The State of Europe at SXSW 2012
March 12, 2012
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I have to say that SXSW Interactive 2012 can be called “an experience”. This is something that gives you new ideas and grow, by giving you the possibility to meet together with innovators and young entrepreneurs from the valley (and a lot of internationals) all coming to learn new trends and share experiences and ideas.

During the conference, I had the possibility to network with people from different countries, making me start thinking about how different each culture has its business approach and how they were curious and wanted to innovate. When you want to Do Innovation, to change the status quo, you need first to be willing to change yours, by listening to others people opinions, share your ideas and try to look everything with others eyes. This need of discovery, is what often push people to evade from their usual environments (as offices or even countries), go where people with the same ideas gather and challenge themselves (and their security) to acquire new knowledge and ideas.

A country  (as defined on Wikipedia) is a “geographic region associated with sets of previously independent or differently associated peoples with distinct political characteristics“. This concepts in my opinion, applies to European Union (form now on shorted as EU) as a legal union of countries, with different history, language, mentality and relative approach to innovation, while USA is an union of cultures and heritages that share a common feeling.

As said before, every EU Country has a different culture, mentality and its own approach to innovation, that indoctrinate in different ways their people to new discoveries, and making them understand the possibilities that making a long trip to meet people alike, can give them. Its particularity, that is instilled inside a person by a country’s mentality. To understand if this idea was true (or wrong), I just counted all the participants coming from each EU Country. I logged inside the “Social Portal” that SXSW gave to each subscriber, parsed the data and analyzed each person interest (as interactive, music, film) by looking at the specific package purchased. The following chart, provides a meaningful insight, on the overall participation level.

The renowned long tail is present also here, showing how United Kingdom is by far the leading country with its 1400 participants (all the other EU countries together have 1428). I think that a big part of the credit has to be given to the mentality, but also to the language that permits them to fill easily the communication gap, their government, taxes, salaries and currency exchange, that gives them the possibility to invest on themselves and travel to Texas. Here below you can find the detailed data referred to the graph above (and relative colors).

Another analysis that can be done, is understanding in which countries supposedly is better to develop on Innovation. Innovation isn’t an exclusive of the internet-related environment, people keep create new trends on other fields like music and films, and SXSW has different tracks, where people with different passions are trying to discover something new. As you can see from the table below, I have summed and listed the countries that are more interested in discovering different trends in specific fields.

While writing this article, I was thinking why the USA is good in creating innovation and why EU is following. I think that one of the many reasons (beside their mentality) is the fact that USA owns the privilege in being young as a nation, giving them the possibility to build together their own mentality and spirit. EU on the other side, often has to deal with an old and built culture, making people often losing energies on trying to make “the new” live together with “the old“.

Another data, that isn’t related to the SXSW but that I have analyzed, is the percentage of population that uses Internet in each EU country and give you a clear understanding on how some countries are more open and interested in using new internet services and standards (the detailed list can be found here).

Percentage of Internet users in every country

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  • […] on our side of the pond, European companies’ presence is well under-represented in Austin, Texas. The main reason as to why that might be is not sheer […]

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