It is not every day you can combine robot thespians, a former Young Musician of the Year and the band of the Royal Dragoons to promote the UK’s IT sector. So Sunday will be a unique occasion.
And when the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of Germany take to the stage on Sunday evening in Hanover for the elaborate opening ceremony for CeBIT, it will also be a unique opportunity for the UK to showcase its IT excellence.
The UK is this year Partner Country at the world’s largest IT and telecommunications trade fair and around 130 British companies or institutions will be showcasing their innovative products and software solutions.
This group, nearly triple in size to the previous year and certainly using triple the exhibition space, will use the CeBIT opportunity to tell the story not just to German potential business partners and customers but to the world’s.
Across five days, more than 230, 000 visitors from more than 100 countries will be in attendance – and we will expect a good proportion to pass by the three different sites across the world’s largest trade fair grounds that are promoting the UK.
And there will be plenty to see both specifically related to our IT sector but also some generally British touches.
I can’t – and you wouldn’t want me to – list all the companies exhibiting, but I can tell you in terms of innovative products we will have 3D printers, robotic hands – indeed whole robots – and touchscreen keyboards. In terms of innovative software solutions – we have password encryption, augmented reality advertising and touchless gesture control for consumer electronics.
At the British Business Lounge, the oldest site on the Fair Ground and the former British Army Officers’ Mess (let us not forget that it was the UK that encouraged the Germans to host expos and build this enormous site) will have a traditional red British phonebox – although containing state-of-the-art teleconferencing technology.
Our message at the show is simple and twofold.
Firstly, we are a great exporting nation, and in this sector (employing 1.3m in the UK and worth €150bn) we have world-class products that we want the world to buy.
And, secondly, we are also a world-class destination for doing business. Many of the world’s largest IT companies have already invested in the UK and many more are planning to join them.
There will be GREAT branding adorning most of the trade fair site – and part of the airport and the town of Hanover itself – but just in case that isn’t enough to make you realise the UK is Partner Country, there will also be a couple of Bentleys (UK export, as a result of German investment)driving around the site, as VIP shuttles.
But the UK involvement doesn’t end after the PM’s departure on the Monday. Quite the opposite.
We have events throughout the week. Lord Livingston, our new Trade Minister (who used to be the CEO of BT and therefore is as expert on telecommunications as you could wish for) is hosting a dinner for CEOs at Schloss Herrenhausen – a building which historically links Hanover with the British Royal Family.
We are also hosting a ‘Leading Women in Tech’ event – a chance to bring together 100 leading female lights of the British, German and international tech scene.
As well as speakers like Dame Wendy Hall and BT Germany CEO Nina Wegner we will have a product demonstration and performance by young tech entrepreneur/singer/songwriter Beatie Wolfe.
There will be a start-up event, a big data event and a mobile event – you name the sub-sector, and we are likely to be hosting a seminar on it in our British Business Lounge.
But our presence at the show is not just about events, it is also about people. We are delighted that Tech luminary (and Tech City chairwoman) Joanna Shields will be offering the keynote at the UK-German IT summit and Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt will be speaking at the main Congress as well. They join the likes of Steve Wozniak (of Apple fame) and Jimmy Wales (look him up on Wikipaedia) as high-profile speakers at the event.
The UK being Partner Country at a German trade fair of this magnitude is a great (or, to stay on brand) GREAT opportunity to promote the IT industry. And indeed the UK in general.
Hence the array of talent we have put together for the opening ceremony. I don’t want to spoil the show, but if you go to this website at 6pm German time on Sunday, you can see it all for yourself.
An you can find more info at : www.cebit.de/en/exhibition/partner-country/