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Wrap up for CES 2023 – major trends, and is the UK lost at sea?

January 2023

CES has closed its doors for another year. Over four days the conference showcased the front line of innovation in the tech space. The scale of the exhibition is simply overwhelming, and as IP professionals it provided an eye-opening glimpse into the big growth areas for innovation in 2023.

Most of the large trends weren’t surprising. The biggest theme by far throughout the conference, as indicated by the prevalence of hashtags on social media, was artificial intelligence. The trend spanned all the major sectors, from automotive technology to home appliances – sometimes with slightly bizarre results, such as the re;memory from DeepBrain AI, a service for creating AI-based digital twins of deceased loved ones to facilitate communication from beyond the grave. That AI is so significant won’t be surprising to anyone in the IP industry, given the huge growth in patent filings in the AI space, and the increasing focus on AI in the media following the wide release of ChatGPT. Another major theme throughout the conference was sustainability. As the public consciousness turns increasingly to the consideration of our carbon footprint, large corporations are being subjected to ever more public scrutiny on their efforts to reach net zero. This was apparent throughout the conference: large corporations like SK group were taking a huge and impactful focus on sustainability in their pavilion; conference programming included spotlights on sustainability in the web3 and automotive spaces; and there was a prominence of start-ups with a focus on sustainability. These two trends of AI and sustainability were exemplified in combination by numerous smaller exhibitors, such as Polish company Bin-e exhibiting an AI powered smart waste bin for sorting recycling in public spaces, and Dutch start-up Orbisk exhibiting a smart food waste reduction system which automatically detects and categorises food which is thrown away.

One puzzling observation from CES this year was the marked lack of an obvious UK presence. In past years, the UK has supported a pavilion in Eureka Park for showcasing British start-ups. In 2022 through the Department of International Trade, UK start-ups were able to apply for support to access a UK exhibition space in the start-up hall. This year Eureka Park seemed to be completely lacking a UK presence, and research after the event seems to indicate that no such DIT support or UK pavilion was provided for 2023. Even in the main halls, UK companies seemed to be relatively scarce.

In contrast, other countries such as the Netherlands and France had significant and very apparent presence. French government agency Business France took out a large space in Eureka Park, providing a venue for over 100 French start-ups to showcase the best in French tech development. With CES being a definitive global stage for tech innovation, a lack of UK presence seems to be a lost opportunity to showcase the UK tech industry. It certainly begs the question, is the UK falling behind its contemporaries in the support being offered to British start-ups on the international stage?

This blog was prepared by HGF Patent Attorney Cassie Smith.

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