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UK tech firms seek PH tie-ups
« on: March 08, 2018, 01:55:44 PM »
UK tech firms seek PH tie-ups
By Ma. Cristina Arayata  March 5, 2018, 8:45 pm

MANILA -- Various technology firms and smart cities companies from the United Kingdom (UK) have offered partnerships with local businesses here.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Andrew Cockburn, head of Trade, Technology and Smart Cities under UK's Department of International Trade (DIT), said about 10 companies came over recently to explore partnerships.

These companies offer wide-ranging capabilities, including smart city logistics platform, intelligent transport systems, mobility service, automated fare collection, smart grids solutions, energy efficiency technologies, renewable energy storage. and digital security solutions for critical infrastructure.

"The DIT aims to raise the profile of UK technologies and smart-cities companies because internationally, we're not as well-known as we should be," Cockburn said. "When you say technology, people think of Japan and the US. But what's interesting about the UK, look at Hitachi, Facebook, Amazon, Google. They are setting up centers of excellence on R&D (research and development) in the UK. They have partnered with UK academic institutions."

There are about 170 universities in the UK, and these universities produce world-leading research, according to Cockburn. He also cited that the UK has 200 technology and smart cities companies there.

"The role of my team and the UK government is to help promote their image and help them find partner opportunities internationally," he shared, and added these companies were very interested in seeking opportunities here.

Cockburn noted that when talking about Asia, for instance, people would probably go to Singapore, China, Japan for business. "Philippines is probably not a company's first choice from the west. In my opinion, it could possibly be the best choice. You've got legacy, you've got great history, English language," he explained.

He added, "Almost every Filipino that I've met here has been to the UK or has connections with the UK, and yet business-wise, we're not doing the best that we could in terms of technology and smart cities."

Cockburn said it was his first time to come to the Philippines, and that he was told there are about 2,000 Japanese companies and also a lot of American companies here. He was told to bring in UK companies.

"We came here to look at the Philippine industry, what it is looking to do, and the solutions that UK companies could work with them to help grow the Philippine economy better," he emphasized.

"We try to look at what the Philippine government and Filipino companies want to achieve, and match these with the companies that we're bringing in. We're learning, and it's nice to learn from our partners in the Philippines," Cockburn added.

These companies, Cockburn said, are small, agile, and innovative. "They usually set up business internationally, which means employing locals. Over the last two years, I've taken 70 companies to Malaysia, and the majority of them have set up business there. The UK has a great legacy in terms of knowledge transfer, technology transfer," he said.

While he said the DIT has done similar activities in the past, he noted that smart energies have a big strength in this year's mission.

According to him, some of the UK companies came here to offer partnerships in terms of renewable energy and smart management.

"You've got more than 7,000 islands. Taking off-grid solutions to a lot of places is very hard to service," he said.

Meanwhile, Cockburn mentioned that the DIT and the UK technology firms would also love to partner with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

"We would love to partner with the DOST. We didn't come to tell them what we could offer. We would try to work on what they would want to achieve. We would look at our strengths and capabilities to match those needs, then we would develop these through partnership," he said.

Cockburn said the DIT brings UK technology firms globally, and the partnership that they create works for both parties.

"We also help companies to go there and set up their businesses in the UK, grow, learn," he said. (PNA)