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DroneUA and FarmFleet at CES 2024 - Impressions and Results of the Trade Mission


The annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) unfolded in Las Vegas from January 9 to 12, spotlighting household technologies and providing a platform for participants from diverse countries to unveil their latest innovations in electronics. Among the participating companies, DroneUA, part of the international consortium, introduced its startup, FarmFleet, during CES. FarmFleet is an online service designed to streamline business processes, specifically focusing on drone spraying in agricultural fields and enhancing overall service operations in agriculture.

CES 2024 stands as the global epicenter for sharing insights and finding inspiration within the realm of modern technologies and electronics. Contrary to the "Consumer" label in CES, the exhibition themes prominently featured technologies tailored for businesses, tackling shifts in production chains, and fortifying technological ecosystems on a national scale. Notably, state booths, spotlighting top-notch startups from various nations, garnered considerable attention, with the Ukrainian booth being among them.

The Ukrainian pavilion, Unovation (Ukrainian Innovation), presented twelve startups selected through an open competition and united under the umbrella of the Ukrainian technological ecosystem. Participants of this year's CES learned about innovations made in Ukraine in areas such as MedTech, AgTech, human resources management, robotics, the Internet of Things, and logistics.

The pavilion's activities were facilitated by the Ukrainian Trade Mission, organized by the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, along with the Ukrainian Startup Fund and the Ukrainian Association of Venture and Private Capital (UVCA), with the support of USAID's "Competitive Economy in Ukraine" (USAID CEP).

This year, more than 135,000 visitors, over 10,000 global media representatives, and 4,300 direct participants attended the exhibition, including around 1,400 startups in Eureka Park.

The Ukrainian delegation not only showcased its presence at the exhibition booth but also orchestrated a distinct event on the second day of the showcase. Attended by members of the Ukrainian technology community in the USA, representatives from the EU delegation, and investment entities and companies from the USA, EU, and Japan, the event received support from USAID CEP and Necessity Ventures, aiming to bolster connections between Ukraine and the global technology community. The primary goals of this gathering included presenting the Ukrainian technological ecosystem, offering insights into the current state of affairs in Ukraine, exchanging plans and achievements, forging new partnerships with investors and technology experts in the USA, and generating business opportunities for Ukrainian startups.

This year, participants from the Ukrainian delegation and representatives of Ukrainian startups were invited to EU events and the official CES 2024 program, placing them on equal footing with other EU countries. Together with Dmytro Kushneruk, Consul General of Ukraine in San Francisco, startups engaged in discussions organized by the European Innovation Council. The deliberations encompassed initiatives such as showcasing European innovators in a shared exhibition pavilion at CES in 2025-2026 and the potential reinforcement of European innovation through the involvement of Ukrainian technological startups.

To become a commercial participant in the exhibition, any company willing to showcase its achievements globally can participate. However, to represent a country within national stands or trade missions, a stringent selection process was required, providing the opportunity to stand out among hundreds of other applicants.

Engaging with a national stand provides supplementary avenues for communication with stakeholders in diverse markets, heightened media visibility, and, significantly, the opportunity to explore potential partnerships with counterparts on other national platforms.

The stands that captured the Ukrainian delegation's keen interest comprised locations from Korea, Japan, Poland, France, and Italy. Additionally, the delegation found fascination in hubs representing the world's premier technological universities, showcasing the accomplishments of their graduates.

Meetings and communications at the United States National Pavilion became pivotal for DroneUA and FarmFleet. Both companies received invitations to participate in programs fostering small and medium-sized businesses' development, opportunities for acceleration in state agencies, and engagement with economic development organizations in specific states.

While the exhibition primarily focused on consumer technologies, some companies or pavilions showcased technologies capable of enhancing countries' defense capabilities. Ukrainian engineers have a robust reputation, and entrepreneurs creating new technologies and products under extraordinary challenges captivate the world. Representatives of Ukrainian teams in foreign delegations are seen as examples of resilience and endurance, garnering high levels of attention and respect.

A notable example was the visit to the Ukrainian National Pavilion by Gary Shapiro, the head of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), representing over 1500 technology companies and the main organizer of the Consumer Electronics Show. Amidst thousands of other booths, Shapiro and his delegation officially "opened" the Ukrainian pavilion. Representatives from DroneUA and FarmFleet discussed Ukrainian technological startups' achievements and their contributions to industry development with Shapiro. The interest from top CES officials vividly illustrates that technological diplomacy is becoming a powerful platform for Ukraine.

Throughout the exhibition, DroneUA and FarmFleet held hundreds of meetings with potential stakeholders for the development of Ukrainian businesses in North America, received over 50 media requests, and were invited to several important programs for initiating research collaborations with American universities. Despite Ukraine's cutting-edge expertise in agricultural robotics, the involvement of academic institutions is crucial for validating technology effectiveness within local contexts. The swift progress achieved wouldn't have been possible without presence at CES.

"Ukraine has hundreds or even thousands of technology companies deserving attention. Twelve startups and a few independent booths are just a drop in the ocean when we talk about the opportunities of technological diplomacy. For the next year, it would be great to see the organizers increase the size of the national Ukrainian booth by 3–4 times and also witness representatives from a greater number of hardware projects from Ukraine. We should broaden the understanding that Ukraine is a country of innovations and future technologies," shared Valerii Iakovenko, founder of DroneUA and FarmFleet, in a live interview with the Tech Podcasts Network, the primary media resource of the Consumer Technology Association, producers of CES.

The four-day journey at CES 2024 proved to be a significant success for the Ukrainian delegation, providing opportunities for potential collaborations between Ukrainian innovators and global leaders.