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Innovate 2016 - an international perspective

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Innovate 2016 international perspective, glocalization

Please send a letter and ask for the company details, send it first class mail and mark it urgent we need the information in two weeks, in time for the submission deadline. - Anonymous CEO, 1997

Only a matter of 30 odd years ago this was a typical request by a company needing crucial information about a supplier, customer or partner where two week’s turnaround was considered fast.

Today access to information is instant and delivered in whatever mix or format is needed to individual needs and preferences as the global digital economy continues to grow at an ever increasing rate.

The lines between local and global business have become blurred to the point of extinction, with this particularly the case in the technology industry, with few technology businesses operating within a single sector or value chain, let alone within a single market - whether for supply of materials or in search of customers.

At every level a technology business must think global, whether in considering its R&D collaboration, go to market strategy or when targeting global customers. Of course we all know this, its common sense right? However, talking is one thing and doing is quite another.

Innovate 2016 and the event series over the past years has looked to focus on and support the ‘doing’ aspect of this business need. It has brought together the whole technology innovation ecosystem, both UK and International, including:

  • universities
  • start-ups
  • scale-ups
  • incubators
  • accelerators
  • end users
  • investors
  • support services

Innovate 2016 provides a one-stop environment to access the thought leadership of today’s most disruptive technology sectors as well as bringing together the innovators who are delivering the next generation of technology and application solutions.

I have been fortunate over the past 40 years to have had a practical insight into tech markets around the world, working with governments, multinational brands and tech start-ups in all continents.

The one constant has been the reality that while we all talk about the innovative products and solutions we are developing, it is first and foremost people who are the catalysts of innovation.

It’s all about the people stupid…!

With the complexities of innovating with advanced technologies, the multiple disciplines needed—involving a myriad of skills and scientific knowledge—no company can bring to market a solution without the involvement of partners and collaborators. This alone has driven the model of ‘open innovation’.

It is in this context that Innovate 2016 provides the environment for the tech ecosystem to come together and find the partners, collaborators and services needed.

Innovate 2016 reflects the ever increasing pressure on ‘go to market’ strategies for the innovation start up—from idea through development to commercialisation.

With Innovate UK and the Department for International Trade (DIT) partnering in delivery we have on show the largest technology ecosystem in the UK possible.

I’m excited that international delegates from all around the world, with representation last year from more than 32 countries, are able to see some of the best in UK innovation. Not just early stage technology development, but also market ready businesses looking to scale.

With the emergence of new areas of disruptive technology such as graphene, robotics, AI & machine learning, VR/AR and data analytics, it’s good to see these well represented at Innovate 2016.

Many times we meet overseas companies looking to source technology with the perennial question of ‘what have you got’? replied with ‘what do you want’?

With activities that include pre-qualified business matching and the support zone, we go some considerable way to break this question and answer impasse to ensure an acceleration of discussion when the parties meet.

From start-ups to scale-ups

Innovate 2016 international perspective, scaleup
Start-up to scale-up

It is recognised that “crossing the chasm” from start up to scale up represents one of the biggest challenges for a tech business. At the very moment of proving the product in the marketplace and winning those crucial early use cases, the company is distracted by the needs to bring on board new staff, gaining investment funding and building a sales pipeline on a global scale.

Crucial to getting across this chasm is again people and a keen focus and prioritisation of what the business needs. It is the time when leadership and management skills come to the fore.

We see many start-up businesses fail during this period, not because of a poor product or solution but due to the lack of experience and focus. Many start-ups benefit from mentors and coaches at this stage of their growth whether within their executive ranks or through non-exec involvement.

There is nothing as good as pragmatic and experienced advice to help guide a young start-up.

UK Government agencies combine to support business internationally

Both DIT and Innovate UK look to provide UK companies support in trading overseas as well as international companies support in entering the UK market.

Innovate 2016 provides a perfect example of Universities, the UK research base, tech start up and scale up community, large multinationals and end users all working together with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

With the opportunity to meet and understand international markets Innovate 2016 provides UK tech companies the chance to really understand the benefits that their solutions offer.

It is so easy for companies to speak about the features of their products. Trouble is customer don’t typically buy features. It is the benefits that are bought and these are often articulated in quite a different way to the features.

Through exposure to the international markets and buyers the UK tech companies are able to better understand the needs of the local market and how they may adapt their solution to best fit with greater chance of early success.

Remember it’s all about going local, globally. Most important is to adapt to local needs for cultural, language and market conditions… nobody buys toothpaste, they buy the benefits of white teeth!

Innovate 2016 international perspective, white teeth

Follow me on Twitter: @jaykdee

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