South by Southwest expands for the first time beyond Texas to Sydney.
Sydney and Destination NSW (the New South Wales state government tourism authority) pulled off a coup earlier this month with the successful expansion of the world-renowned South by Southwest (SxSW) festival to Sydney, Australia.
SxSW has been operating solely in Austin, Texas since 1987, and showcases the world’s most innovative tech and creative players from across the globe. The 10-day festival routinely attracts an attendance of over 200,000 people and is a must-visit for anybody at the forefront of the creative or emerging tech sectors. The 2022 event was held last March and was a return to form the event after a two-year hiatus due to COVID.
It is arguable that Austin itself has become a hub for tech startups due to the impact of SxSW. Not only has the event focused attention on Austin as a real alternative to Silicon Valley, but Austin’s quirky, non-conformist approach – “Keep Austin Weird” is the mantra that has been adopted in the city – certainly appeals to the tech community that it has grown there. In addition, it is estimated that SxSW brought US$325 million of economic value to Austin in 2016 alone.
So the NSW State Government’s successful wooing of SxSW to set up its first sister event outside of Austin in Sydney in 2023 represents a major achievement for Australia. It will focus attention on Australia and Sydney as southern hemisphere hubs for tech innovation and development and will assist in increasing the engagement between the tech ecosystems of both Australia and the USA. It is already being promoted as a “must-attend event for creators and professionals seeking to shape and discover future trends, emerging technology, and access unrivalled networking opportunities.”
As Australia continues to position itself as a unique location in Asia for tech companies looking to expand to markets with an Anglo-centric consumer base, we are seeing many companies from across Asia and Europe utilise Australia as a test market for the bigger and more challenging US market. Similarly, US tech companies also often position their first investment outside the USA in the lucrative Australian market, where they can generate strong revenue and create a platform for growth north into the less well-known Asian markets. SxSW will shine a strong spotlight on the opportunities available in Australia for companies from both sides of the Pacific, and Sydney is sure to reap the economic benefits of this major event for many years to come.