2012: Friendship Cities

2012: First Digital Trade Mission to Hackney

What started as ATX Digital Trade Mission Membersa U.K. Trade & Investment (UKTI) organized Digital Trade Mission by the City of Austin to Hackney in January 2012 has grown into an innovative and economically robust partnership between two cities and a plethora of smart people. Read more about the first Digital Trade Mission 2012 here.

SXSW is known as the Mecca for innovation, networking and making connections; it is a goldmine for those that seek to make and nurture business relationships and SXSW 2012 proved to be no exception. To appreciate the immense strides Austin Hackney United has taken from 2012 to now, one must first step back to mid-2012 when the seeds were first planted by visits from a business or civic leader from each community to the other.  In January 2012, our cities joined in a first-phase Friendship Cities agreement.


JaAustin and Hackney Become Official Friendship Cities 2012nuary 2012: Friendship Cities

From January 22-26, 2012 the first ever Digital Trade Mission from Austin visited Hackney and its London environs to learn more about the community, meet counterparts in their respective fields and to explore future exchange opportunities together.  The group included executives from tech companies Phunware, Spredfast, Appconomy, Portalarium, Small World Labs, Ricochet Labs, Replay Games and Third Cousins Media.  Also representatives from the Central Texas Angel Network, City of Austin, British Consulate, U.K. Trade & Investment, and the Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce.  On January 25, 2012, in the board room at Mother London creative agency in Shoreditch, Hackney, the Austin-Hackney Friendship Cities Agreement was signed by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe, witnessed by members of both Friendship Cities committees.


Brandon Schmidt in Solidfield, Hackney

March 2012: SXSW Connections Lead to Strategic Internship

Brandon Schmidt, a MBA candidate in Digital Media Management at St. Edward’s University in Austin, connects with visitors from the London Borough of Hackney during SXSW 2012. Schmidt nurtures these important contacts and parlays them into an invitation to visit Hackney during the following summer as an Intern for the London Borough of Hackney.

Summer 2012:  Shoreditch Fringe Festival & Summer 2012 London Olympics

Following up on introductions made during SXSW, Brandon Schmidt, lands a summer internship in Hackney.  There he spent an unforgettable three months working as the Digital Media Coordinator for the Shoreditch Fringe Festival, a seven week long multi-disciplinary arts and music series of events which ran alongside the London Summer Olympics in which Hackney was one of the five official hosting Burroughs.  The Olympic site in Stratford sits directly as Hackney’s Eastern edge.  During his time there, Brandon built and deepened relations across a wide range of Hackney citizens.

Fall 2012:  Inaugural Hackney House Austin

Planning and preparation for Hackney House Austin– Soon after his return from Hackney, Brandon Schmidt was retained by his new colleagues at Hackney Council and the local professional community there to help plan and project manage a sizeable Hackney presence at the next SXSW in Austin.  He did this as his Independent Study course as part of his MBA program.  Five months of conference calls and continuous email communications resulted in Hackney securing a venue in the heart of Downtown Austin in which to host their community trade mission debut on the international stage.