‘Britain is falling behind France in terms of tech innovation’ – CTA’s Gary Shapiro

France has leapfrogged Britain in the tech world in terms of investment and innovation, says Gary Shapiro from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

The president and CEO spoke to PCR during a press day promoting CES Asia, which takes place in Shanghai next week (May 11th to 13th).

Shapiro said: "The bottom line of it is – I think Britain needs to step up its act in terms of its innovation presence, because there’s a huge innovation push here but what we see is France leapfrogging [Britain], in terms of investment, innovative products and senior level government focus. 

"There’s Tech City in London, so there’s definitely a desire but there’s not the marketing presence that’s needed.

"We had 45 exhibitors from the UK at CES in Las Vegas this year. That’s 45 out of about 3,800, so that’s a little over one per cent of our exhibitors. By comparison, we had well over 100 visitors from France."

While there were 2,600 UK attendees at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year, up from 1,745 a year prior, as well as a ten per cent increase in UK exhibitors at the tech trade show, Shapiro says the UK should be doing more.

"I would’ve thought five years ago that the UK would have higher exhibitor levels, but it’s totally shifted. 

"I think the French Government has figured out there’s a bargain in [CES startup area] Eureka Park. The Economic Minister for France has been to CES for two or three years in a row now. He makes a big deal. They do it as a government. They really push innovation."

Shapiro also commented on the idea of UK leaving the European Union, and what that could mean for the tech industry, as well as the value of the pound to the dollar.

54% think EU exit will be good for tech channel

He said: "Well the pound is very strong; if you were part of the Euro you’d have a huge issue. The differential between the pound and the Euro is huge.

"I know there’s a lot of fear and doom if Britain was to leave the EU. I don’t claim to be an expert on it, but I do know the relationship between Britain and the United States is very strong, and it will be very strong under any scenario.

"I also know that the relationship with Canada would be good. Out of all the cities I’ve been in lately – including the cities in China – I see more construction work in London than anywhere else. So, construction is an indication to me of investment in the future and an economy that will do well.

"I’m pretty optimistic about the future of England under any scenario, whether it stays in or stays out. There is a lot of economic activity – it’s very, very healthy here."

CES Asia takes place from May 11th to 13th in Shanghai

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