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U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to Visit Austin, Texas to Participate in South By Southwest

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
News Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs, 202-482-4883

On Friday, March 13, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will visit Austin, Texas, to engage with startups, business incubators and the broader South by Southwest (SXSW) audience to highlight the U.S. Commerce Department’s work advancing innovation, encouraging entrepreneurship, and supporting the digital economy.

Secretary Pritzker will attend SXSW, one of the largest interactive conferences in the world where musicians, startups, artists and others share ideas, create partnerships and celebrate the importance of creativity in the 21st century economy. During an armchair discussion with CEO Jon Steinberg, Secretary Pritzker will discuss how the U.S. government is adapting to emerging technologies and businesses by aligning federal policies to fuel innovation. Secretary Pritzker will also highlight how the U.S. Commerce Department invests in innovation, supports the digital economy and is helping provide American businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow and hire. The Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Michelle Lee, will introduce Secretary Pritzker before the discussion.

Secretary Pritzker will also participate in a pitch event to view presentations from and provide feedback to five of the top startups from Capital Factory, an Austin business incubator. Capital Factory Executive Director Josh Baer will host the event, and other panelists include Austin Ventures General Partner and Texas Tribune founder John Thornton and 1-800-Contacts founder Jonathan Coon.

Additionally, Secretary Pritzker will lead a roundtable with business incubators, tenant startups and other startup stakeholders at the headquarters of RideScout, a smartphone app created to increase transportation efficiency. RideScout CEO Joseph Kopser will moderate the event. Panelists at the event include 1776 founder and CEO Evan Burfield; 1871 CEO Howard Tullman; SXSW Interactive Director Hugh Forrest; and Austin Mayor Steve Adler. The discussion will focus on what the future of business incubation will look like, and Secretary Pritzker will solicit insights into how the Commerce Department can best support startup growth and share best practices with incubators around the country.