Going Global at SXSW 2016

Feb 29, 2016


Building on several years of international programming, South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Interactive will once again host an array of global startups, corporations and trade delegations at this year’s gathering in Austin, Texas from March 11-15.

Below is a sampling of the most exciting official events aimed at entrepreneurs and startups going global in chronological order along with highlights of delegations bringing their entrepreneurs and officials from around the world.

We are making one contribution to unite the global community in Austin — hosting a private brunch with Intuit, Lyft, EY and CapitalOne to connect internationally-minded entrepreneurs with policymakers and corporations to explore how governments can work with startup communities to enable their global success.

Who are we missing? Contact us with additions or tweet at us using #sxswglobal.

A Roundup of Foreign Delegations at SXSW

The Belgians are bringing a large delegation of startups with Startups.be, a Belgian entrepreneurship hub.

Business France is back for the third year with the French Tech Pavilion at the trade show.  

German Haus has a variety of interesting talks, networking events and parties going on throughout the week at their house on Rainey Street. Hamburg Business claims to be offering up the best hamburgers in town at their Reeperbahn Stand — only one way to find out!

Enterprise Ireland will have a lounge during the trade show where they plan on hosting a number of lively events, such as a mixer with Irish tech companies.

Amsterdam is hoping startup businesses looking for an entree into Europe will choose the Netherlands as their port of choice. Their Launch Pad into Europe booth will offer international startups one-on-one networking meetings with Dutch corporates.

Between the Oslo Lounge, which will feature a free workspace by day and pitch competitions and talks by night, and The Swedish Affair, which will host talks and events at its trade show booth and the Nordic Light House, the Northern Europeans will be in full force.

Not to be outdone, the Japanese are back with Japan House which will host a futuristic-sounding event called Extension of Humanity (sushi will be served!) For those who read Japanese (or have a good translation app installed), check out their full listing here. Japan and South Korea will also be bringing a delegation of startups to present at an Asia-focused pitch competition.

Casa México is going all out with events nearly non-stop from March 11-14 including talks, pitch competitions, meetups and more.

UKTI is bringing a curated set of tech ambassadors to the trade show to rep the British startup industry and, this year, the city of Manchester is joining them and hosting a meet and greet to talk about how the city is innovating.

Though it’s not dedicated to one country, the Decoded Fashion House will host events featuring fashion and retail startups from around the world.

A number of other countries will also have an official exhibitor’s booth during the trade show, so make sure to stop by and visit Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy and Spain.

39 Global Events from the Official SXSW Program

Friday, March 11

1. Austin Goes Global: Best International Startups

3:30 – 4:30 pm

The Internet is making every business a global business from Day 1. International startups need to be thinking about how they will expand past their own country and eventually enter the U.S. market. Austin startups need partners in Europe, Latin America and Asia. Hear from European startups that have successfully expanded to the U.S. via Austin and Austin startups that have expanded to Europe.

2. Giving the Internet Away? ICANN Explained

3:30 – 4:30 pm

Global Internet Governance can literally be a matter of life or death. In March 2014, the U.S. announced that it will relinquish oversight over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). We’ve heard the critics scream that the U.S. is “giving away our Internet to Russia and China,” but is that really the case?

3. What You Need to Know About Doing Business in Cuba

3:30 – 4:30 pm

With recent shifts in U.S. policy, Cuba presents an opportunity to expand corporate revenues, foster entrepreneurship and stimulate the economy for the good of the people. However, the island nation presents a much more uniquely challenging marketplace for those seeking new business opportunities.

4. Startup Hubs Outside the Valley: Southeast Asia

5:00 – 6:00 pm

With entrepreneurs and startup founders outside the US facing visa limitations, and more and more Americans coming face-to-face with the challenges of being “yet another” startup in the Valley, some are looking elsewhere to start and grow their companies.

5. Turning the Tide of Corruption: Mexico & Guatemala

5:00 – 6:00 pm

Mexicans and Guatemalans are increasingly turning to technology to fight their country’s history of corruption, tainted elections and governance with technology ranging from a simple cellphone to anonymous whistleblower websites.

6. How Dublin Made Me

7:00 – 9:00 pm

A storytelling event about a global city that makes people rich, happy and chatty! The event is sponsored by the Dublin Commissioner for Startups and features renowned Dublin characters, live music and drinks.


Saturday, March 12

7. Designing Collective Action for Global Development

9:30 – 10:30 am

How do how highly collaborative tools allow online volunteers to leverage their collectives brain to be a force in global development operations?

8. Arabs Be Like: The Modern Middle East

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Today’s Middle East is an incredibly rich and diverse place, where censorship of the internet exists alongside the highest social media usage in the world. This talk will provide an in-depth view into life as a modern Arab, and how regional and global brands are succeeding or failing to connect with the Arab Digital Generation.

9. Latinas in Tech Meet Up

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and they represent a largely untapped source of technical talent. Women hold only 26% of technology positions and Latinas only 2%. An influx of Latinas into technical fields can help to inspire ingenuity, to accelerate productivity, and improve how people interact with technology.

10. The Rise of WhatsApp as a CRM Tool in Brazil

12:30 – 1:30 pm

More often than not, users turn a digital service into something other than what it was planned for. In Brazil, WhatsApp has been employed as much more than just another messaging app. Users have appropriated it to serve as everything from an ecommerce solution to a CRM service application.

11. SXSW Habla Español Meet Up

12:30 – 1:30 pm

In 2014 SXSW had more than 300 attendees from Spanish speaking countries. The idea of the meet up is to identify a framework in which our community can better develop work relationships, and to act through creativity, design and technology in order to generate change in our developing countries.

12. Build a Global, Open, Crowdsourced IoT Network

3:30 – 5:30 pm

With technology just a few months on the market it is possible to build an internet network for things without 3G or WiFi. It is called The Things Network.This workshop will tell you all about setting up this IoT network in your area and how to build use cases.

13. Give It Away to Get Rich: Open Cultural Heritage

3:30 – 4:30 pm

Open content, open access; what do these things mean? Come to a panel on how openly sharing cultural heritage content wins hearts, minds, & funding.

14. The Next Three Billion People on Social

3:30 – 4:30 pm

In a matter of years, three BILLION people will be experiencing a socially connected, mobile-friendly web for the first time, and it will drive massive change for everything from politics to pop culture. This panel is about what happens next.

15. Uploading Art into the Global Digital Space

3:30 – 4:30 pm

With audiences now scheduling their time around content they want to see or hear – from the videos they watch to the music they listen to, is there any power left in music and film in today’s user-driven and user-generated content world?

16. Covering the Chinese Technology Revolution

5:00 – 6:00 pm

Despite recent slowdowns, China is still pushing much of the world’s economic growth. In turn, much of the growth in the Chinese economy is being fuelled by a rapidly expanding tech sector. But, western journalists who cover this country’s tech sector too often get it wrong.

17. A Generational Challenge: Improving 9 Billion Lives

5:00 – 6:00 pm

By 2050, the world’s population is expected to be as high as 9 billion people. At the same time, all science points to a changing climate – which was deemed the “defining challenge of our generation” by the state department this year, and will bring with it longer droughts, stronger storms and more extreme weather. Climate challenge, combined with an exponential increase in population over the next 35 years, means solutions to deal with the strains placed on the environment need to be found – and fast.

18. Immigration Reform Meet Up

5:00 – 6:00 pm

This session will discuss the U.S. Presidential candidates’ plans for reform, potential changes to the H-1B work visa, creating pathways for international entrepreneurs and startups, and much more.

19. Israeli Unicorns: Building a Billion Dollar Biz

5:00 – 6:00 pm

The sighting of mythical “unicorns”, startups valued at over $1 billion, is becoming more commonplace. Israel, coined the “Startup Nation”, has become a breeding ground, producing 10 in the past 3 years.


Sunday, March 13

20. Weird Startups from Japanese Universities

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

The University of Tokyo has unique programs for supporting research-based startups and developed deep knowledge of how to start a startup. In this session, panelists share the best practices for acceleration of university startups and discuss the possibilities of the research-based startup rising.

21. WeDC Startup Showcase

3:00 – 5:00 pm

At the WeDC Startup Showcase, 30 startups show how they use tech and innovation to solve global challenges in Washington. Mingle with DC’s most innovative companies and learn about job and investment opportunities.


Monday, March 14

22. Beyond Banks: The Future of a Fully Banked World

9:30 – 10:30 am

This fireside chat with Anthony Watson, CEO of Uphold – a cloud based financial service enabling instant, safe and free transfer and exchange of currencies and commodities – and Jonathan Shieber, a senior editor at TechCrunch – will address the benefits of unlocking finance for all and why it’s taken until now to enact change.

23. Building the Perfect Country

9:30 – 10:30 am

The new ‘Best Countries’ study with BAV, Wharton and U.S. News asks 16,500 global citizens, business leaders and influentials to rate 60 countries on 75 dimensions, ranging from sustainability to innovation to economic influence. Initial findings show that the definition of ‘best’ is evolving: people place a premium on innovation, quality of life and global citizenship over traditional power measures of economic might, political influence and military strength.

24. The Rise of Greentech Startups in Latin America
9:30 – 10:30 am

Latin America is becoming a global arena for green innovation as the local clean technology sector is rapidly growing. Abundant resources, increasing favorable regulation, government and multilateral initiatives are nurturing collaboration in the race to commercialize sustainable technology.

25. Travel Hacking Meet Up

9:30 – 10:30 am

Frequent flyer miles are a topic that most people know *something* about (i.e. I have some miles) but very few people know how to hack them. Join other miles and points junkies to discuss your strategies for maximizing how you both earn and spend your miles and points.

26. Global Goals, Local Action: Technology, Design, and Social Impact presented by the United Nations Foundation

9:45 – 11:45 am

Join the United Nations Foundation in the SXgood Hub, an interactive gathering place, for a focused discussion on how social good is shaping our world and the impact the United Nations, entrepreneurs, creatives and citizens are having on the #GlobalGoals.

27. Pitch by Startups: The Game-Changers from Japan

10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Japanese high-tech startups pitch their business plans in the session. The startups are the finalists selected by the Technology Commercialization Program (TCP) organized by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a Japanese government agency.

28. Farselona

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

History seems far from reaching an end but the history-documentary may be closer to its demise. Web-interactive formats are breathing fresh life into the genre. The session looks into other history webdocs that stray from traditional documentary maxims and reach out to younger users.

29. Same Time Zone, Unique Challenges: Rio ‘16 Preview

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

As brands, sports companies, and organizations look ahead to the Summer Games, get a preview of how the US Olympic Committee, NBC Sports, Nike, and digital strategists are preparing to capitalize on global digital attention and learn how to make the most of your organization’s own moment.

30. DigiGov: Global Government Digital Meet Up

12:30 – 1:30 pm

Connect with a community of developers, entrepreneurs, humanitarians and civil servants building digital solutions that are changing lives in positive ways.

31. The Promise of Cuba

12:30 – 1:30 pm

Only 1 in 5 Cubans have a phone and only 26% have access to the internet. How will brands navigate this burgeoning new economy and its infrastructural challenges? What defines the Cuban consumer and how will it evolve? As J. Walter Thompson unveils a new study on the Cuban market, a panel of experts explores the Promise of Cuba.

32. Dutch Creative Mixer

2:00 – 4:00 pm

Mingle with Dutch disruptors of industry, building upon the country’s global creative alliances using art, technology, and music to drive innovation. This year marks the Netherlands’ largest ever participation at SXSW, incorporating Dutch technology companies and artists during both the music and interactive programs.

33. DIY NSA: Our Dubious Database of All the Dutch

3:30 – 4:30 pm

In 2015 our lab set out to create a database of all Dutch people by scraping and puzzling together data we could find online. Twenty big data experts spent 4 weekends hacking it together, often baffled at how easy it turned out to be, and how much we could find. In this session we share what we gathered, talk about the public’s reaction, and ask the bigger questions: how can we spark people’s interest in the way Big Data is invisibly changing their lives.

34. SXAméricas Startup Pitch Competition

3:30 – 4:30 pm

This pitch event, presented by Spain Tech, will introduce attendees and investors to the immense possibilities presented by startups throughout the wider Spanish & Portuguese speaking markets.

35. Global Innovation Challenge: Lifting 1 billion people out of poverty presented by USAID

3:45 – 4:45 pm

The U.S. Agency for International Development is calling on innovators everywhere to help end extreme poverty. Three social entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to solve global development challenges in an interactive competition. Go cast your vote live alongside the judges!

36. Never Have I Ever: Why Honesty Is The Best Business Policy
5:00 – 6:00 pm

This session will address how global companies are maintaining a level of transparency that has been unheard of in previous years. The question of: “how much is too much?” will be discussed to show how organizations manage expectations, loyalty, and motivation of employees, clients/partners, and investors.

Tuesday, March 15

37. Harness Data Science Superpower for Global Good

9:30 – 10:30 am

There is immense power in data and how now—through the power of data science–we have the ability to extract maximum value in ways never imagined only a short time ago by “showing” specific examples of how data science is being used to affect positive change on some of the world’s most complex challenges, like preventing genocide, predicting ocean health and curbing human trafficking.

38. The Real Wild West Is East: China’s Big 3 Markets

9:30 – 10:30 am

China is no longer simply a place for low cost manufacturing. Chinese VC investment and a new generation of Chinese intellectual capital, enables true hybrid US-Chinese startups. This session will explore what it takes for startups to build a team in China, and how to access the Chinese investor, manufacturing and customer markets.

39. Global Goals, Local Action: Business, Creativity, and Social Impact presented by the United Nations Foundation

9:45 – 10:45 am

Join the United Nations Foundation in the SXgood Hub, an interactive gathering place, for a focused discussion on how social good is shaping our world and the impact the United Nations, entrepreneurs, creatives and citizens are having on the #GlobalGoals.