Global Innovators Showcase at South By

Creative Expo Displays Innovations in Tech and Business

Juan (JC) Ramirez Delgadillo, Web Editor-in-Chief

South by Southwest (SXSW) is a city wide conglomeration of a variety of events ranging from film screenings, musical performances, and other creative events such as flatstock, an art exhibition, and the Creative Industry Exposition (Expo). The Creative Industry Expo is home to many innovations such as food technology that can extract stronger flavors out of plants without the use of sugar. Global innovations are a big part of the Creative Industry Expo due to many foreign investors and innovators gathering to showcase their country and what it has to offer.


Flanders Investment and Trade is a government agency from Flanders, the northern region of Belgium. According to Alexander Bleyaert, representative of Flanders Investment and Trade, the agency helps companies from Flanders grow internationally.


“We’re basically governmental agencies that represent the interests of our region, Flanders, northern part of Belgium, but also our companies,” Bleyaert said. “If companies want to internationalize into some other place in the world, we help them. I help companies in the digital tech field, so everything related from Mechatronics to ICT [information and communication technology]. So one day, it could be a gaming company, the next day, a semiconductor company. So every day is a new, exciting company to work with.”


Shauna Zajac is the Head of Client Engagement for Menacom Group, a company that handles the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship in Jordan. Zajac believes in the importance of advertising internationally to promote young entrepreneurs.


“We have a lot of young, really talented entrepreneurs, and a lot of young tech savvy talent,” Zajac said. “I think over half the population in Jordan is under the age of 24, so it’s a very vibrant, youthful population. They’re highly educated, and one of our main goals is to really promote our young, innovative, and creative talent.”


In order to promote the company and its partners, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship travels to many different events similar to SXSW. Jordan is a developing country, according to the World trade organization, and one of the goals of the organization is to promote both Jordan as a country and its companies, according to Zajac. 


“We try to engage Jordanians who live abroad in helping spread the word about Jordan, because it’s a small country, not many people know much about it,” Zajac said. “So we do a lot of events like this. … After we finish South by Southwest, we’re actually headed to Silicon Valley, we’re going to meet with some companies and potential investors there, as well as members of the Jordanian diaspora.”


There are many benefits to investing in companies outside of the United States, according to Brian Bourgerie, Enterprise Manager at Invest Puerto Rico. Bourgerie explained the benefit of investing in companies in Puerto Rico.


“Invest Puerto Rico is a public private partnership and is the official business and Investment Attraction agency for Puerto Rico,” Bourgerie said. “Everything comes down to whether we bring new money to the island and create good jobs. Puerto Rico is a very unique part of the United States as a territory, that actually gives it a lot of very interesting benefits for US citizens, and just business owners and investors all around the world.”


Another country that has a growing economic importance is Jordan, a country in southwestern Asia. According to Zajac, Jordan has a booming gaming and Internet Protocol (IP) sectors that have a lot of potential.


“We’ve had a couple of our own local gaming companies that have been acquired by Stillfront, which is a huge mobile gaming group,” Zajac said. “We have a big Jordanian delegation with us for SXSW. Aside from gaming, we also have a really big IP and business process outsourcing industry. So a lot of companies use Jordan for things like call centers like that. … Jordan is also the biggest creator of Arabic content online, so that is something that has a lot of potential.”


For Flanders, the business model they are using is the business-to-business model, used by companies that produce more of their transactions with other companies. According to Bleyaert, Flanders works to understand each company’s individual needs.


“In Belgium, especially in Flanders, we were very strong in B2B, this business to business model,” Bleyaert said. “So we’re not doing much with consumer products. We try more to find other businesses here to partner with, we try to network as much as possible, we try to understand their regions. We have six offices in the United States. And if a company comes in the gaming sector for example, we try to know as much gaming context as possible and know all the big studios or investors and that’s how we hope to bring them in contact.”


The event took place March 12-15 at the Austin Convention Center. Next year investors will return from March 8-16 at SXSW 2024, according to SXSW.