“Luleå, what’s that?” was a recurring question during the giant festival SXSW in Austin. At the exhibition booth, at their own brunch and all around the city the message was sent – “Luleå loves Austin”. More than 40 Luleå residents were on hand for inspiration, to build relationships and establish business contacts.

SXSW began as a music festival almost 30 years ago. Currently it is one of the world’s biggest music festivals, which also includes interactive media and film exhibitions. People come from around the world and the interactive part of the festival is growing every year.

“SXSW is an important meeting place for the digital and creative industries, which are two of Luleå’s focus areas. Therefore, we were there to connect and network with the goal of creating partnerships and business opportunities,” says Anna Degerman, Growth manager for Luleå.

During SXSW, Luleå organized a brunch to spotlight the cooperation agreement and meet friends in Austin. At the brunch there was a live stream from Ice Music, where musician Olle Nyman played a piece from the City of Songs project. On location at the Ice Concert Hall was Luleå City councilor, Niklas Nordström and Ice Music’s founder, Tim Linhart.

“For us it has been very positive to be part of this cooperation agreement with Austin, even though we are a relatively small town, we share the same ideals and values of our investments in innovation and creative industries,” says Niklas Nordström".

In Austin, there were over 80 people from Sweden and Austin in place. From Austin were representatives from the mayor’s office, business developers, entrepreneurs, innovators and representatives from the university. The Swedish Embassy in Washington was also there.

“It was great to see the Ice Music, so cool. We are very interested to cooperate with companies in Luleå,” says Kim Taylor, CEO Taylor Collective Solutions in Austin.

Luleå band The Magnettes played at the brunch and also had more gigs during the week.

“SXSW has been extremely successful for The Magnettes. By cooperating with City of Songs we have gotten to know the founder of the House of Songs, Troy Campbell, who has played an important role in the band’s success during the festival. They have been booked on a tour of England and there are several US music companies that have shown interest,” says Pär Soini, CEO, BD Pop.

After participation at SXSW, Luleå has evaluated the city’s participation, including a survey questionnaire. Most people who went are happy with what they got out of the trip. Many have made new contacts that will hopefully lead to future business.

“We have also received a lot of good ideas on what we should do at SXSW next year,” says Anna Degerman.

Text: Amanda Karlsson
Photo: Mats Fjellström