Boston Opens Its Arms to UK Mobile Startups

4/22/10

After spending some time last week at the launch of Mass Challenge, I wanted to share a few thoughts on recent experiences with the local innovation community, for two reasons: First, I hope they might spur further collaboration between UK Trade & Investment and the Boston tech community given some recent successes. And second, given our shared objectives in this space, I hope you might find them to be of interest as well.

As you may be aware, my principal job at UK Trade & Investment is to serve as the official consultant for New England-based technology and financial services companies who are looking to establish or expand their companies’ presence in the UK. I also spend time helping UK companies learn about business opportunities in the US.

A few weeks ago I helped organize and host a delegation of young, startup UK companies to Boston focused on mobile technologies. This delegation was a key component of Mass Mobile Month. Our team spent a few months preparing, and we enlisted the help of a number of local organizations like Mobile Monday Boston, Xconomy, the Ad Club, and MITX to arrange events and meetings. In the end it was a huge success. The UK companies saw significant business potential, and at least four companies have expressed direct interest in establishing a Boston office to build off of the opportunities that they identified.

This success was due in no small part to the openness of the innovation community in Boston. From top to bottom, from entrepreneur to investor, from industry organization to media outlet, Boston opened its arms to these UK companies and wanted to show off all that the local area had to offer.

Some of the highlights included an all access tour of the new MIT Media Lab space from Steve Whittaker (British Telecom’s University Liason). We had a lunch-and-learn with Rich Miner (Managing Partner, Google Ventures). Mobile Monday Boston and Kate Imbach (VP Marketing, Skyhook Wireless) organized the most amazing UK vs US company demo night with 300 people in attendance. And Brian Halligan (CEO, Hubspot) and his team gave us a great presentation on “inbound marketing,” a phrase which he coined.

The whole team at Xconomy helped us shape the content of the visit, arrange meetings, and host a successful and fun CEO dinner focused on the mobile sector. Tim Rowe and the Cambridge Innovation Center introduced the UK companies to the best startup space in town, and Dave Weber at MIT helped the UK companies post internship opportunities on the MIT jobs board.

UKTI and the companies who were a part of the delegation look forward to following up on the contacts made and the business which was discussed. We hope to continue the dialogue and to reciprocate by doing everything we can to support Boston-based companies with interest in the UK and Europe. London and other UK cities are ready to return the favor.

As local trade organizations and initiatives like Massachusetts It’s All Here look to capture and expand on all of the strengths of the local innovation and business community, they won’t have to try hard to find champions for this city. They just might be surprised that their biggest champions are in places like London, Newcastle, and Cambridge UK. The praises of Boston’s technology prowess and creativity will be sung by the fortunate companies who saw it in action. The MassChallenge startup competition, which has made itself open to companies from around the world, is another great example of the openness and forward thinking going on in Boston. You can expect to see a great contingent of UK startups applying for the competition.

Thanks to all who helped make that program what it was. If anyone is interested in a trip to the UK to drop in on a few of the UK’s leading centers of technology innovation, just let me know.

For more information on the delegation and the companies who attended, check out this link.

David Hughson is Vice-Consul and Trade & Investment Officer at the British Consulate-General Boston. Follow @

By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.