Speech: Minister Fairhead: speech to launch the Export Strategy

first_imgRead the government’s Export Strategy. Our country is already an exporting power.We’re pretty good at it! Last year our exports grew over 10% that makes us more than 30% of the economy comes from exports but as the Secretary of State said that still leaves us in the middle of the G7 pack – and just to put it in context if you look at Germany, less than 20 years ago, Germany had exports as a percentage of GDP at 30%. Today it is 47%.Our ambition is to move the UK nearer the top – and the first step is to get to 35% of GDP.As the Secretary of State has said, rather than being an exporting power, we aim to be an exporting superpower!And that’s why we’re launching this Export Strategy today.Some government strategies are about solving problems – social or economic. Some are about mitigating risks.This I am pleased to say, is about building on our strengths and rising to the challenge, and rising together.We do have some awesome businesses in this country. The world has shown that it is ready for our goods and services.We now have an Industrial Strategy, and I’ve seen it on the ground – these sector deals are really resonating, not just in the UK but they are resonating in overseas markets where the focus on particular sectors is really starting to be noticed.So we see it as my department being the international wing of that industrial strategy.We have so much potential.But I think what it needs is businesses and government across government, private sector providers, all working together, adopting a collaborative approach, that the Secretary of State mentioned, and I think if we do, the change can be utterly transformational.For, someone like me that has come from the private sector I am really clear that it is businesses that export and the people that we should be listening to are businesses so this is very much a business led strategy, so it is companies like yours or businesses you represent.So this strategy has to be business led.We’ve undertaken massive – and continuing – engagement with businesses – exporters, business organisations and associations who represent them as well as private-sector providers of export support; we have had over 25 roundtables all across the country.I myself have been in Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and all across the UK and I would like to say thank you to all of your for taking part – the CBI, IoD, British Chambers, FSB and many of you who helped make sure this is what business wants because from my perspective if we can serve business needs that will help us export more.This strategy is developed with you and for you.We started to try and understand what the barriers are that businesses face and that’s what we’ve based out focus on.And companies have also been clear that government can play a very fundamental role particularly by focussing on ‘doing things that only government can do’. And by being clearer and prioritising more.So this strategy doesn’t duplicate private sector export advice – or its export financing. We are targeting where the government can add genuine value.And what have businesses told us? What you’ll see in the strategy is that we’ve focussed on 4 main areas :Firstly – encouraging more companies to export, for the reasons outlined by the Secretary of State and for more countries to look at UK goods and servicesSecondly – to help inform our companiesThirdly – using the connecting and convening power of government in a significantly enhanced way.And finally, providing finance in areas of market failure.Let me take each in turn.Firstly: encouraging firms to export. Many new exporters told us that, once they did start exporting, it was less difficult than they’d thought – they wished they’d started sooner!But businesses were clear that they are much more likely to listen to – and benefit from their peers, government telling business this is how you export doesn’t work, talking to a peer about a similar product in a similar market really has impact.So we will build up a national network of UK Export Champions – we are starting with the good practice of the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse who are at 500 Export Champions now and we will expand that right across the UK.We’ll also develop an online community so that we can have interaction in a much more time efficient way because that’s what businesses told us “we’re time poor, we want to export but we don’t have time so help us have a time efficient way to go forward”.We’ll also deploy our resources to encourage overseas buyers to buy British products and services.This activity will encompass large expos – such as Dubai 2020, or the Great British Festival of Innovation and Creativity held in Hong Kong in March this year; we will continue to use the PM’s Trade Envoys, who are incredibly valuable to us in opening markets – I see that Lord Poppat is here – there may be others too – the Trade Envoys network is powerful. And also focussed missions.I went on a trade mission on augmented reality and gaming capability to Mumbai and Bangalore with a small group of British companies – the aim was for them to identify some suppliers – one company who accompanied, called Spearhead, an augmented reality company, not just found suppliers but also was spotted by a large energy company who said they would like to use their technology.These trade missions really work so we will do more.Secondly: informing. Many businesses, especially small ones, said they didn’t have the expertise to export: lacking knowledge about local business cultures, regulations, or consumer needs.So they need help in understanding where the opportunities are.We believe that, alongside support from our trade advisers, we can use our website great.gov.uk – one-stop-shop for digital advice for companies entering overseas markets.Central to that plan is our desire to improve over the next 2 months – the number of opportunities listed on our site, currently 1750 – we aim to increase that to the tens of thousands. So that firms can understand, do they have the capacity and the capability.In the future we will aim to apply machine learning and big data for companies who opt in – so that we can prompt them if we identify opportunities that might be of interest to them.We also need to harness the extensive support that is available from other sources.So we are working with private sector providers to help us signpost more because that’s another message from business – “all of this support is available but who do I go to?” so what we are trying to do is find ways to signpost and there will be no wrong door.Thirdly: connecting. I was struck by how much firms said to us during our consultation that that ability to connect – just by holding an event at one of our posts overseas – how it brings in those local potential customers and that is where we can step in.Government is already acting to help support consortia of UK firms to bid on foreign contracts.Many other nations have a concept of Team-whatever their country is, we need to have ‘Team-UK’ approach.At the forefront of this we have Infrastructure Exports: UK, where we have pulled together a group of businesses to identify specific opportunities and we’re going out with an offer to overseas markets.In similar fashion, the Department for International Trade, including UK Export Finance, is working with other government departments to organise supplier fairs, where foreign buyers can bring specific opportunities directly to UK businesses, an initiative which has already seen astonishing success.As well as convening businesses, we also plan to make even more effective use of those attributes only government has. For example, we have a huge overseas network – 108 countries worldwide – and we are able to more efficiently understand where opportunities are and connect back better with our team to make sure companies are aware of them.We recognise that in many countries, UK-government backing is seen as a seal of quality – so we will be focussing more on our government-to-government offer. And our trade policy arm will be actively working to improve market access and regulation. It’s a real benefit of having DIT – with trade policy, investment and exports all in one department so we can work together.To assist this activity, we will be setting up a new digital service to help companies report trade barriers, to help us target ourwork more effectively.All of this work will be supported by the new network we have of our 9 new Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioners, that is government signalling that business really matters overseas and to elevate to Trade Commissioners who have real heft in overseas markets to help with those plans.Fourth and finally: finance. Many companies say that finance is something that stops them competing on a level playing field to win contracts, or to fulfil those contracts, and make sure they get paid at the end.At the moment, many firms say they aren’t getting that – or that by the time they get it, the opportunity has already gone.So we have put finance at the heart of the Export Strategy.The mission of UK Export Finance – the world’s oldest export credit agency– is for no viable project will fail due to lack of finance or insurance.We have a £50 billion capacity, we provide multiple export finance products, including working capital and political risk insurance. We also offer the ability to ‘buy British pay local’ now in over 60 currencies.This is a service, for those who might not know about it, which has been radically improved over the last few years.It is now ranked as one of the top Export Agencies in the world. For those companies who use it, they say it is a ‘game-changer’. So where, you might, sensibly, ask is the problem?And the problem is this, it is one of the best kept secrets – big companies know about it, SMEs do not. So part of our plan is to build awareness of UKEF and we have also put more UKEF advisers into overseas markets so we have that connection there too.We will also continue to develop a suite of products to make sure that they stay at the top of the rankings. This is a strategy which is not just in England, it is right across the UK and the Department for International Trade operates right across the UK.Another piece of good news: we’re not beginning from a standing start. Businesses already say time and again through our consultation, “don’t rip our everything that you’re doing and throw it out because this is a new strategy – keep what’s working and build on it” so that’s what we’ve done.And let me say one last thing before I conclude.Clearly our role is to take the lead on supporting businesses to export. If we are to achieve our aim we have to work right across government because all almost every government department has businesses inside their portfolio that have the capacity to export.Through our overseas networks, we naturally work very closely with the Foreign Office and DFID.And as the international part of the Industrial Strategy I’m very pleased we are increasingly working with BEIS.In fact one of the real impacts of industrial society is that opportunity and exports are really starting to hit the national conversation and my hope is that that conversation, like the conversation now on productivity, becomes a national one – a national conversation about exporting.But it requires joining up right across government and that’s why I’m particularly pleased, as the Secretary of State said that this has been developed in collaboration with our partners partners at the Department for Transport, Her Majesty’s Treasury, and the Department for Health, among many others.And that’s why I’m confident this has a really great chance of beinga success – it can be a catalyst that transforms lives, businesses,their workers and creates businesses that can be handed down through generations,Now, I’m a businessperson, strategy is one thing but it doesn’t get implemented if it becomes a report that gatehers dust.It’s the implementation that matters most – this strategy was designed with that in mind.I’m delighted that we’ve been able to appoint some great people in our department and we have brought in 2 Director Generals – John Mahon who will be answering your questions today alongside Liam and myself – he was a senior business executive at Barclays – he will be leading this strategy and operationalising it.As we said at the beginning, this is just the first step. We aim to implement this successfully and then build on Export Strategy 2.0 to turbocharge that performance.So my request for you today is simple let’s start that national conversation today on exports – we do have an exciting national challenge.Let’s rise to it – government, and business together and become that exporting superpower so that we can hand over truly great heritage to generations to come.Thank youlast_img read more

Nanoparticles shine with customizable color

first_imgEngineers at Harvard have demonstrated a new kind of tunable color filter that uses optical nanoantennas to obtain precise control of color output.Whereas a conventional color filter can only produce one fixed color, a single active filter under exposure to different types of light can produce a range of colors.The advance has the potential for application in televisions and biological imaging, and could even be used to create invisible security tags to mark currency. The findings appear in the February issue of Nano Letters.Kenneth Crozier, associate professor of electrical engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and colleagues have engineered the size and shape of metal nanoparticles so that the color they appear strongly depends on the polarization of the light illuminating them. The nanoparticles can be regarded as antennas similar to those used for wireless communications but much smaller in scale and operating at visible frequencies.The color output of a new type of optical filter depends on the polarization of the incoming light.“With the advances in nanotechnology, we can precisely control the shape of the optical nanoantennas, so we can tune them to react differently with light of different colors and different polarizations,” said co-author Tal Ellenbogen, a postdoctoral fellow at SEAS. “By doing so, we designed a new sort of controllable color filter.”Conventional RGB filters used to create color in today’s televisions and monitors have one fixed output color (red, green, or blue) and create a broader palette of hues through blending. By contrast, each pixel of the nanoantenna-based filters is dynamic and able to produce different colors when the polarization is changed.These filters, dubbed “chromatic plasmonic polarizers” by the researchers, can create a pixel with a uniform color or complex patterns with colors varying as a function of position.To demonstrate the technology’s capabilities, the researchers used nanoparticles to spell out the acronym LSP (short for “localized surface plasmon”). With unpolarized light or with light that is polarized at 45 degrees, the letters are invisible (gray on gray). In polarized light at 90 degrees, the letters appear vibrant yellow with a blue background, and at 0 degrees the color scheme is reversed. By rotating the polarization of the incident light, the letters then change color, moving from yellow to blue. “What is somewhat unusual about this work is that we have a color filter with a response that depends on polarization,” says Crozier.The researchers envision several kinds of applications: using the color functionality to present [different colors in a display or camera, showing polarization effects in tissue for biomedical imaging, and integrating the technology into labels or paper to generate security tags that could mark money and other objects.Seeing the color effects from current fabricated samples requires magnification, but large-scale nanoprinting techniques could be used to generate samples big enough to be seen with the naked eye. To build a television, for example, using the nanoantennas would require a great deal of advanced engineering, but Crozier and Ellenbogen say it is absolutely feasible. Crozier credits the latest advance, in part, to taking a biological approach to the problem of color generation. Ellenbogen, who is, ironically, colorblind, had previously studied computational models of the visual cortex and brought his knowledge of them to the lab.“The chromatic plasmonic polarizers combine two structures, each with a different spectral response, and the human eye can see the mixing of these two spectral responses as color,” said Crozier.“We would normally ask what is the response in terms of the spectrum, rather than what is the response in terms of the eye,” added Ellenbogen.The researchers have filed a provisional patent for their work.Kwanyong Seo, a postdoctoral fellow in electrical engineering at SEAS, also contributed to the research. The work was supported by the Center for Excitonics at MIT, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science; and Zena Technologies. In addition, the research team acknowledges the Center for Nanoscale Systems at Harvard for fabrication work.last_img read more

Florida Man Sues Airline Over Son’s Alleged Sexual Assault

first_imgA Florida man is suing an airline, alleging that one of its employees sexually assaulted his six-year-old son while the unaccompanied minor was traveling from Brazil back to the state.The father filed the negligence lawsuit Monday against LATAM Airlines in federal court in Orlando. The complaint states that the airline did not train and supervise its employees.In addition, the lawsuit claims that the flight attendant misplaced the boy’s travel documents, making him unable to board a Florida-bound flight.The boy was then put up at a hotel, where the alleged assault took place.LATAM Airlines released a statement that it is taking the situation seriously.last_img

Plug & Play: Esports streaming helps unite gamers

first_imgIt’s like getting together with your buddies to watch a football game. You all get in a room, chat about what you’re watching and crack jokes with each other. It’s the same concept for streamers, but instead of 10 friends in a living room, it’s 10,000 “friends” on a streaming platform. The bottom line is that the esports community should not be afraid to show its pride for video games. Streamers have laid the framework to help integrate the community into the mainstream.  Streamers have developed a community with their audiences. Thousands of viewers with similar interests are simultaneously watching and chatting with each other. These massive fan bases have chat rooms dedicated solely to discussing video games and streamers. At any given moment, I can log on to Twitch or YouTube Gaming and find someone playing the games I love. There will be hundreds or thousands of other people watching the same game at the same time. It’s reassuring to know that other people share your interests and that at any point of the day you can “hang out” — albeit virtually — with those people. It’s nice to know that you aren’t a weird outcast whose passion is always stigmatized. Video games are often seen as a niche community. I’ve experienced this firsthand. People are afraid to express their interest in gaming, fearing judgment because of the stigma games can carry.  But why would anyone want to watch random people play video games, especially if they’re not very good to begin with? The answer is the sense of community it provides.  So far, this column has mainly focused on professional esports and how pursuing esports as a career should not be stigmatized — but pro players are just one part of the sport. With just about every aspect of media moving toward the digital space, it’s incredibly important to understand the influence that individual “normal people” can have on an entire community. Some of the most famous streamers have built their followings on streaming platforms because of their professional careers, but the vast majority of streamers are just normal people — many of whom aren’t even that good at the game they play.   Streamers alleviate the fear of this prejudice by providing a safe space for people who love video games. Most streamers are normal people. They are relatable to viewers who are searching for a place to fit in. The reality is that esports, as a part of society, are becoming more similar to traditional sports. Some of the most passionate football fans have never played a day of organized football, but that doesn’t stop them from watching every Sunday, playing fantasy football and discussing the game with their friends. The other prominent aspect of gaming is the streamers: people who commentate while they play video games live for thousands to watch. These people dedicate much of their lives to streaming themselves playing video games for several hours a day. The top streamers receive endorsements and donations as well as money from viewers who pay for premium content. My first column at the Daily Trojan was about esports. I still remember the look on our former editor-in-chief’s face when I, the sports editor she just hired, told her that video games count as sports. For a while after that, I suppressed my passion for video games, watching streamers in privacy in the Daily Trojan sports office. (For the record, she later let me cover a big esports event.) Sam Arslanian is a junior writing about esports. He is also a former sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Plug & Play,” runs every other Wednesday.last_img read more