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

Newcastle-based Navada Group continue their reports from their trip to China

Jeremy Forsberg and Matthew Scott, directors of Navada Group, enjoy beers on the 58th floor of a hotel in Shanghai
Jeremy Forsberg and Matthew Scott, directors of Navada Group, enjoy beers on the 58th floor of a hotel in Shanghai

Navada Group’s director Matthew Scott and Jeremy Forsberg are in China on a special visit led by Business Secretary Vince Cable to take part in an overseas TIF-IN (Technology Innovator’s Forum). Their second report sees take time away from work to enjoy the scenery.

Day TWO - Moving on

Shanghai really is difficult to describe.

Our time was way too short to experience a city of that size and intensity.

Fortunately we were in the heart and had a chance to pop out to see the epic stature of the city towering around us. But this is business.

We sat and had a great chat with a UK expat heavily involved in motor sport and building Le Mans Asia.

He was completely on par with what we’re here to do - talk about how digital can empower traditional broadcast content. Give it more of an edge, make it relevant to people, make content come alive rather than just be a passive experience. Brilliant.

After an exhaustive meeting in the sunshine we…worked. We still have clients to serve and a product to launch. Breaking through the jet lag we managed a few hours productive working before a wee dram called out.

Let’s preface this by saying we were told that China was relatively cheap. Very cheap. No bar in the hotel, so we clambered to the nearest bar which was on the 58th floor of the building next to us. In the Ritz-Carlton. £8.50 for a pint of a Belgian beer that rhymes with ella. The lofty view came with lofty prices.

I think we can all agree that beer is not and never will be, even with inflation over the next two decades, worth £8.50 per pint. However, the view was worth it.

The view over Shanghai from Matthew Scott and Jeremy Forsberg's hotel
The view over Shanghai from Matthew Scott and Jeremy Forsberg's hotel

Early morning and we headed back to the airport (the taxi to the airport was 1/5 of the cost coming from the airport - suckers we are) to head to Qingdao where the summit is being held. Having worked for years on the Road Respect campaign to make roads safer and cut casualties on the roads, not having seat belts on roads that have a slightly, well, different view on driving rules than in the UK, we were a little nervous.

But we made it and had an uneventful flight.

Qingdao’s coastal suburban feel was a stark contrast to Shaghai’s massive urban sprawl.

Relatively small in comparison to Shanghai (around 8m in Qingdao) - it’s a really really nice city.

Tree-lined streets, clean and with the coastal air offering some refreshment.

If anyone has had Tsingtao (phonetic saying of Qingdao) beer in the UK - this is where it’s from.

It was started as an Anglo-German partnership to brew and has stuck around. In fact, Qingdao has a German pedigree having been under its control in the latter part of the 19th Century.

So there are architectural remnants of the German influence adding to its charm.

Qingdao is really excited to be hosting the Technology Innovators Forum. It was mentioned on the flight as we landed and there was a full compliment of staff to greet arriving guests. The mayor of Qingdao will be taking part in the ceremonies, including hosting a nationally broadcast awards event for innovators (including us) at the event.

The networking started from the airport – we travelled on the transport with the head of one of the largest talent agencies in the world and a few other high-level music executives.

We had a great chat, including talking about Downton Abbey.

There are some really great people at this event and it was great seeing some of them from previous TIF-INs and briefings.

We just want to really impart that Britain really has some special creative technology talent.

This talent is hugely respected in China, which is fast becoming a tech powerhouse. They are also ridiculously accommodating, kind and generous.

Jeremy Forsberg braves the taxi journey to Shanghai airport, en route to the TIF event in Qingdao
Jeremy Forsberg braves the taxi journey to Shanghai airport, en route to the TIF event in Qingdao

Tonight we’ll be attending a reception at the Intercontinental Hotel hosted by Future TV, a digital and innovative broadcaster, who we hope to catch up with on a one-to-one basis.

We are currently running through our presentation to conference. We were privileged to be one of 15 UK companies out of around 60-70 British companies and 100 Chinese companies attending. So we’re honing our two minutes of fame (well, to go along with the 20 minutes of us in a documentary). So we’re focused.

We’ve come out to showcase VADOO and look for investment and broadcast partners.

We have also come to engage with Chinese and British businesses about all that Navada has to offer, including our thinking that digital should serve life and our aim to create and distribute relevant and valuable content to users. This is the approach we take for our clients and partners. Digital is a tool – content and engagement are what matter.

Understanding and building the technology sometimes is the easy part, understanding and connecting with people emotionally, that’s a much more difficult proposition. That’s what VADOO and Navada are about. Real connections, real experiences, real life.

We want to also point out all the exceptional support we’ve had from our development partner Suga Rush Creative who have helped us give VADOO a personality.

We do this stuff for other clients all the time, but when you’re too close to something, you need your friends and they’ve been there. And the whole Navada team have pulled some proverbial rabbits out of a hat with long-days, short-weekends and true grit to help us on our adventure. So thanks all.

Please give us your well wishes as we try to make our mark on TIF-In.

We’re on at 10am tomorrow and will give an update about how tomorrow unfolds. We will also attempt to get selfies with anyone of note. . .no promises but we will try!

That’s all from a sunny and warm Qingdao.


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