Digital Mission Not Impossible: Showcasing 35 UK tech firms in the US

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"Hands on" with the Palm Pre

So we’re taking 35 of the UK’s digital/tech companies over to the US to get into the vibe over there and hopefully do some business. Specifically this is the “Digital Mission” – a kind of trade mission, but with more sex appeal – to Austin, Texas for the South by South West Interactive (SXSWi) conference from 12-18 March this year. Established in 1994, SXSWi is now a byword for emerging media and an amazing networking opportunity for these companies. The Digital Mission is organised by digital networking community, Chinwag, on behalf of UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) and the participating companies will get some instruction on extending their business to the US, and showcasing the “BritPack” scene at with a “Great British Breakfast” for 300 delegates during the conference. The event follows the Digital Mission to New York in September 2008 – also organised by Chinwag for the UKTI, and supported by TechCrunch UK.

The 35 successful companies were selected from over 100 entries by an advisory board consisting of Mike Butcher, TechCrunch UK Editor (me); Herb Kim, Codeworks CEO; and Sarbjit Bakhshi, Head of Information & Technology Group, UKTI. Official sponsors Sun Startup Essentials and legal experts, Winston & Strawn; and technical development experts, Core Objects.

More information about each company can be seen on the Digital Mission website but here they are for your delectation. Congrats to all for being selected:

  • Jules Morgan

    Ok, first off, congratulations to all these companies. Strip clubs in Texas are amazing and justify the cost of the air fare alone (although the law preventing full nudity and alcohol in the same venue is weird and slightly hateful).

    I can’t fault anyone for applying (good for you), and the ‘panel’ can only pick what’s in front of them, but I’m left feeling a bit disappointed. I want people over there to a) realise that the UK isn’t anything like France with their long lunches fancy ‘quality of life matters’ attitude and b) sit up and take notice of the UK scene.

    To that end, I wanted to see companies like Spotify (who imo are amazing) and Kublax (UK version of Mint) as part of the SWAT team going over. Is it that these companies are going but weren’t aware of this initiative, were aware but weren’t interested, or not going ?

    Arrington-style disclosure : I have no vested interest here but I do know people at Skive, We Are Social and Booking Bug. Grats you guys.

    Links :

  • Mike Butcher

    Jules – I may be wrong (so don’t take this as gospel) but I don’t recall seeing a Kublax application for the mission. If they don’t apply they don’t get considered. And I believe Spotify is a Swedish startup, so going on a UK gov backed trade mission would seem a bit odd.

  • Jules Morgan

    Yeah Ok, this is true, I guess I might be bending the rules a bit – but their HQ is in London so there’s certainly a claim for dual nationality and it would be good to see them involved.

    Regarding Kublax, I guess that since their service is aimed at the Uk market they might be less interested in SXSW.

  • Sam Michel

    Hi Jules – we tried to ensure the Digital Mission was publicised as widely as possible (thanks Mike for blogging it) as well as a bunch of others places, through regional agencies and the UKTI.

    There’s also:

    mailing list –
    twitter –

    for news, but it’s always a challenge to make sure enough people know about it and have a chance to apply during the weeks that the process is open.

    Hopefully the missions are flying the British flag and the feedback I got from the NY locals last time showed they were impressed with the people that they met from Blightly. It still surprises me how little some of the NY crowd knew about UK/Europe. There’s still a job to do.

    And if you do know of anyone who could be a Digital Mission company, please do let us know, we’d be delighted to spread the word.

    On the Spotify front, my understanding of the UKTI rules is that the company needs to be HQed in London, but I can get that clarified if there’s interest.

    Hope that helps, but shout if you need more info –

  • Jof Arnold

    Wait… they go to SXSW? Goddamit! You bury your head in your work for 5 minutes and you miss everything!

    Actually, doubtful we’d have got in though; that’s basically a list of my favourite UK startups up there.

  • Alex Housley

    Congrats to all of the above! There’s enough quality here to convince anyone that the UK startup scene is alive and well in 2009. Looking forward to SXSW coverage and feedback.

  • Anjali

    Seriously wish we’d known…..

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