Over the past several years, SXSW Interactive has built up an increasingly-international flavor. Global startups and foreign governments flock to Austin's annual technology extravaganza looking to enter the U.S. market or in the hopes of attracting American entrepreneurs -- or foreign entrepreneurs residing in the States -- to expand (or relocate) abroad.
After seeing President Obama's opening SXSW keynote, here are 5 ways to connect with globally-minded startup communities, corporations and government officials beginning March 11 in Austin ---
1. Global SXSW interactive events
Take advantage of the wealth of programming in and around the Austin convention center. There's a forum with globally-minded locals -- Austin Goes Global with the Capital Factory, advice for doing business in Cuba, a focus on Startup Hubs in Southeast Asia, the Modern Middle East, tons of programming on Europe, a Japanese and South Korean startup pitch competition. and a convergence track under the SXAmericas banner, meant to bring North and South American communities together.
(The Global Innovation Forum has compiled a list of 39 official SXSW Interactive events for 2016 with an international nexus.)
2. Delegation houses
A number of foreign governments or startup communities will transform houses along Rainey Street and elsewhere into temporary outposts. Europe is well-represented, as Enterprise Ireland is hosting a lounge and mixers with Irish tech companies, German Haus will host a variety of talks, networking events and parties, and UKTI is hosting several receptions and an afternoon tea for women in high tech. The Oslo Lounge will feature a free workspace by day and pitch competitions and talks by night, while The Swedish Affair, put on by the Stockholm Business Region Development, will host talks and events at the Waller Creek Boathouse (aka Nordic Light House, at least for the week of SXSW). The Japan House will host a futuristic-sounding event called Extension of Humanity (sushi will be served), and Casa México is hosting dozens of events from March 11-14 including talks, pitch competitions and meetups.
In the United States, cities are hosting houses as well, including Washington DC's WeDC installation, which will feature programming of interest to global innovators over 3 days on issues from effective protection of intellectual property to the Politics of Art in the Global Digital Space.
3. The SXSW Trade Show
The SXSW Trade Show -- also part of the official program but open to film, music and other badge types -- is a nice one-stop-shop for getting to know many of the foreign delegations who descend on Austin.
A number of countries have booked an exhibitor's booth during the trade show, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, La French Tech, Germany, Italy, Spain and Singapore. Amsterdam is manning a Launch Pad into Europe booth will offer international startups one-on-one networking meetings with Dutch corporates. UKTI is bringing a curated set of tech ambassadors to the trade show to rep the British startup industry.
4. The SxGood Hub
The SxGood Hub is also part of the official SXSW programming (and, like the trade show, is open to all badges), "designed to unite attendees of SXSW Music, Film, and Interactive who are advancing social innovation." From mapping climate action to USAID's Global Innovation Challenge, the hub will focus on a series of events with global impact.
5. Corporate and nonprofit side events
Then there are the assorted outsider events, many of which will have an international flavor. There's a Tech Cocktail-produced reception by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA hsots the also-increasingly-international Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas each winter), a series of events featuring fashion and retail startups from around the world hosted by Decoded Fashion -- including a talk on next generation global payments from with Adyen, and countless others.