6th June 2011 New York, USA

Internet Week New York 2011

Guest blog by Tony Hughes, Director, Focus Innovation and UKTI’s digital industries sector specialist.
The UK is renowned for the innovation – the invention part of the process of developing new products and services – across all industries. Digital and Creative Industries are no exceptions, whether it is Film, TV, Games, Advertising or Publishing. Of course, now that the internet is virtually ubiquitous, at least in the developed economies, the need to match the technological progress with novel, well designed applications and content is all the more important. To be successful on the Internet, companies need to engage, maintain and track users against an ever increasing competitive landscape the crosses national boundaries and reaches around the world.

For US internet companies the UK has often been a natural destination for those with international ambitions, with Europe being the target market. But obvious similarities of culture and language belie somewhat other factors that have served these companies well, ie. The combination of technical and creative know how to support their growth over a new continent.

The UK and London in particular is at the heart of Europe’s Digital and Creative sectors. The strategic partners and clients that US companies crave can all be found there, along with other global companies with routes to markets further afield. Ever since the first dot com surge the best and brightest of the internet community have tended to cluster around certain areas. In the UK and London, one of those hotspots is what is now being called Techcity.

The Techcity area stretches from the cool hub of start-up and innovative web companies in Shoreditch to the Olympic site further east. Situated next to the Financial hub in the city of London, it has developed a sophisticated eco-system to support and grow internet based companies. These include companies spanning new and emerging sectors, such as online casual games (Miniclip), social games (Mind Candy), mobile apps (Ustwo), interactive design (Berg), music (Last.fm), social media (Tweetdeck) and interactive entertainment (Somethin’ Else).

The Techcity cluster has grown organically over the last couple of decades, fed by the innovation and talent of such companies. Increasingly, overseas companies are being attracted to the region as a natural place for any internet company that is looking to expand into the UK and the wider European market.

The UK, as we all having the talent and business environment, also has one of the most buoyant consumer markets in Europe. Whether for Advertising, Publishing or Media the UK consumer is not just an early adopter market but a rapid mass adopter. As has been seen with games consoles, smartphones, digital TVs and tablets. It is an ideal testing ground for new applications and content across digitally connected devices.

UK Advertising spend online exceeded £4bn last year and has caught up with TV, as more consumers migrate on to the internet for all their needs. This is set to rise even further as broadband speeds increase, devices improve and content becomes more accessible online. Mobile ad spend is still way behind but increasing at a rapid rate, again as networks and devices improve and measurement tools become more sophisticated.

To hear more you can listen to me speak, along with existing Techcity companies and US businesses who have made the leap across the Atlantic, at the Metropolitan Pavilion on Tuesday 7th June. You can still register for Internet week here.

About Dominic Meiklejohn

I was born in Woking, outside London, in 1967 and attended Merton College, Oxford University, graduating in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. After university, I worked for HM Customs and Excise…

I was born in Woking, outside London, in 1967 and attended Merton College, Oxford University, graduating in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

After university, I worked for HM Customs and Excise before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1990. After working for the European Community Department, I learned Polish and began a posting at the British Embassy Warsaw, where I headed the British Know How Fund for Poland (1993-96). In 1997, I worked for the OSCE Mission in Albania, before heading up the India team in the South Asian Department of the FCO. In 2000, I was posted as First Secretary to the British Embassy Warsaw, with a particular focus on European Union issues in the run-up to Poland’s accession to the EU. In 2003, I returned to the UK as Deputy Head of the Environment Policy Department. From 2004-2005, I led the FCO’s Knowledge Management Programme. During this period, I led two deployments of the FCO’s Consular Rapid Deployment Team– to Sri Lanka, after the tsunami in 2004 and to Pakistan, after the earthquake in 2005. From 2006-2007, I served as Deputy Consul-General, Basra, Iraq. From June 2007 I worked with the FCO’s Change Unit.

I took up my current appointment on 22 January 2008. My wife Joanne and I are the proud parents of Olivia. Outside of the office, I cycle around Manhattan, play soccer (football) and, when parenting duties allow, enjoy the cultural riches offered by New York. I try hard to understand baseball.