see more companies here again,” he declared. “This is a chance for us to show the IT world what we’re offering.”

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