Building a Prosperous Austin

Opportunity Austin 3.0 Update
Launched in 2004, Opportunity Austin was a 5-year economic development initiative designed to cultivate job-creating investments in Central Texas, creating regional employment growth and payroll increases. Now beginning its third 5-year phase, Opportunity Austin 3.0 works to ensure that the Greater Austin region remains attractive to entrepreneurs, business leaders and site selectors through expanded advocacy on issues such as a comprehensive regional transportation system and regional collaboration.

Year-to-date, Opportunity Austin 3.0 has exceeded its annual goals with an entire quarter remaining for additional gains.GRAPH PICTURE RESIZED

Chicago City Visit
header-825x190This fall, 12 community and business leaders participated in the 2014 Opportunity Austin Chicago Marketing Trip on September 21-24.  The trip allowed for attendees to meet with more than 31 different companies, site consultants and local headquarter companies. The group was well represented by the Central Texas region with more than five different Regional Partners in attendance:  City of Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, San Marcos, and Taylor,as well as five and 5 different Opportunity Austin Lead Investors: Avison Young, Kuper Sotheby’s, Skyles Bayne, Jackson Walker, and Cielo Property Group.

This is one of four major marketing trips that the economic development team leads each year for Opportunity Austin, with the next one set for December 7-10 to New York.

SXSW Eco: Progress for Austin’s Clean Energy Ecosystem
sxsweco-logo-2014In our growing economy, momentum is building around clean energy. Annualized job growth in clean energy for the city of Austin considerably surpasses the national rate, at 5.3% vs. 3.4%, respectively. Maggie Bishop, Director of Clean Energy & Power Technology at the Chamber, participated in the 4th Annual SXSW Eco Conference this fall. The sustainability-focused event in October brings together leaders across environmental, academia, government and business to discuss what is happening in the clean energy sector, and what is next. The event included networking activities for top clean tech and social impact startups, as well as potential investors and strategic partners, a variety of informational content sessions, and more. Read more about Maggie’s experience at this year’s SXSW Eco, here.

Mashable and British Airways: Bridging Continents
CurioCityAustin and London are arguably considered two of the most innovative cities around the world. Thanks to the latest British Airways direct flight from Austin to London, the new 787 Dreamliner will connect the two countries and bring new opportunities for the startup and tech world.

Mashable stepped forward to celebrate this new direct route between Austin and London by creating a travel innovation #CurioCity Contest in the UK. The winners were able to travel to Austin via the British Airways direct route and enjoyed a five-day tour in the Austin tech scene: winners enjoyed participating in Austin Startup week, a visit to TechShop, ACL, and more. The contest showcased a small taste of the possibilities this new direct flight will bring to both cities. Watch Mashable’s video summarizing the trip, here.

September Relocations and Expansions
There were a total of 2,247 jobs created in the month of September. Of the nine relocations this past month, Marco Fine Arts, Firefly Space Systems and Acxiom were amongst the top job creators this month. In addition, five companies expanded in September, including Progressive Insurance, which created 187 jobs in the Austin area. Click here for more details.


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SXSW Eco 2014: Progress for Austin’s Clean Energy Ecosystem and the Road Ahead

by Maggie Bishop, Director of Clean Energy & Power Technology

Maggie picI once heard an old Arabic proverb that identified three different situations in life. “The best possible situation in life, the saying goes, is to know that you know. The second-best is to know what you don’t know. The third-best: to not know that you know. The worst situation is to not know that you don’t know.”

In the heart of one of America’s top performing economies, momentum is building around clean energy. In Austin, annualized job growth in clean energy significantly exceeds the national rate, at 5.3% vs. 3.4%, respectively. Fueling this growth is innovation via the world’s largest smart grid demonstration project, the continued success of the oldest clean energy incubator in the U.S., a welcoming collaborative and business friendly environment, as well as the frequent descent of energy thought leaders into the city for first-class events. SXSW is a pillar of the Austin technology ecosystem and, through the genesis of the ECO vertical, SXSW has provided a platform for Austin, yet again, to elevate its name in a rapidly growing and extremely significant industry.

After spending the last several years focused on helping Austin businesses thrive and expand operations in our region, this summer I was thrilled to accept a position leading clean energy initiatives for the Austin Chamber. Fast forward a few months to Fall, and the 4th annual SXSW Eco Conference; the sustainability-focused event in October that is cousin to March’s Music, Film and Interactive conferences. One could make the argument that there are few better events than SXSW Eco that pose an opportunity to dive into the deep end of the clean energy ecosystem. After all, it’s a conference that brings thousands of thought leaders across environmental, academia, government and business to discuss what is happening and – of equal importance – what is next in this space. My goals were simple: introduce visitors to Austin’s clean energy ecosystem, and don’t stop moving – the latter something I picked up from SXSW Interactive.

On behalf of the Chamber team, I participated in SXSW Eco from three different angles: as host of SXSW Eco’s Startup Connect event, an attendee at sessions and as an exhibitor. My first impression was the strong presence of Austin’s clean energy community within the conference, including business pacesetters like Whole Foods Market, Zipcar, Austin Ventures and Austin Energy; leaders in clean energy research from the University of Texas at Austin and Pecan Street Inc.; representatives from the City of Austin around bike sharing, sustainability and climate programs; and our established startup ecosystem with Tech Ranch Austin and Capital Factory.

The SXSW Eco Startup Connect event was a huge success! It was structured as a “speed-dating” style event intended to connect top clean tech and social impact startups with potential investors and strategic partners via one-on-one, action-oriented meetings. More than 40  investors and partners hosted meetings during the event, including: the Austin Chamber, Pangaea Ventures, Austin Ventures, SURGE Ventures, Energy Foundry, Aster Capital, RenewableTech Ventures, Mercury Fund, Sprint, Shell, Schneider Electric, Austin Energy, SEED SPOT, Energy Excelerator, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Whole Planet Foundation and more.

In addition to this targeted event, and in order to accomplish my second goal (never stop moving), I attended as many content sessions as possible. Two were of particular interest to me:

  • Economic Drivers: Building a Robust Cleantech Cluster: This panel addressed trends and best practices of some the leading cities in Clean Energy, including Chicago, San Diego, Raleigh Durham and Austin. It was great to see Mitch Jacobson, Director of ATI’s Clean Energy Incubator on the panel discussing the evolution and growth of Austin’s cleantech cluster.
  • The Grid Edge: A Next Generation Energy System: This talk included both researchers and industry leaders who discussed a spectrum of energy trends and history, including the similarities between the telecom deregulation, electric vehicles, predictive vs. dynamic grid planning, solar pricing and more! Texas is in a unique position to lead smart grid transformation, both through our independent ERCOT infrastructure, and through globally leading research initiatives like Pecan Street Inc.

One thing I do know is Austin, and Austin was the premier topic during our time in the Chamber exhibition booth. During the Exhibition on Monday October 6th and Tuesday October 7th, the Chamber’s economic development and marketing teams, in partnership with CleanTX, hosted a booth to share clean tech and membership information with Eco participants. The Chamber was one of 60 exhibitor participants in the 2014 exhibition and connected with about 150 visitors.

chairOf note in the exhibition hall were two eye-catching local innovations. The first was a solar panel lounge chair that harnesses solar energy to charge phones. This technology is out of my alma mater, Southwestern University. Three Southwestern students designed and built this chair through a partnership with TechShop Austin – Round Rock.

packagingThe second group of note was Compadre, an innovative, green shipping container company that has found an engineering solution to shipping challenges. This company is based in Austin and just signed their first deal with one of the US’s largest commercial shipping company.

Overall, I would mark SXSW Eco a success; thousands of visitors and brilliant minds found a warm welcome at the conference and in our city. I successfully talked about Austin to anyone who would listen – many were very interested – and, much to my surprise, managed to keep moving. In this rapidly evolving industry, Eco certainly provided a platform for me to engage thought leaders and industry professionals who are undoubtedly confident in what they know and what they don’t know. It seems like the one thing we all anxiously awaiting, is what will be the next revolutionary idea in energy and what it will mean for our economy. That’s something I’m hoping to find out, and look forward to building it in Austin.

Posted in Chamber, Economic Development, Education and Talent, Global Technology & Innovation, SXSW | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SXSW Discount Offers for Members

As one of the biggest events of the year in Austin, SXSW attracts a great number of the world’s most talented tech and creative professionals. By reserving a booth at the SXSW Job Market, companies are given the opportunity to meet with potential employees in an innovative and exciting environment. November 21st marks the end of the early bird marketing rate for those interested in a SXSW Job Market booth taking place on March 13th and 14th 2015 at the JW Marriott Hotel.

Not only is there currently an early bird rate, but interested Chamber members will receive a 10% discount off the current price of participation! A package discount offer is also available for those wanting to exhibit in both the Education Expo and the Job Market. Interested Chamber members may reach Val Link at  for more information about discounted booth purchases.

And the bargains continue – Don’t forget to take advantage of the Chamber exclusive SXSW Interactive discounted badge offer! This group rate offers a greater the discount as the number of participants in the group increases. When regularly-priced badges are $1,295, the discounted group rate could be $700-$900. Grab your fellow coworkers and submit this form by October 27th to show your interest in the exclusive Chamber member group rate!

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Innovate Austin – Empowering the Business Community

At the Chamber, we believe innovation is the key driver of business and economic success. Innovate Austin works to make our city the number one place to start and grow a technology and innovation-based business. Learn more about Innovate Austin, here.

Austin Venture Capital Activity Year-To-Date




Innovate Austin October Efforts


Austin Startup Week

startup weekAustin Startup Week starts today!  As a part of Austin Startup Week, Innovate Austin is sponsoring a panel giving a special presentation in relation to the SXSW Interactive Festival scheduled for March 13-17, 2015. The presentation will provide information on how to take advantage of changes and new additions to next spring’s SXSW Interactive Festival, where there will be thousands of opportunities to meet with potential investors from around the world. Attendees to the presentation will be able to learn the best strategies to gain leverage in multiple SXSW Interactive start-up orientated platforms. Although the event is free, there are limited seats available and events are expected to sell out, so make sure to RSVP!

InnoTech Conference

innotechInnoTech Conference, the region’s largest business technology event, is taking place on Wednesday, October 15th from 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Join us, along with speaker Claiborne “Clay” Johnson, Dean, Dell School of Medicine, University of Texas, Austin to learn about cyber security, IT leadership and strategy, cloud technologies, mobility, and more! As an exclusive Chamber member perk, we have a handful of free tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. Email to secure your tickets and arrange pick-up, or register here to purchase tickets.

A-List Update From Our 2014 Hottest Startups



  • E-commerce software maker, Compare Metrics, changed its name to Edgecase. The new name “recognizes both the challenge and opportunity facing retailers to deliver better online experiences,” according to a company statement.


  • Trustradius, the leading community for professionals to share candid insights about business software, announced the release of its TrustMaps for Digital Analytics software, which ranks products based on use ratings and adoption within each individual market segment (small business, mid-size companies, and enterprises). Products are ranked on two dimensions –“Likelihood to recommend” ratings by users and the estimated relative number of websites using the product within that company segment size.

Spot On Sciences

  • According to BioNews Texas, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) granted a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I award to the Austin-based medical device company Spot On Sciences for its HemaSpot device, developed for collection and analysis of time-relevant blood samples for medical research in chronic disease and population studies in collaboration with researches from the University of Vigo, Spain.

Square Root

  • According to PR Newswire, magazine announced on August 20th that Square Root, an Austin-based enterprise SaaS company, ranked 144th among software companies, 32nd in the Austin-metro, on the 33rd annual Inc. 500|5000 list of the fastest-growing, private companies in America. Austin has 87 businesses selected for the list this year, making it the fourth city for fastest-growing businesses.

Austin Tech News

The University of Texas at Austin, Rice University and Texas A&M University have received a three-year, $3.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to become a regional innovation hub that translates academic research into useful technologies with commercial applications, according to a University of Texas press release.

According to the Austin Business Journal, Texas State University will expand its Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park business incubator following the acquisition of 20 acres of land adjacent to the San Marcos facility. The TSU System board of regents approved the purchase for $1.7 million, bringing the total size of the STAR Park to just over 58 acres, accommodating 500,000 square feet of engineering, laboratory and office space once it is completed in roughly 20 years.

When Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act in 2012, it directed federal securities regulators to establish rules for equity crowdfunding by January 2013. However, over 18 months later the Securities and Exchange Commission has yet to adopt the regulations that would allow everyday citizens to invest and take an ownership stake in startups and other companies raising money online.  Consequently, Texas and a dozen other states have taken matters into their own hands, crafting rules that will allow in-state companies to solicit and raise money from a much broader cohort of in-state investors. Read more on Austin American Statesman.

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SXSW Interactive Discounted Badge Offer: A Chamber Exclusive!


Photo of SXSW taken by Nan Palmero and used by permission under the Creative Commons license.

Photo of SXSW taken by Nan Palmero and used by permission under the Creative Commons license.

The Chamber has once again negotiated a deal with SXSW Interactive for a members only group rate on 2015 Interactive badges.

Thousands of industry innovators from across the country and around the world attend the event, so SXSW Interactive is a great place to make essential business connections with the digital leaders of tomorrow. Don’t miss the chance to learn from SXSW Interactive’s great speakers: Geneieve Bell, David Chang, Bill Gurley, Robert Kirkman, Lawrence Lessig, Nilofer Merchant, Daniel Pink, and Eric Ries among others. SXSW Interactive also features an impressive Trade Show highlighting both promising startups and established industry leaders. Attending this event (March 13-17, 2015) can be the best business decision you make this year!

The Details.

  • The more members who purchase through the Chamber, the bigger the discount, so be sure and share this offer with your member peers.
  • Walk-up rate badges are priced at $1,295, so buying early at the Chamber discounted rate is a golden opportunity.
  • Remember, the final member price will be determined by the total number of members who express interest, so let us know ASAP.
  • The price per badge will range between $700-900; depending on the final group size.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this group rate, please let us know immediately by submitting this form.

Absolute deadline to take advantage of this group rate for SXSW Interactive 2015 is end of day Friday, December 12th. We will have the final price the week of October 27th and will be in contact again with a link to purchase your badges.

Posted in Chamber, Membership | 4 Comments