This year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference, a festival celebrating convergence of interactive media and the parallel film and music industries, looked much different in its 33rd year. Each March, thousands of people typically gathered in Austin, Texas for the event. This year, the five-day conference – SXSW Online – was fully virtual for the first time.

The virtual environment provided many opportunities for companies of all sizes to share their stories with a global audience. This year’s themes included “A New Urgency”, “Challenging Tech’s Path Forward”, “Cultural Resilience in the Arts”, “The Rebirth of Business”, “Transforming the Entertainment Landscape”, “Connection in Disconnection” and “An Uncharted Future.”

Once again, Michigan companies and entrepreneurs were well represented at SXSW through various conference sessions, keynotes and exhibitions. Michigan House, Michigan’s experiential embassy to SXSW, hosted three SXSW panel discussions, a virtual meetup for entrepreneurs, a Michigan startup portfolio and a Michigan House Booth for SXSW. The organization also coordinated daily online events designed for Michiganders, using Instagram and Clubhouse for connectivity.

With the 2021 event behind us, take a look at some of the ways Michigan drove conversation this year.

Ryan Hundt, Regional Director of Growth and Development at Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) spoke on the Bringing the Brightest & Best to Michigan panel. This panel, which included opening remarks from Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, centered on the changing face of the modern work environment and marketing the experience of living in Michigan. Panelists spoke to retaining and attracting new talent both across the United States and internationally, inviting those to experience what Michigan has to offer.

The Building a Future Mobility Region panel highlighted the collaboration necessary in the development of the future of mobility. Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer of the State of Michigan, was joined by Heather Wilberger of Bedrock Detroit, Carolina Pluszcynski of Ford Motor Company and Komal Doshi of Ann Arbor Spark to discuss the holistic strategies and wide-ranging partnerships Michigan is putting into place to further establish Michigan as a leader in automotive and mobility.

MEDC, Detroit Startup Week, Ann Arbor Spark and Start Garden partnered for a virtual meetup, Starting Up in the MI, bringing together founders from around Michigan to connect in a facilitated networking environment.

Over the past five years, Michigan House has led the collective effort, bringing together thought leaders from companies and organizations across the state. Many across the globe stage similar programs, but Michigan is the only state with a robust presence at SXSW. To learn more about Michigan House and its role as a catalyst for the state’s SXSW initiatives, visit