As SXSW creeps upon us, I’ve spent the last few months considering how exceptionally Austin has communicated to the world that this is the place to live and work. It’s not just hard to disagree, it’s downright impossible: with exceptionally low unemployment rates, incredible business incentives provided by the city and state, a creative and experienced workforce that will not just architect, but design, the future, and an evolving economy to capitalize on and serve the innovations of the next generation. Indeed, where once the titans of hardware technology (IBM, Applied Materials, Dell, National Instruments, Advanced Micro Devices, Samsung, 3M, Freescale, Tokyo Electron) served to affirm why you should work with Austin, the new titans, Google, Facebook, Visa, GM, and Apple name just a few that are flocking to Austin to capitalize on the bleeding edge work being done, and talent emerging from, clean tech, health care, gaming, consumer mobile, eCommerce, advanced manufacturing, and big data.
It’s easy to see why companies are moving here. Aside from those economic benefits, while most of the world wrestles with 8 months of cold weather, Austin has only a few months, in the summer, where the weather is overwhelming, so we all spend it in the water.
But why should the world be working with Austin?
Having been here for merely a couple years, it’s clear that Austin is attractive to businesses from not only all over the U.S. but internationally. Events like the Austin Grand Prix and the South by Southwest Conference and Festival bring in guests from all over the world. Central Texas currently has nine different Foreign Trade Zones as well as International Trade Services.
As cities around the world become increasingly expensive and prohibitive to innovation, only places like Austin, where we’re poised to accommodate and encourage growth, economically situated to encourage taking the risk it takes to create industry, fully investigating and embracing how to scale globally, efficiently, and attracting the best talent from around the world to consider Austin home.
Fostering Collaboration Among Global Innovation Hubs
In April, Austin will host innovators from around the world for the 2013 North American Division Workshop looking into the the role of science cities, areas of innovation, and technology and research Parks with the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASPs).
Leading up to the global conference in October in Brazil, the April event will bring together the resources of the City of Austin, the Texas Entrepreneur Network, the State of Texas, and IASP’s first Science City to explore opportunities for international collaboration between global innovation hubs, observe a funding forum with pitches to Austin investors, and, of course, listen to local music!
Companies located in IASP member parks have the opportunity at the event to participate in a Funding Forum to pitch their company to Austin investors. Five companies will each have the opportunity to give a ten minute pitch for funding followed by investor Q&A from the audience including angel and venture capitalists, private equity, and family offices. Companies seeking $250,000 to $2,000,000 in funding are invited to submit a one-page Executive Summary – there is no submission fee, but applicants chosen to present will pay $125. In addition to the five presenters, two applicants will be chosen as alternates. This forum will be organized by the Texas Entrepreneur Network. At their past funding forums, on average ½ of the companies presenting receive follow-up meetings and 1/5 receive funding. Email [email protected] for an application now (they’re due March 6th!). To register for the IASP workshop, click here.
Validating Austin as the International Hub
So why work WITH Austin, rather than simply in Austin? I started pointing out that SXSW is upon us, and so I will close. The world is looking to Austin; and the work that Mirko Whitfield, SXSW’s lead in Europe & Int’l Business Development, and the City of Austin are doing is exceptional this year…
March 8th, Enterprise Ireland and Innovation Ireland are hosting Mr. Richard Bruton, T.D., Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, to introduce Ireland as a trading partner with Austin’s entrepreneurs. Through the 12th, the Borough of Hackney in London, will be hosting a Hackney House at 119 West 6th, with events including an opening party with Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, a forum on opportunities for Austin companies at London’s Digital Shoreditch festival, and showcases of London companies. Sounds a bit like an embassy of entrepreneurship and as Austin is the epicenter of collaborative work spaces, we shouldn’t be the least bit surprised when the Hackney House is an incredible success for both communities. The experiences at the Hackney House are free and open for registration.
More than that, the night of the 8th caps an all day seminar at Austin’s City Hall, for the over 12 foreign delegations attending SXSW to gain insight on how to effectively do business in the US. Speakers throughout the seminar include Gemma Craven, Executive Vice President and NY lead at Social@Ogilvy, Aziz Gilani, partner DFJ Mercury, Harper Reed, Founder of Harper Rules LLC and ex-CTO Obama Campaign, Robert Scoble, Start-Up Liason Officer at Rackspace, Saidah Nash Carter, is Vice Presdent of Strategy and Business Innovation at Thomson Reuters, and Jason Seats, Managing Director of TechStars Cloud.
The “Doing Business in the USA” reception from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. is Cosponsored by ChinWag, the focal point for global digital media practitioners. Austin entrepreneurs and over 150 international companies are invited by the city to RSVP to the reception to speak with international companies about our experiences in Austin and why the world should work with Austin.
Perhaps most exciting about the SXSW conference is that world is in Austin for a few days. Keeping up with everything going on, not just internationally but throughout the distinct conference events, parties, and opportunities is a challenge. The kind of challenge to which Austin rises; Austin based innovators are on the bleeding edge of the technology that will make your experience in Austin exceptional. Whether the work of CanWe Studios and their CanWeNetwork app, Next One’s On Me and their app that will make it easy to treat a new contact to their next drink in town, the exciting possibility of FoTacts which will change the way you meet, for the first time, or the quintessentially Austin D.W.M.C. (which you’ll need with all the cars in town), their success, their ideas, are evidence of what’s possible with Austin, and why SXSW, this year, seems to me to be kicking off the fact that global innovation is about to explode through Austin.