Navada Group's China adventure: Day Four

The Navada Group directors Matthew Scott and Jeremy Forsberg are flying the flag for North East tech firms in China. Here's their latest report

Matthew Scott and Jeremy Forsberg of Navada Group squeeze in a selfie on the red carpet at the Tech Oscars in Qingdao
Matthew Scott and Jeremy Forsberg of Navada Group squeeze in a selfie on the red carpet at the Tech Oscars in Qingdao

Day 4

Day three was intense.

Speakers, meetings, networking and business. We concluded the day with something that wasn’t far off the Oscars. Across the harbour from the conference there was light, red carpet and special guests. We walked up the red carpet like some type of celebs with cameras flashing.

Along our way up the red carpet Matt met a horse. Yes a horse. A London horse. The amazing puppeteers and actors that bring the horse to life in War Horse came along to provide a demonstration. A demonstration of British ingenuity and creativity.

The awards was a national event, broadcast on Chinese Central Television to a small audience of 100 million. They went all out on the ceremony with national personalities – dancing and singing acts from both the UK and China. The staging was epic, the acts were epic and all for this event celebrating “The Digital Dream” and how UK and Chinese innovators are chaining the world. Vince Cable attended as did Lord Marland from the UK delegation.

There was an award given to one Chinese company and one British company in each category.

First award of the night went to SBTV. Totally well deserved - Liam Tootill collected the award - SBTV have really tapped into youth culture and have a very powerful resonance. The guys from CrowdEmotion also won with their facial recognition technology. Some very super clever stuff and really cool guys.

Matthew Scott of Navada Group horses around with the War Horse at the Tech Oscars
Matthew Scott of Navada Group horses around with the War Horse at the Tech Oscars

Jack Ma was given an award for his contribution to the digital life. Most people outside of China have never heard of Jack Ma. He was an English lecturer in China before starting a tech company at the age of 31. At 35 he started Alibaba, a commerce site. A big one. $170bn-in-transactions big. That’s more than Amazon or eBay. It’s a good lesson in that whether you’re 20 years old, 30 or 60, don’t be afraid to start-up. It’s never too late or too early to be an entrepreneur.

The performances were epic and really on par with some of the big awards ceremonies in the UK. From dance acts, to kids acts. This included Adam Place and his very cool AlphaSphere. But the star performance of the night was Mary-Jess Leaverland. Again, someone many may not have heard outside of China. Well, she’s breathtaking. She is a British girl who won China’s version of The X Factor in front of 70 million people. She speaks Chinese and has a voice to rival Katherine Jenkins. She has song a song for Downton Abbey and performed at the FA Cup Final. So that was certainly a highlight of the night. You really have to hear her voice.

The show concluded with a giant ship coming on stage and Lord Marland praising the event. It was certainly a surreal event given that it was a simple tech awards that was broadcast to more people than the BAFTAs with elaborate productions, national talent and top-notch performances.

Afterwards we all retired back to the hotel where everyone from the event (well only the Brits) enjoyed themselves in the bar. We had some great chats with a few people, one of which was Nik Powell (co-founder of Virgin with Richard Branson), who thinks Navada are cool. That makes us feel good.

Mary-Jess Leaverland performs at the Tech Oscars in Qingdao
Mary-Jess Leaverland performs at the Tech Oscars in Qingdao

We also hung out with the horse from War Horse – or actually the three guys who operate the horse.

The next morning, day four was all about business. We took meetings with FutureTV, interactive television subsidiary of Chinese Central TV and one of the co-founders of Xiaomi about our app Vadoo – about partnerships and localisation of the technology after a test in the UK. These were among the several meetings that provided great possible relationships in China. We showcased Vadoo, had some great chats with the Chinese and British companies. That was a good day.

Day four’s events concluded with a great meal at a restaurant overlooking the harbour with some food we can’t honestly say what it was, but it did taste nice. There was good company and good banter. A few more drinks with everyone including Jeremy rather casually telling a producer about ways in which he can use digital to promote his movies and engage people more. . . only to find out afterwards it was film producer Jonathan Cavendish. We’re not dropping names, because there were a lot more people of that status. It shows the calibre of people at the event and what UKTI are doing for the British creative and tech industries. Hugely positive and we’ve certainly benefited from the event.

The Chinese mean business and the team from TIF-In, UKTI, CBBC and all those who took part put a lot of the right people in the room for British content producers and innovators. We think we’ve made some good contacts from the event, possible partners and we hope to forge ahead with our ideas. It certainly cemented for us that China is a place we want to do business.

The staging at the 'Tech Oscars' attended by Newcastle's Navada Group
The staging at the 'Tech Oscars' attended by Newcastle's Navada Group

We’re off to Beijing for day five to present at CIFTIS, the Chinese International Fair for Trade in Services. Our good friend Shu arranged for us to speak with some other creative businesses. We didn’t really know what to expect, so we looked it up. CIFTIS is massive. It’s an international event that has thousands of people attending. Our small breakout session is going to be attended by 120 people . So let’s hope the slides show up this time. So, small by China’s standards but a rather large group to hear us talk about creativity.

There will be more updates from our adventures in Beijing . . .and whether or not we made it to the airport.

Also read:

Day One: Newcastle-based Navada Group recount their China adventure

Day Two: From Shanghai nights to Qingdao TIF-In - Navada Group's journey continues

Day Three: Innovation, technology... and expensive beer: The further adventures of Navada Group in China


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer