As part of a new initiative called the Web Mission, 20 UK tech start-ups have been selected to fly out to San Francisco, where’ll they spend a week hanging out drinking skinny soya lattes with Web 2.0 luminaries like Bebo’s Michael Birch and representatives from the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon – not to mention investors who are keen to spend their money on backing the internet’s next big thing.
The idea of the trip, which was arranged by entrepreneur Oli Barrett and funded by sponsors UK Trade Invest, BT, HSBC and law firm Heller Ehrmann, is to show the Americans just how splendid our internet businesses really are – while giving these companies a chance to learn from their US counterparts and hopefully make some contacts that will help them develop faster in the future.
The businesses – which were selected from over 100 applicants – have all been chosen because they have the potential to expand into the US. And there are some impressive companies in there: the list includes WAYN (Where Are You Now?), a social networking site for globe-trotting types; edocr, which makes business documents interactive; Coull, an interactive video platform; and our particular favourite Silobreaker, an online search that aggregates news and provides all kinds of graphical content for additional context (although it did give us a video of The Charlie Goodwin Quartet when we were researching Sir Fred Goodwin this morning).
To be honest, we wouldn’t claim to understand exactly what all of these jazzy web 2.0 businesses do – but we’re happy to go with the opinion of former Dragons' Den stalwart Doug Richard, a member of the judging panel, who reckons that ‘some of these companies are as good as anything coming out of the Valley’. Let’s just hope that they can follow in the footsteps of Silicon Valley graduates like Google and eBay and turn themselves into global behemoths...