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24 February, 2014 - 20:34 By News Desk

Making the most of technology opportunities in the US Midwest

Rob McNeill, Vice Consul for Trade & Investment at the British Consulate-General in Chicago

Rob McNeill is Vice Consul for Trade & Investment at the British Consulate-General in Chicago. He is responsible for the British Government’s trade and investment interests in IT, Communications, and Creative & Media sectors in the Midwest. He gives his thoughts on how East of England technology companies can approach the US ahead of UKTI East’s event on Building Success in the US.

The ICT sector in the US is growing steadily, but not prolifically following the continued revival of the US economy.

Software spend in the US is growing at a faster rate (even per cent) than in Europe (three per cent) as many corporations are finally beginning to spend on solutions after holding back expenditure in recent years.

The economic downturn in the US saw many of the country’s leading technology companies make sizeable layoffs, leading to a new generation of startups emerging as employees look to move away from the big corporate environment and establish their own companies.

VC funding in the US has remained relatively healthy although considerable regional differences exist with companies on the West coast in particular finding it much easier to access capital than their contemporaries in other parts of the US.

The size of the US means that many UK companies view the market as a great opportunity with considerable rewards. While this can be the case it is important for UK companies to realise that the US is a mature market with a large amount of local competition from US companies.

To achieve success in the US, UK companies need to ensure that they can clearly differentiate themselves from the US competition. The size of the US market means that UK companies should look to segment the market (both by geography and industry sector) and focus on one or two of these segments instead of taking a broad-brush approach.

In the Midwest region of the US, opportunities exist for developers of software solutions tailored towards industries that are strong in the region (including advanced manufacturing, food & drink, logistics, financial services, healthcare, retail).

The considerable advertising and marketing community in Chicago also presents opportunities for companies developing digital media products. Across the wider US, opportunities exist for UK companies with unique technologies and solutions across a wide array of market segments.

Technologies addressing Cloud Computing, Big Data, and BYOD have seen successful in the US market but UK companies need to be able to differentiate themselves from US competition to achieve success. The US also represents a huge market for innovative Consumer Electronics products and telecoms and hardware technologies, again differentiation is key.

UKTI support in the US for UK ICT companies includes, but is not limited to, help identifying and reaching out to channel partners (resellers and VARs), representatives and customers, producing market overviews and competitor analysis, organising and hosting events, identifying business opportunities in the market including suitable accelerator programmes and funding opportunities in the US and organising missions to major industry events in the US such as SXSW, CES and CTIA.

• Rob McNeill will be leading a seminar on technology opportunities in the US at UKTI East’s ‘Building Success in the US’ event at the Trinity Centre at the Science Park in Cambridge on March 6. To find out more visit:

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