Fast and Curious By Gergely Boszormenyi Nagy
Our country has only been successful in times when we were fast and curious. Fast in trend recognition, in identifying the factors that were poised to determine our foreseeable future. And curious as to how to adopt these trends, incorporating them into our own models in Central Europe. This is why King Matthias sent his envoys all the way to renaissance Florence to explore art and science, why the founders and patrons of Budapest invited British and French urban thinkers to our newly unified capital in the late 1800s. And this is exactly why Design Terminal, the agency for creative industries in Hungary, is bringing a fresh pool of homegrown talent to Austin, Texas in 2015.
Why there? As professor Richard Florida frequently points it, periods of economic history are overwhelmingly defined by their most innovative cities, those select metro regions that bravely blend together the various layers of enterprise and creativity – from big business to performing arts, from proven industry recipes to experimental quests. Austin – 2013’s best and last year’s second best-performing American city according to the Milken Institute – is definitely one of the world’s dozen trendsetter cities. It’s no surprise that global consulting firms like Stratfor as well as a number of change agents – local incubators like Capital Factory and well-established international accelerators like TechStars – are already in town with massive optimism (Not to mention Elon Musk’s SpaceX which has also picked the region for its newest infrastructure buildup). So what’s the secret?
- An academically and ethnically diverse pool of young professionals, thanks to the University of Texas, one of the best brands in US higher education.
- An exceptionally dense cultural scene – particularly when it comes to music – that never allows the city to drift into the sleepiness defining many state capitals.
- The will of big business – industries like oil are traditionally strong in Central Texas – to discover and invest in new economy.
- A friendly and calculable business environment with low taxes, pro-enterprise leaders constantly in power.
- Not least, a unique stuff called South by Southwest (SXSW), a festival that unites culture and business, rockstars and tech founders, users and investors, film, music and interactive in an organic setting.
So how can we best utilize this great mass of opportunity in favor of our talented Hungarian protégés? By letting them take a dive, learn, upgrade and be inspired: urging them to access networks, bring knowledge home and go forward with an even more sophisticated mindset.
In cooperation with the founders of Prezi and Ustream, the newest generation of our country’s world class entrepreneurs and Bridge Budapest, their own public awareness body, we selected five promising local companies to showcase at the SXSW in March 2015. The world’s first fully automated home brewery, a crowdsourced neuromarketing platform, a video distributor, a movement data integrator and the next level of remote controlling are all on board, already training hard for their trade show presence and the pitch events.
Learning is certainly not the whole story. Don’t think we’re not conscious enough to realize that Budapest, an exciting European capital with rich industrial heritage (ranked recently 12th among the highest performing metropolitan economies in 2013-2014 by Brookings Institution) also has plenty to offer the Austin crowd. At SXSW this year, Design Terminal is organizing a panel introducing three fast-growing startups with strong US market shares that all rely on product teams based in their vibrant hometown: taking advantage of a high quality, competitive workforce while enjoying much lower costs, these businesses are in the best place to point out why it’s worth to split the operations between the two sides of the Atlantic. We’re also bringing along the latest releases of award winning Hungarian animation from of the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME), our legendary talent powerhouse.
Being fast and curious is a part of the strategy. Going abroad is key to keeping our future at home.
The author is General Director of Design Terminal, the agency for creative industries in Budapest, Hungary.