Now in its fourth year, the UKTI Mission to SXSW is, according to UKTI London, a great opportunity for showcasing UK innovation and expertise in the digital sector to the US market. "It gives the participants an opportunity to enter the US market and meet with potential partners and customers," said a UKTI statement sent to .net. "The programme for 34 of the most innovative, cutting edge UK digital companies going this year will offer many opportunities for potential business outcomes, partnerships, showcasing of the UK Group on the largest Expo stand, and much learning, including a masterclass in 'How to do Business in the US', publicity before and during the mission and a chance to network with leading US digital media companies and investors at the Great British Breakfast."
We asked a number of companies who'd been selected how the UKTI Mission would benefit them. Julian Ranger, DAD Technology Ltd, told us getting noticed at SXSW has become increasingly difficult, and so the UK stand and mission provides much needed visibility to UK businesses: "Having run an international business before, which included offices in the US and selling to US giant Lockheed Martin, I know that the UK can build world-beating companies. But in the internet world, the noise is so often dominated by the US, and so the UK mission will help ensure that some of the attention comes our way."
Breaking into the US
Others were similarly enthused. Tom Jordan, Managing Director of Acknowledgement Ltd, remarked that as a business looking to expand into the US, "the support, knowledge and contacts the mission equips us with will prove invaluable", and David Eccles, Company Director of Numiko said his company was proud to have been chosen: "It's one of the best interactive conferences on the planet, and the UKTI mission also gives us a great networking opportunity to start working with US-based clients." Bobby Paterson, happiest CEO, added: "SXSW is a massive date on the calendar and it's essential that we tap in to the rich learnings and connections that are in abundance in such a concentrated time and space."
It was also clear the opportunity benefits established companies and newcomers alike. CultureLabel.com founder Peter Tullin told us the US is his company's fastest growing market after the UK, and the company is looking to set up a base there in 2012: "The SXSW mission is therefore perfect timing and an amazing opportunity to meet new partners. And we can do business with and talk to other tech entrepreneurs stateside about their experiences. It's rare to get to do this in such a tailored and supportive programme."
Foodsplore's Zainab Suleman said for a company in the early stages of launching, this mission was a means to rapidly acquire crucial knowledge: "Being an East London-based start-up, we are proud to represent the London tech scene. We hope to achieve success on a par with our American cousins and SXSW seems the most natural place to start. We're heading out to Austin to watch and learn from the brightest tech minds in the world!" And as a pre-launch start-up, selection is a big deal for Eventless, said Lead Thinker Michael Howe: "Not only because of the exposure this brings but also due to the destination of the mission. SXSW is a festival I've been wanting to visit for years and now I get to go with some of the best UK tech companies around."