Mayor Richard Berry speaks with Aaron Estrada, founder and CEO of Albuquerque startup MetaPipe, at this week’s South by Southwest trade show in Austin, Texas. (Courtesy of Eric Renz-Whitmore)
New Mexico turned out in force at this week’s South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, pumping up the state’s reputation as a burgeoning hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.
The annual conference, held March 10-19, has become a bustling destination event for innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors to learn about new technologies and startups, share ideas, attend educational events and network with people from across the globe.
Albuquerque has led the charge in recent years to build New Mexico’s presence there. But this year, the city partnered with the New Mexico Department of Tourism to leverage its New Mexico True campaign as a broad branding tool to showcase the state’s assets and attractions.
“We need to put ourselves out in the forefront of the national conversation about innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Mayor Richard Berry, who headed the Albuquerque delegation. “To do that, we need to go where the innovators and entrepreneurs are, and South by Southwest is one of the best places for that.”
About a dozen local startups joined the delegation, along with public officials, economic development professionals and New Mexico-based entrepreneurs and investors. Many participated in, or led, panel discussions, some of which focused specifically on Albuquerque and New Mexico.
The mayor spoke on one panel about Albuquerque efforts to address racial equity by including more of the city’s diverse population in entrepreneurship and economic opportunity.
Representatives from Sandia National Laboratories headed a panel on U.S. Department of Energy programs to promote new clean-energy technologies.
The Creative Startups business accelerator also spoke about the global creative economy and its efforts to help aspiring entrepreneurs succeed. And New Mexico-based Cottonwood Technology Fund headed a panel on innovation in the construction, energy and transport industries.
New Mexico startups, meanwhile, worked the halls to network, share ideas and attend events, said New Mexico Technology Council President Nyika Allen.
“It’s important for local startups to get out there and make connections that can help build their businesses,” Allen said.
Five of the startups had won free, $1,500 tickets to South by Southwest in last fall’s Scrappy Startup Challenge, sponsored by the Tech Council and other Albuquerque organizations.
One of them, InnoBright Technologies, pitched its new rendering process for video animation at the prestigious Tech.co “Startup Night” competition, although it didn’t win.
“We’re showcasing New Mexico through all these events,” Allen said. “We’re getting the word out about what makes us unique in a national and global forum.”