By Max Clarke

Cutting-edge technology took centre stage today at BETT, the world’s largest educational technology show, as it began its four day run at Olympia in London in collaboration with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).

First launched in 1985 as the “Hi Technology and Computers in Education Exhibition”, the show was renamed to the ‘British Education and Training Technology’ show. The words have since been dropped and the show is now simply known as BETT.

Held annually at Kensington's Olympia, the show- now in its 25th year- is the largest of its kind in the world, attracting around 30,000 visitors of which some 7,000 are international.

UK firms triumphed as the first of an expected 30,000 national and international visitors arrived at the event to learn more about the country’s high quality classroom and teacher resources.

Nearly 700 companies exhibited their products, ranging from touch-screens, computer games and interactive whiteboards to robots, digital and online educational resources, science equipment and educational publications.

Acting UKTI Chief Executive Susan Haird said:

“UKTI has been involved with BETT for years, and with good reason. It brings together the very best of what the UK has to offer in the education sector and highlights the country’s strong creative capabilities.

“Our trade advisers work closely with companies in all regions to give them the confidence they need to succeed abroad, exporting UK knowledge and expertise throughout the world. The UK is well known for its excellence in education, and trade fairs like this prove that belief is well founded.”

UKTI also arranged a week long programme around BETT for a group of 31 overseas visitors to experience the technology on offer, and visit local schools to see it in action.

The aim of the programme is to help international buyers and key decision-makers meet UK suppliers and forge strong alliances. 30 overseas-based UKTI Trade Advisers were also at the fair itself to support and encourage UK firms as they either begin or continue to export overseas, and as they seek to expand their presence both in the UK and abroad.

UKTI International Trade Adviser Elaine Cameron said:

“The UK has so much to offer in the education sector, especially when it comes to emerging technologies, and UKTI can help take this to the world. I hope that all the international visitors here today and throughout the week will come to see the UK as the first place to go for the most innovative school technology. These are developments that really can make a difference to any child’s education, whatever their needs.”

Dominic Savage, Director General of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) added:

“With an enhanced international dimension to BETT this year, overseas visitors will debate and experience efficiency and sustainability of technology solutions. We are delighted to be working again with UKTI to initiate introductions between UK suppliers and overseas buyers.”