COMMENTARY: CES 2018: Calling all creators

Every year, early in January, CES showcases the world’s most innovative technologies — everything from self-driving cars to smart homes are seen at the show. Many of the innovations seen on the show floor started from a sketch on a whiteboard, a JPEG file on a computer — or even a scribble on a cocktail napkin.

But it takes more than just an idea to bring these innovations to life. It takes designers and developers to turn ideas into tangible, marketable products or a usable platform. It takes figuring out what the best materials are to make your product and out how to source them. It takes marketers to create the right product packaging and target the right audience. The commercialization of innovation is a long, and sometimes complicated, road.

Virtually every exhibitor at CES — the world’s largest and most important tech event — goes through this process at some point. They know the challenges of bringing ideas through development and into the market. They’re familiar with the trials and triumphs, the missteps and mistakes, the errors and excitement required. And they know how much they rely on others to connect the dots between concept and product, between idea and reality.

Design and Source at CES 2018 will help more innovators find the right resources and make meaningful connections. The area covers 110,000 net square feet and includes more than 700 design, sourcing and packaging companies from around the world. This is where companies can help entrepreneurs turn their visions into successes and give startups new partnership opportunities.

Design and Source offers entrepreneurs a critical opportunity in today’s global market. As competition grows and the pace of innovation increases, designers must have the access to the best resources and solutions. For example, while innovation comes from all corners of the world, nations such as China excel at helping young companies on a smaller budget turn creative ideas into actual products. CES is where those introductions and relationships can begin. By creating a space for designers and dreamers to connect with the sourcers and dealmakers, we’re paving the way for the innovations of tomorrow.

And while Design and Source helps creators find people who will help them make their products, C Space at CES helps creators find people who will help them market those products. C Space is home to storytellers and content-creators – experts in content creation, branding and narrative.

Thanks to these and other resources, CES is the perfect place for the napkin-doodlers and back-of-the-envelope designers to come together and create. We want anyone with an innovative idea — the more outside-the-box the better — to come join us. We’ve assembled an amazing lineup of the best, most forward-looking companies from all across the globe to turn doodles into designs and ideas into innovations.

Each year, someone asks me what the most exciting part of CES is for me — and it’s a hard decision. I love getting a glimpse of what our future world will look like. I enjoy meeting leaders from different countries and sectors — from entertainment to automotive and politics to the environment. But the most exciting part for me is hearing stories of partnerships formed and products created.

If you look at the news, you might think that international cooperation is a relic from a different era. But every year at CES, I see proof that those partnerships and synergies thrive in today’s tech sector. Collaboration across continents and cultures can — and does — still happen. It just takes the right context and climate.

Seeing these partnerships serves as a reminder that, ultimately, tech is about us — our dreams, our ambitions and our visions of what the world can and should be. And yes, sometimes the process of making the world a better place starts on a napkin. But these ideas become reality only when we bring our skills and resources together.

CES strives to be the place where this kind of magic unfolds year after year. We hope you’ll come and see it for yourself — and bring your next idea to CES 2019.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies. Follow him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.

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