One of the world’s key festivals for music, film and the digital industries, the South by Southwest (SXSW), gets underway on March 10-19, 2017 in Austin, Texas. The festival attracts around 70,000 visitors every year and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Delegates include managers and artists who present the latest trends in the creative sector. Celebrity guests in the past have included former U.S. president Barack Obama, Edward Snowden, U.S. whistle-blower and former CIA employee, as well as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The Hanse City of Hamburg will also be presenting the attractive region along with 70 Hamburg-based firms and start-ups. Dr. Carsten Brosda, culture senator, noted: “In a globalised world, it is vital for many creative companies to be internationally present and to be able to make contacts.” SXSW offers ideal framework conditions as it’s considered a launching pad onto the U.S. market for young, innovative companies.
Hamburg to present in U.S.
Financed by the the city and organised by representatives of the Hanseatic music industry and the Reeperbahn Festival, Hamburg’s presentation features all kinds of networking events, company and product presentations as well as music. The activities range from start-up pitches, panel discussions and multiplier events e.g. Reeperbahn-Hamburgers, as well as international PR and media work. These are likely to open up all kinds of opportunities for participating firms and help them lay the foundations for international expansion. During SXSW, four Hamburg-based companies will present their interesting social business ideas for solving social and environmental problems. Julia Becker, a representative of Social Impact Lab that supports young, social business start-ups in Hamburg, said: “Hamburg has enormous economic clout and is innovative in many sectors in addition to a multi-layered cultural scene and very active social companies. That prompts mainly young people to come up with new business ideas and with the motivation to achieve change. Entrepreneurship can be learnt well and solidified in Hamburg. The same applies to us as at Social Impact Lab.”
Refugee First Response Center – language helps
Harald Neidhardt, a digital pioneer and initiator of Future City Campus, will present his technology on March 12 for tackling water scarcity, famine and wars in developing countries that are still forcing thousands of people to take flight. On arrival at their destination, language barriers loom for refugees making first-aid almost impossible. Yet many refugees need immediate medical aid and find themselves facing doctors with little or no command of Arabic or Farsi. Many refugees speak neither English nor German and communication becomes a huge stumbling block. This is where Neidhardt’s technology comes in.
Neidhardt is the founder of MLOVE, a media and event company, and together with Mirko Bass, who works for Cisco Systems in Hamburg, the duo have come up with a high-tech container equipped with both medical equipment, a network and HD-video conferencing infrastructure. This allows doctors and medical staff to make rapid online contact with a highly flexible interpreter service. Interpreters in about 50 languages are available quickly per live video broadcast and help doctor and patient communicate with each other. Neidhardt explained: “Technology is great and fun and can be really meaningful. When many refugees arrived in Germany, we wondered how we could help. Ten of these smart containers have been used meanwhile in Hamburg. Our concept shows how innovation can help more people using the same resources. Now we are aiming to set up 100 such containers in war zones.“ Naturally, he hopes to stir up support for this objective during SXSW Festival.
Lemonaid for the world
What began in a kitchen in 2008 is now Lemonaid & ChariTea and their bottled lemonades and iced teas can be found in over 3,000 select catering services. Launched to incite and shape social change, Lemonaid’s drinks contain only biological and fair trade ingredients. Five eurocents of every bottle purchased go towards the charitable organisation Lemonaid & ChariTea e.V. So far, the company has earned over EUR 1.2 million for diverse development projects. Jakob Berndt, founder, said: “This is our little juice’s shop first trip to Austin. The outcome should be a growing network of opinion leaders in the United States…at best decision-makers at start-ups in Silicon Valley so that we could feature in fridges there also.”
Viva con Agua – water for everybody
Viva con Agua GmbH is another bottled drinks producer and builds on the same-named, non-profit organisation initiated by former St. Pauli footballer Benjamin Adrion who faced astonishing water shortages during a training camp in Cuba. VCA aims to give people worldwide access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation. To this end, at least 60 per cent of profits earned from bottled drinks go towards projects in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nepal and India. Michael Fitz, co-founder of Viva con Agua, said: “We are delighted to be getting people interested in global, clean water issues using universal language, art, music, people and social commitment during SXSW. Some 14 artists have visualised one song each from the Milky Chance album ‘Blossom’ and show nicely how creative people can work towards clean water.“
Nüwiel’s intelligent bicycle trailer
The start-up Nüwiel is also aiming for environment friendliness and transports food using an electric-run bicycle trailer that can travel uphill. Founded by Fahad Khan, Natalia Tomiyama und Sandro Rabbiosi, the bicycle trailer has been designed for inner-city traffic. The brake and accelerating system make it easier to transport luggage on a bike. Sensors measure the trailer’s weight and can detect uphill or downhill stretches of road. That regulates the propulsion of the electric motor when required and activates the triple brake system. The trailer can easily transport loads of up to 120 kg. Nüwiel has already developed and tested a prototype and the patent has been registered. The inventors have also won the EXIST, InnorampUp and Climate-KIC funding programmes. Tomiyama noted: “Our main goal is to expand our network at the contest. Naturally, we will be sounding out our market potential.“ She and many others will be watching out for many creative and innovative social business ideas presented at SXSW.