The Dutch innovation at South by South West – SXSW Austin

A cross-sector and interconnecting conference and festival took part in the heart of Texas, where birds of all feathers can find their own and new networks. Our NBSO Texas Chief Representative Bee Kothuis joined the Dutch delegation. Most people know about the Tech, Arts and Culture tracks with their amazing and deeply inspiring line-ups and many Dutch connections. But there is more: innovative businesses and organizations in the domains of Sports, of Energy Transition, and of Climate Change & Resilience to name a few. And yes, the Dutch are there too! Let’s take a look at the main highlights:

Sports: Dutch companies and organizations in the Dutch Sports-tech sector expanded their network and connected with potential clients and collaborators in Austin and Dallas. The Consulate General in Miami hosted these Dutch sport-tech businesses from the Partners in Business program and more. On the program organized by Orange Sportforum and CG Miami: the Sports Track at SXSW [], connections in Austin and Dallas with sports executives and visits to national league sports venues. An important message on the need for inclusive sports and how innovative technology can support this, was conveyed at the panel ‘Doing good through sports’ with Edson Braafheid of the Play Mental Foundation, Houssin Bezzai of the KNVB, Rick Scholte of Sonoma and Jur Vellema of Alphabeats; moderated by Ruth Emmerink, Consul at CG Miami. Many thanks to our Austin Honorary Consul Marius Haas and UNT Dallas Sport professor Bob Heere for their support, input and hosting. Lots of opportunities to come for Dutch SME’s with Soccer World Cup in 2026 playing in Houston, Dallas & Miami and Olympic Games in LA in 2028 in the agenda!

Energy Transition: From Houston, our long-time partners from Greentown Labs and the Greater Houston Partnership hosted sessions in the Energy Track. We saw Jane Stricker of the GHP Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI) and Juliana Garaizar of GTL taking on discussions on opportunities and challenges of transitioning Houston to Energy Capital of the World 2.0. The existing knowledge, infrastructure and capacity in the Texas energy sector, combined with worldwide initiatives, creates many openings for innovative business and knowledge, also from the Netherlands. For one: the current active Texas and Rotterdam joint efforts on a hydrogen corridor to transfer the first green hydrogen molecules in 2026 over the ocean. We look much forward to bringing in Dutch initiatives to this track at SXSW2024!

Climate Change & Resilience: Two highlights: The amazing Dutch Water Arch developed by Dropstuff makes people aware of the amount of water they use in a day. This immersive art installation, raising awareness of the ever-increasing use of clean drinking water, was one of the highlights of the Creative Industries Expo. In a water barrel organ, participants pump up their 24 hr water usage that then is released above their head. After SXSW, the Water Arch is on its way to the International Water Week in New York. Should you be there: don‘t miss it!

Bruno Avila, I-team director of the Digital Urban Planning Lab of Amsterdam, discussed Civic Design: How to build cities for the future.

Tech, Arts and Culture: And of course, there was much more Dutch presence in Austin. DG Tech, Arts and Culture companies and organizations were featured onstage by Barbera Wolfensberger, Director of Culture and Media at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, who also interviewed Boyan Slat of the Ocean Cleanup. Our Dutch minister of Digitalization, Alexandra van Huffelen, addressed ‘Dutch Value-Driven Policy Design to Tame Big Tech’.

Dutch Digital Design presented an extraordinary panel on innovative & inspiring Dutch Digital Design (hey!) by Drone Stories, DROPSTUFF Media, Cote d’Azur, and POLYMORF.

POLYMORF premiered at SXSW with their mind-boggling installation ‘Symbiosis’ at the XR Experience

Last but not least: Cote d’Azur!

SXSW was the perfect moment for launching a new Dutch business office in Austin: welcome Cote d’Azur! A digital brand and experience company, perfectly fitting in Austin’s fast-moving and quickly expanding tech business environment. Cote d’Azur is a frontrunner at design and build of digital products, ecosystems, and campaigns: check them out at

Be aware: Hardly anything of all this would have happened without the unstoppable energy of the fantastic New Dutch Wave, Creative NL, and Dutch Digital Delta teams. Special thanks to Danny, Arne, Linda, Jean-Paul, Bert, Monique, Vera, Rory, and all of you for bringing together, hosting, organizing tours, supporting, and a lot more for the 150+ SXSW participants from the Netherlands. We look forward already to SXSW 2024! Get in touch if you’d like to know more or like NBSO Texas to think along for your business’ SXSW 2024 attendance.

Psst: one last tip (for these readers that made it all the way to the end ;)) – if you get a chance: check out the movie ‘TETRIS’! It premiered at SXSW and tells the unbelievable roller-coaster story of Henk Rogers, co-founder of Tetris and Honorary Consul of the Netherlands in Hawaii. Not to be missed!