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Northern Powerhouse mission to the South By Southwest Festival

Sheffield-based Techdept
Sheffield-based Techdept

Sound, cinema and software talent from Yorkshire and the Humber will be on show at the world-leading South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas thanks to a Department for International Trade (DIT) Northern Powerhouse trade mission.

More than 40 music bands, tech, film and interactive businesses from Yorkshire and the Humber, the North West and North East are on the mission to the global event from 10th to 19th March 2017 featuring the:

  • SXSW music festival – the largest festival of its type in the world due to showcase more than 2,200 acts from the unsigned to superstars – and conference;
  • SXSW film festival and conference for film makers and distributors, screen writers, actors, agents, film crews and fans;
  • SXSW interactive conference for web and game developers, programmers, bloggers, investors and inventors and tech and new media.

Mark Robson, DIT regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “The music, film and technology sectors are increasingly important contributors to the economic well-being of the Northern Powerhouse region and this mission allows us to once again showcase the burgeoning talent in those areas to a global audience at SXSW as the world’s premier event for creativity.”

Hull punk band LIFE, Huddersfield-based cinema events specialist LIVE Cinema UK and innovative software firm Techdept from Sheffield are among the businesses representing the Yorkshire region.

LIFE – the four-strong band from Hull influenced by “punk, underdogs and our own beautiful city” – make their live debut in the USA with a performance at the British Music Embassy on Thursday, 16th March during SXSW 2017.

Mez said: “We can’t wait to land in Austin and showcase a bit of Hull culture. It’s been an ambition of ours to hit the US and what a way to start by smashing it at SXSW. We are thankful for the opportunity provided by the Department for International Trade and like all shows we will play it like it’s our last – so expect pure energy and some major Hull realness!”

Joining LIFE at SXSW is Huddersfield-based Live Cinema UK, the UK’s only organisation focused on uniting artists, exhibitors, distributors and producers to create experiential cinema events.

The company – a collaborative of film exhibition and creative producers led by director Lisa Brook, projects director Jay Arnold, digital and music co-ordinator Kate Wellham, and creative producer Colm McAuliffe – curates innovative programmes and new art works inspired by the moving image, with regional, national and international partners.

Having attended SXSW for the first time in 2016, Lisa will chair a panel on Selling Celluloid: Finding New Audiences For Film with Kate addressing another on The Future of Cinema In The Age Of VR.

Lisa said: “SXSW is an amazing opportunity for us. As a company that has convergence at its heart, SXSW is THE place to explore the crossover of music, film and digital, which is at the centre of what we do.

“Alongside the panels, we are chairing and producing which address vital questions regarding the future of cinema exhibition, we will be holding key meetings with potential partners and artists in the USA to collaborate on new live cinema commissions.

“We are also scouting films and virtual reality projects to programme across the UK over the next year. As a young company, DIT’s support in attending SXSW this year and last has been absolutely vital. We simply would not be able to go without their support.”

Hosting three events at Great Britain House during SXSW is Sheffield-based Techdept, a specialist firm of 25 ‘technologists’ that produce innovative software to ‘digitally transform’ the business of clients including the Premier League, John Lewis and WWF.

Returning to SXSW for the second time with a seven-strong team headed by CEO Dan Kirby, Techdept will stage two heats and a grand finale of The Tech Off, an extravagant contest involving Dan dressed as the ‘Beyonce of Tech’ offering people a five-minute presentation on the future of tech with the crowd choosing the ultimate winner of a Wrestling Belt of Tech.

Dan said: “Our business helps companies transform using cutting-edge custom tech. To join the Department for International Trade mission is a great opportunity to both learn what’s new, and build contacts to grow.”

Mark Robson urged first-time and established exporters to follow the lead of those on the mission by accessing expert advice and information on exporting available via the DIT’s Exporting is GREAT initiative, a key element of the Government’s newly-launched great.gov.uk, a single digital destination for trade and investment, bringing together and connecting UK businesses, international buyers and international investors.