What I Learned at South By Southwest 2017

If you ask ten different people what South by Southwest (SXSW) is all about, you’ll likely get ten different answers. Earlier this year, I gave a talk to Villanova faculty on the important role that diversity plays in innovation and entrepreneurship and suggested that we all work to find ourselves at the intersection at seemingly disconnected ideas and individuals in order to promote this. When asked for an example of such an occasion, I pointed to SXSW. To some, it’s a film festival showcasing masterful cinematic arts, to others it’s a series of concerts and musical acts – large and small, and still to others it is the place to learn about the newest trends and technologies impacting technology and entrepreneurship. To me, it’s the perfect converging of Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship. Everyone is into SXSW these days, even the Vatican was there.


After a successful Villanova on Set program, I stopped over in Austin for this year’s SXSW on my way back to Philadelphia. In addition to participating in Philly Startup Leaders Amplify Philly initiative at SXSW, I hosted a Villanova event with the Villanova Club of Austin. I am fortunate to work closely with Villanova students and faculty on a daily basis and always enjoy the opportunity to connect with our community around the globe. This was a unique opportunity to take advantage of SXSW’s global appeal and engage Villanovans from Austin with those visiting Austin for SXSW.


On the technology front, wearables and virtual reality were highlighted over and over at SXSW. This echoed what we learned the previous week about how virtual reality is becoming more important to the entertainment industry on our visits with JuVee Productions and with the Universal Studios Post Production facilties. At SXSW, I attended an event with Comcast and was able to meet Kambi and Robert from 5th Wall who created the virtual reality experience for Universal’s The Mummy; they provided valuable insight on how to incorporate VR into our academic experiences on campus utilizing the Oculus Rift and CAVE setups that we have in Falvey Memorial Library. This is just one example of the types of interactions and connections that come so easily at SXSW.


Overall, look for the ICE Institute and Villanova to increase our presence at initiatives and programming like SXSW as we continue to empower our community to discover and take action on new ideas that change the world.