South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual film, music, interactive media and conference-packed festival launched in 1987 and held in Austin, Texas (US). It has become an important place for startups to gain momentum.

Indeed, over 50% of attendees from organisations are key decision-making individuals, and 63% of attendees are looking for new business opportunities (2016 report).

Startups vie for a chance to pitch at its annual Accelerator Pitch Competition.  Since 2009, SXSW Accelerator has showcased more than 300 startups and report that 63% of them went on to secure a combined $2.6 billion in funding, and that 13% have since been acquired by the likes of Google, British Telecom, Huffington Post, Apple, and Live Nation.  The event is also famous for having seen the launch of Twitter in 2007 and Foursquare in 2009.

Here is a glimpse of the insights we’ve learnt from SXSW 2017:

  • The Biotech industry is bound for disruption. CRISPR co-founder Jennifer Doudna was present to talk about how the gene-editing technology could revolutionize current genome engineering methods such as using gene drives to prevent the spread of pathogens by insects. Check out her keynote here!
  • Innovations in the Biotech industry also include the creation and augmentation of natural materials under laboratory conditions. Bolt Threads CEO Dan Widmaier gave a talk on the future of fashion and technology. Bolt Threads is a startup focusing on harnessing natural proteins – such as those found in spider silk – to create synthetic fibres for a multitude of uses.
  • An interesting talk from Disney on how machine learning and AI are being used to reinvent the Disney experience. Interactions with characters will be more customized and human-like.

SXSW 2017 Startups trends : AI Everything, Health is Digital, Digital Optimisation & Value Cybersecurity

50 startups pitched at SXSW. Here are the 4 main drivers of innovation to remember from this year’s edition:

sxsw startup takeaways

4 startups to remember from SXSW 2017

  • CogniToys is an educational IT startup focusing on the development of smart devices for children . Their screenless dinosaur toys, when launched into the mass market, have the potential to change the ways in which children interact with AI for learning and play.
sxsw 2017 cognitoys

Cognitoys intends to revolutionize education through play with its screenless dinosaurs. (Photo by Vimeo)

Read more about CogniToys here.

  •  QuiO, a startup that aims to develop smart injection devices and connected software for monitoring, engaging and supporting patients taking injectable therapies at home.
sxsw quio injector

Photo by Flywheel.

Such startups place emphasis on improving healthcare for individuals through providing better patient selection and support. This, in turn, results in better treatment for consumers and better businesses for the providers.

  • Umbo is a neural network based cloud-connected camera that improves its protection of people and assets through interactive learning over time.
sxsw 2017 umbo

Photo by TechCrunch

  • Brizi is a remote-controlled camers that allow for fan-created content to be curated instantly. 
sxsw 2017 brizi

Brizi’s robotic drones can capture images of any event from feet up in the air. (Photo by The Globe and Mail)


Read our full report about the 2017 edition of SXSW: