Science and TechnologyWritten evidence submitted by Simon Payne

1. You can make a difference, so I hope to get your backing, support and involvement in an event that will celebrate 100 years of manufacturing in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2012 and help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the UK develop an export drive.

2. If the UK is to rebalance its economy from the public to the private sector, and towards increased exports and investment, then it needs to find ways to encourage more UK firms to export. The focus is now on UK SMEs who currently export less than in other EU countries.

3. I know how daunting it is for an SME to try and tackle a global market. Eight years ago the Cambridge Technology Group set up XJTAG (www.xjtag.com), a subsidiary company specialising in electronics test software. Like many SMEs, XJTAG started by selling just in the UK; now over 70% of its sales come from exports. Much of what we have achieved has been from organic growth and some funding from within our group, while practical assistance and funding from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is helping us realise our global ambitions.

4. Over the past eight years, I have attended some of the best electronic trade exhibitions around the world; the most successful of which are held in Germany. Over this same period, I have seen a steady decline at UK electronics exhibitions, to the point where today the best attended electronics exhibition in the UK is held in a tent.1

5. Electronics is perhaps unique in that it has transformed almost every industry and all of our lives—and therein lies part of the problem. The technology industry is massively fragmented in the UK and each sector tends to put on its own small exhibition that is, more often than not, poorly attended, with an average of 1,150 people visiting events in the UK compared with 24,000 in the rest of the world.2

6. The UK does have some of the best research and development (R&D) in the world. As a country the UK is punching well above its weight with some of the best examples of UK innovation provided by the international businesses, products and brands that are developed in the UK.

7. But UK international companies aren’t exhibiting in the UK, so where is the central attraction for overseas trade visitors and investors to come and see the best of what the UK has to offer?

8. The UK needs its industry leading lights to help showcase what is great about the UK, and provide the international brand recognition that will attract overseas trade visitors and investors to the UK. SMEs in the UK can benefit greatly by exhibiting alongside these established players in the market who will attract interest from buyers and investors from around the world.

9. We need to look no further than Germany to see what can be achieved. Below are brief details on just two technology events, Productronica takes place every other year, alternating with Electronica. Both take place in November and are based in Munich.

10. Productronica 2011 reported a 34% increase in visitor numbers on the previous year it was held. 38,500 people from more than 80 countries attended the show, and the proportion of international visitors rose from 39 to 48%. (www.productronica.com)

11. The year before, in 2010, Electronica reported a total 72,185 trade visitors—with 47% of visitors and 59% of exhibitors coming from outside Germany. (www.electronica.de)

12. The good news is that UK trade event organisers are now working together to create an exhibition that would get the UK electronics/manufacturing industry back on the international events calendar, and attract significant overseas interest.

13. Between 16–20 April 2012, eight exhibitions will be co-located at the NEC Birmingham. Alongside National Electronics Week (NEW:UK) www.nationalelectronicsweek.co.uk there will be: Air-Tech, Drives and Controls, IFPEX, Plant & Asset Management, Electrex, IPEE and Mach 2012—which is celebrating 100 years of UK manufacturing achievement.

14. Mach (www.machexhibition.com) takes place every two years. In 2010 Mach attracted 20,000+ trade visitors. With your assistance we want to attract even more visitors in 2012 turning what should be a good event into a great one.

15. What can you do to help?

16. In the spirit of unity, co-operation and collaboration between the pubic and private sector:

17. TechWorld (www.techworld.uk.com) is a UKTI funded stand alone exhibition and conference currently due to run at ExCeL London in November at the same time as Electronica mentioned above. In 2011 TechWorld attracted an estimated 2,000 visitors and 190 exhibitors.

18. I have had a number of meetings with officials at UKTI and while some support has been forth coming for NEW:UK/Mach there appears to be some reluctance to move the TechWorld event. This may in part be due to the way finances are allocated and the length of time that it takes for budgets to be signed off. However I am sure that with your backing, support and encouragement that UKTI could be persuaded to move TechWorld to co-locate alongside the eight exhibitions above to the benefit of everyone involved.

19. The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) run a stand alone event called “Innovate” (2011 Innovate attracted an estimated 2,000 visitors and 180 exhibitors). I am sure that with your backing support and encouragement that the TSB would run their event alongside TechWorld, and the other eight events listed above.

20. It’s great to have ARM (www.arm.com) exhibiting, Cambridge Wireless (www.cambridgewireless.co.uk) championing the Wireless Zone and the Electronics Technology Network (www.etn-uk.com) sponsoring the IP Brokerage Zone at NEW:UK.

21. Now we need to encourage the involvement of more of the UK’s international business leading lights and organisations in the technology and advanced manufacture sectors to exhibit and showcase their technology at one event in the UK.

22. The UK’s international technology leading lights are doing a great job of exporting for the UK but as the vast majority of their clients are overseas and the UK only represents a small percentage of their business sales there is very little incentive for them to exhibit in the UK.

23. To create an effective international exhibition we need to have the UK’s international technology leading lights exhibiting and showcasing their technology in the UK to help us create a mega exhibition that will attract large numbers of overseas visitors and investors.

24. International businesses who are resident in the UK may consider that they have a corporate responsibility towards their host nation that has provided the social and economic conditions that have contributed towards their growth and development however this in itself is not enough to get their full support.

25. Please can you find a way to encourage the involvement of more of the UK based international technology leading lights and organisations to work together and participate in mega UK exhibitions that will get the UK back on the international events calendar?

26. SMEs also need help and assistance in marketing and sales to help them better understand the sales process, to have suitably trained staff and help with creating exhibition displays that properly interact with and engage trade visitors. Funding is need for this activity but also mentoring from more experienced exporters would help.

27. All too often marketing is seen as a dark art and sales as evil, something to forecast in a spreadsheet for the future. Businesses often lose focus and pursue the next R&D grant or round of funding for more technical development because feature creep becomes addictive and R&D never ends until the money runs out usually well before a commercial product is produced.

28. Please can you help SMEs develop their sales and marketing ability and provide additional financial support for this activity both in the UK and overseas?

29. Please can you help civil servants have a better commercial understanding of the requirements of SMEs by arranging for them to have work placements with the organisations they are trying to assist both large and small.

30. Please can you invest in suitable exhibition centres that can accommodate mega exhibitions with conference facilities and breakout meeting rooms. Can any of the Olympic 2012 buildings be used for this purpose?

31. Please can you invest in life size telepresence/video conferencing facilities at centres in British embassies overseas and at major business centres in the UK. This would allow a number of one to one meetings to take place between SMEs and prospective overseas clients. This would provide a stepping stone approach to exporting and allow everyone to give their best and operate in their own time zone. Having a number of good pre-qualified business leads gives justification and value to going on an over seas trade mission or visit. It is also a green solution so has a great carbon footprint.

32. Please can you help unite an industry to create bigger and better showcase events in the UK?

33. Please can you act quickly?

34. The strategy being pursued out at the moment is to get event organisers too co-located at the same venue and working together, but importantly each event organiser running their own exhibition, each will appeal to a separate part of the technology market. This will increase the appeal of the event as a whole as there will be so much more to see and do offering value for money to both exhibitors and visitors.

35. With the right level of support an over-arching brand could be created to encompass all of the exhibitions that have co-located at the National Exhibition Centre in April. This is a golden opportunity to provide a link with the UK’s past and present achievements and showcase UK R&D, technology and manufacturing, and once again be at the centre of Industry of all Nations by calling it “The GREAT Exhibition” or “The GREAT Britain Exhibition”.

36. With London hosting the Olympics the eyes of the world will be watching the UK what better time could there be to show your support for UK technology and manufacturing sectors and help UK SMEs establish trading links to the rest of the world?

37. As Lord Coe, Chairman of London 2012 said on the BBC News “This is a country that is open for business and we need to use every opportunity we can off the back of the games to showcase the fantastic creativity, our fantastic businesses, our artistic endeavour, our sporting endeavour and most crucially what we are as a nation.”

38. There may be no quick fixes but there are opportunities that should be taken when they present themselves. I hope you will consider this to be one of them and go for it.

39. Your backing, support and involvement can make a good exhibition great for Britain.

Declaration of Interest

40. Simon Payne is the Chief Executive of the Cambridge Technology Group Ltd, Adiabatic Logic Ltd, Cambridge Technology Consultants Ltd, Cambridge Design Centre Ltd, Midas Blue Ltd, Midas Green Ltd, Midas Yellow Ltd, XJTAG Ltd and XJTAG Inc. He is the Chairman of the National Electronics Week (NEW:UK) Steering Committee. XJTAG is a sponsor and exhibitor at NEW:UK and has a founder membership with Cambridge Wireless. XJTAG has exhibited and been a sponsor of the UKTI event TechWorld. Cambridge Technology Group and its subsidiaries are members of the Electronics Technology Network. ARM is an XJTAG client.

February 2012

1 Southern Manufacturing and Electronics.

2 Showcasing electronics in the UK April 2009 Intellect.

Prepared 11th March 2013