SXSW Sydney has unveiled some of its speakers appearing at the 2023 inaugural event – including the keynote speaker – Amy Webb – an American futurist, author and CEO/Founder of Future Today Institute. Amy has been named ‘one of the five women changing the world’ according to Forbes in 2022, one of the BBC’s 100 Women of 2020, and ranked on the Thinkers50 list of the 50 most influential management thinkers globally.
With those sort of credentials, it’s no wonder Amy is the keynote speaker to this inaugural event but as well as Amy, there are more than 400 more speakers lined up including Chief Evangelist of Canva and former Apple Chief Evangelist, Guy Kawasaki. When SXSW Sydney is held in October, Sydney will be transformed as the centre of the global tech conversation.
In fact, Sydney is the first city outside of Austin, Texas, to gather some of the world’s most inspired thinkers, creators and innovators in the southern hemisphere and hold this event. SXSW Sydney will become the official annual Asia-Pacific instalment of SXSW. Sydney was chosen as the city for SXSW because it has an exciting arts and cultural scene and forges ahead in tech-innovation, ranking second in Asia for fin-tech development, and sixth globally.
SXSW Sydney will take place in multiple venues including the ICC Sydney, UTS and The Powerhouse Museum. The harbour city’s tech and cultural scene will host this future-focused event which will see the AsiaPacific’s pre-eminent creative industries come together across content pillars of Tech and Innovation, Gaming, Music, Screen and Culture. The even will run over a week from Sunday, October 15th to Sunday, October 22nd, 2023.
First featured speakers
Amy Webb has also been celebrated for her pioneering, technology-led foresight methodology which advises hundreds of leaders and organisations on how to prepare for complex futures. Amy collaborates closely with Hollywood writers and producers on film, TV programs and commercials about science, technology and the future, while her most recent book – The Genesis Machine – also expands to the field of synthetic biology, which combines biology with artificial intelligence. All of this will make her speech an unmissable keynote to catch at SXSW Sydney later in October of this year.
This is accompanied by the first unveiling of SXSW Sydney Featured Speakers, with plenty more to be
announced across the year. Appearing together on the Conference line-up will be serial entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of Colossal, Ben Lamm, and expert in the exploration of mammalian evolution, development and reproductive technologies, Andrew Pask of the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne.
In tandem with Colossal’s pursuit of the de-extinction of the Woolly Mammoth, the revolutionary genetic sciences company has now partnered with Professor Pask’s lab to further his work on the de-extinction of the Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger). Their passionate and disruptive work promises another top item on the SXSW Sydney agenda.
As Ben Lamm says: “One thing I remain hyper-focused on as a leader is bringing the best and brightest together across industries in order to celebrate technological innovation, art exploration and cultural experiences. SXSW has established the world’s zeitgeist of disruption across these verticals, and I’m honoured to continue to be connected to its global stage.”
Chief Evangelist of Canva and former Apple Chief Evangelist, Guy Kawasaki brings a lot of experience about evolving technology to SXSW Sydney. Author of The Remarkable Mindset, Wise Guy, The Art of the Start 2.0 and thirteen other books, plus host of his Remarkable People podcast, Kawasaki is one of the top speakers on the program.
Also speaking this October is Jack Reis, co-founder of Baidam Solutions, a cyber security business based in Brisbane that meets a critical gap in the First Nations business sector.
Jack Reis says about the event: “SXSW is truly a movement bringing together many cultures. My heritage is First Nations Australian, I am Badulaig (Badu man), from Zenadth Kes (the Torres Strait). When you embrace many cultures and industries you invariably introduce diversity. Bringing together and showcasing the tech, gaming and the creative industries of music and screenplay allows for more ideas, more talent, more skills, and a diversity of perspectives which increases the potential for your desired
accomplishments. I’m looking forward to experiencing this firsthand at SXSW Sydney 2023.”
Head of Screen NSW, Kyas Hepworth is a Bundjalung woman who has dedicated her career to bringing
authentic stories to the screen. She is now leading the state’s film and production strategy while also
advancing NSW’s position in Digital games. Currently on the Board of AusFilm, and previously NITV’s
Head of Commissioning and Programming and a Board Member of the Australian International Documentary Conference, Kyas’ work has covered documentaries, feature films, TV series and web series
making her a leading figure from the local Screen industry.
Lawyer, writer, filmmaker and Distinguished Professor and Laureate Fellow at Jumbunna Research,
University of Technology Sydney, Larissa Behrendt AO will be appearing – also known as the host of Speaking Out on ABC Radio.
Saudi women’s rights activist, author, podcast host, cyber security specialist and founder of the Ethical Technologists Society, Manal al-Sharif will appear at SXSW Sydney. A pioneer of a right-to-drive campaign in her home country, al-Sharif’s perspective on the intersection between human rights and technology will be a highlight of the event.
CEO and Founder of quantum technology company Q-CTRL, Michael J Biercuk is a SXSW and TEDx speaking alumnus, plus a multi-time Australian Museum Eureka Prize nominee and winner. Biercuk holds
a Masters and PhD from Harvard University, and as Professor of Quantum Physics and Quantum Technology at the University of Sydney leads a research team exploring the role of control engineering in
quantum-coherent systems. Previously, he has helped steer government investments in quantum information and advanced computer architectures.
Swedish CEO of Pophouse Entertainment, Per Sundin has worked with some of the greatest-selling Nordic artists, including Avicii, ABBA, Tove Lo, Swedish House Mafia, alongside playing a pivotal role in the rise of Spotify.
As Director of Content at Netflix, Que Minh Luu has a hand in bringing shows like Heartbreak High, Irreverent and Byron Baes to life. Luu also brings previous experience as an executive producer at the ABC, a master in scripted drama, comedy and digital content alongside time spent as a film editor.
Australian business executive Robyn Denholm is the Chair of Tesla and Operating Partner of venture capital firm Blackbird Ventures. A passionate advocate for innovation, Denholm brings illustrious life and
leadership experience from the tech industry.
Denholm says: “We believe Australia is on the cusp of a once in a generation opportunity to become a
global technology powerhouse and SXSW Sydney brings the incredible opportunity to showcase our Australian technology story to the world.”
Rohit Bhargava is an entrepreneur, bestselling author and founder of The Non-Obvious Company, dedicated to helping leaders, organisations and curators to see what others might miss, and become more creative and innovative in preparing for the future in their industries.
Sam Barlow is a BAFTA Games Award-winning game designer, and founder of Half Mermaid Productions. Sam is best known for his work as a writer and director of video games that push the boundaries of interactive narrative, such as Her Story, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Telling Lies, his most ambitious recent project, IMMORTALITY – a horror story about 20th Century filmmaking, art and death.
As Founder and CEO of American record label and media company, 88rising (home to Joji, NIKI, Rich
Brian and more), Sean Miyashiro has been a driving figure in bridging the gap between Asian and American music, primarily within the Hip Hop space. Forming as a video production company in 2015,
Miyashiro has since morphed 88rising into a multi-faceted force championing Asian creatives across the
globe, and is widely considered as one of the most forward-thinking music collectives today.
Sheila Nguyen is a leading regenerative built environment design professional, who has become a leading figure in addressing strategic and operational environmental sustainability issues within sport. Sheila was given the Honorary Lifetime Member award from the British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS) and recognised as an Australian Financial Review Top 100 Women of Influence (2019) for her leadership in galvanising the sport industry to protect and respect the natural environment. Now as Head of Sustainability for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, Dr Nguyen’s work at the cross section of climate action, sustainable development and sport continues.
Youn Sung-Eun is one of Korea’s most important film critics, an author, a member of the executive committee of the Korean Association of Film Critics, and a respected university lecturer with a PhD in film
studies. Having recently established new film commentary programs on both KT olleh TV and CBS radio,
Sung-Eun is recognised for her work in putting Korean film on the map.
Tom Verrilli is the Chief Product Officer at Twitch, where the Australian is responsible for the Product, Engineering and Applied Science teams who are behind streamer tools, content discovery, community
engagement and safety. Previously Twitch’s VP of Viewer Experience, Verrilli’s impressive career path has also included bringing NFL games to Twitter.
Award-winning artist and entrepreneur, Yiying Lu appears at SXSW Sydney as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business and Microsoft’s Top 10 Emerging Leaders in Innovation. Yiying’s iconic design creations including the Twitter Fail Whale and Chinese paper-cut Style Mickey Mouse for the Disney Shanghai opening have appeared in The New York Times, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and BBC.
Yang Yoo Min is a co-founder, CEO and executive producer at Korean production company, WOW POINT, where she oversees their extensive TV and film development and production slate including recently announced Netflix Series, Parasyte: The Grey. Yoo Min’s other recent achievements include producing a Korean adaptation of Netflix’s Money Heist, among other projects.
First music artists
SXSW Sydney is also excited to reveal the first international music acts on its festival program – with more to be announced across the year. Hailing from four countries and spanning genres from hip-hop and indie-rock to pop and punk, these rapidly-rising acts represent the first glimpse into a future-star studded music program, to be announced across the year.
Making their debut Australian appearances at SXSW Sydney are American rapper-producer teenager redveil (toured with Denzel Curry and Freddie Gibbs, scored a 8.0 Pitchfork review for his debut LP learn to swim, 3.6 million monthly Spotify listeners and counting); Canadian new-wave breakthrough solo artist EKKSTACY (appearances at Pitchfork Festival London, supported HEALTH and Purity Ring, 6 million monthly Spotify listeners); London-based quartet LOS BITCHOS (endorsed by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and The Guardian, making Coachella debut this April); Nigerian-British indie-pop songwriter CONNIE CONSTANCE (touted by BBC Radio 1, NME and The Guardian for her tracks infused with punk and soul); and ferocious Japanese punk four-piece OTOBOKE BEAVER (global sell-out shows and rave reviewed from Pitchfork, NPR, i-D and The Fader).
Supported by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, SXSW Sydney will encompass a walkable footprint within the Sydney CBD and surrounding neighbourhoods. True to the spirit of discovery at the core of SXSW, areas such as Haymarket, Darling Harbour, Ultimo, Chippendale and more will transform into a vibrant, interconnected hub of event formats including festivals, performances, premieres, exhibitions, meet-ups, speakers, pitches and networking opportunities, with ideas and surprises to uncover on every street corner.
A core part of the event is the SXSW Sydney Conference, taking place in multiple venues including ICC
Sydney, UTS and The Powerhouse Museum and more, featuring more than 400 keynotes, presentations, panels, workshops and mentor sessions with inspiring thinkers and leaders. The SXSW Sydney Technology & Innovation Exhibitions will showcase innovative and emerging tech and entertainment companies from across the Asia-Pacific region, while the Startup Village serves as a seminal spot for meet-ups, presentations and workspace areas with showcases from the brightest up-andcoming businesses across all industries and sectors.
As announced earlier in 2023, the SXSW Sydney 2023 Music Festival will take over multiple live music
venues in central Sydney, where official showcasing artists will perform in front of industry reps, media and thousands of fans and fellow musicians from across the globe. Musicians can now apply HERE to
Expanding well beyond a traditional film festival, the SXSW Sydney Screen Festival will offer a future-focused program of film, episodic content, digital, XR and social content premieres, showcasing screen-culture’s diversity in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. From red carpet premieres to immersive screen experiences, Q&As and panel discussions with creators, expect industry and public access to worldleading screen ideas and perspectives. Applications are open now to filmmakers and screen creatives HERE.
Newly announced, the SXSW Sydney Gaming Festival will celebrate the future of the industry and embrace the power and potential of games. Over 100 local and international independent games will be
playable across Showcase venues and the myriad other festival venues in the SXSW Sydney precinct.
Demonstrations, product launches, hands-on play, stage sessions, performances, screenings, unique
exhibitions and social events are waiting to be discovered, as the festival provides an opportunity for
gaming industry professionals and audiences to connect, collaborate, exhibit and build relationships with
each other in an unmissable, incomparable setting.
Geoff Jones, Chair, SXSW Sydney says: “SXSW Sydney will be a complete game-changer for Sydney
and the Asia Pacific. Locally, it will increase visitation and bolster the creative economy. Within APAC, it will facilitate a special connection between creative industries and businesses in the region – the kind that can lead to collaboration and innovation on a global scale. I can’t wait to see the opportunities flow on from October this year.”
Ben Franklin, NSW Minister for Tourism and the Arts says on the significant benefits to Sydney’s visitor economy and creative industries: “Sydney is the economic and leisure gateway to Australia with a global reputation for hosting major international events that capture the world’s attention. One of Sydney’s greatest assets is its numerous world-class event facilities, located within close proximity to the CBD. An event of this scale will activate a large number of venues throughout the city, supporting the entire ecosystem of Sydney’s visitor and night-time economy. South By Southwest Sydney will put a spotlight on the Harbour City as the major events and creative industries capital of the Asia Pacific.”
Colin Daniels, Managing Director of SXSW Sydney adds: “Today’s announcement is simply the first port in a voyage of discovery. Over the next eight months we will reveal more speakers, more music, more screen and more gaming content from Australia, the Asia Pacific and from around the world. I’m excited to partner with some of the leading innovators in the creative, business and technology communities to enable people to see their world, their work and their ingenuity from a series of new and inspiring angles.”
Jann Baskett, Co-President and Chief Brand Officer of SXSW says: “We’re excited to see SXSW Sydney come to life with its first programming announcement. From Austin alumni including Amy Webb, Guy Kawasaki, and Yiying Lu to innovative speakers from the Asia Pacific region, this lineup serves as a testament to SXSW Sydney’s commitment to providing a platform for creative thinkers across the many
industries the event will highlight.
How to attend and participate in SXSW Sydney
An SXSW Sydney badge provides access to the week-long conference, expo, festivals and networking sessions, with each badge type granting varying levels of access. Platinum and Industry badges provide core access to more than 1000 ground-breaking events and networking sessions with some of the world’s leading thinkers, performers and industry professionals, and are available for Early Bird purchase now.
Platinum badges secure the holder primary access to all programming, while Industry badges secure priority access to all conference events and industry-specific festivals, talks, workshops and parties. You can get more info here.
About SXSW: SXSW was founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, and is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of tech, film, music, education and culture.
About SXSW Sydney: SXSW Sydney will become the official annual Asia-Pacific instalment of SXSW. Sydney offers a rich and exciting arts and culture scene with beautiful galleries, acclaimed theatres and burgeoning performance spaces. Sydney continues to lead the way in tech-innovation, boasting an eclectic creative footprint, ranking second in Asia for fin-tech development, and sixth globally.
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