Deep in an underground hall of the Sands Expo Center is a section of CES 2018 called Eureka Park. It’s here, a short walk (well, short for Las Vegas) from the gold casino of The Venetian hotel, where the startups of the giant tech show gather.

It’s not a particularly inspiring place, even in the bland world of exhibit halls. Forget the giant company booths across town at the Las Vegas Convention Center, most of the exhibitors here stand behind small tables. The low concrete ceiling and metal ventilation ducts magnify the noisy and crowded space.

But Eureka Park is also a fascinating place to spend the afternoon. This is also the international section of CES where groups of small companies gather under their national flags. Israel is right as you enter, with Taiwan just to the left. Along one wall, France has a huge section under a “La French Tech” banner that includes several French regions eager to talk about why they’re a great place to do business. (At a press conference yesterday, Valérie Pécresse, President of Paris Region, referenced Brexit without mentioning it by name by saying the French capital is a “pro-European city.”)

The UK is represented across the room in a long section sponsored by the trade group techUK and the Department for International Trade. Though they’re not the only British companies at CES, the companies in this section won government support to come to Las Vegas through an application process. They showed everything from phone cases to speech transcription technology. Click through the gallery above to see the full roster.

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Most had never been to CES before, but all were here to promote their companies and find distributors or customers in the US. The show is overwhelming and tiring, they said, but also tremendously exciting. Their enthusiasm reminded me that events like CES aren’t just about splashy products unveilings. They’re also about making a deal and getting noticed, whether you’re in a posh hotel suite or around a small table at Eureka Park.

PC preview: What to expect from laptops, desktops and tablets at CES this year.

CES 2018: CNET’s complete coverage of tech’s biggest show.

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