4 reasons Austin could become the next big AI hub

Here’s why local business leaders believe Austin could become a big name in artificial intelligence.

Hugh Forrest onstage with colorful structures and a large screen behind him.

SXSW Co-President Hugh Forrest moderated a panel on Austin’s role in powering the US Tech Ecosystem at Applied Intelligence Live! on Wednesday.

Photo by ATXtoday

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Austin appears to have its finger on the pulse of innovation yet again.

Hundreds of AI technologists and enthusiasts converged in Austin this week for Applied Intelligence Live!, a two-day conference continuing at the Palmer Events Center Thursday.

At the event, local business leaders spoke on the Capital City’s role in developing this rapidly growing industry — here’s why local entrepreneurs believe ATX could become the next big AI hub.

Austin is a space where industries converge.

Firstly, the foundation is set. Several of Austin’s existing key industries, like advanced manufacturing and health sciences, provide fertile soil for the development of AI technology.

Collaboration is a part of Austin’s culture.

Austin has been known as a startup hub for decades, even earning the city the moniker of “Silicon Hills.”

In a panel Wednesday, Rebecca Taylor, Interim Executive Director at UT’s Austin Technology Incubator, said organizations like the ATI help to create an infrastructure of support.

“It’s almost like Austin is a garage band, where people show up with their talent, their skills, and their time,” she said.

Austin already has a long history with AI and innovative tech.

This isn’t the first time AI has been a buzzword among Austin entrepreneurs — not by a long shot.

Capital Factory Managing Director Shakeel Rashed pointed out that AI was gaining traction in Austin nearly a decade ago.

“Many people in Austin have been investing and working with various AI companies right from the early times,” he said. “A lot of the ideas that were brewing for a long time are coming to life right now.”

Jay Boisseau, founder of the Austin Forum, cited a legacy of Austinites like Pike Powers, who helped to build ATX’s current tech scene. Other speakers on Wednesday cited companies like National Instruments and Trilogy, which have contributed to advancing the tech workforce in Austin.

And of course, no discussion of Austin’s tech history is complete without a nod to Michael Dell of which there were many.

A graphic showing the number of employees working in key industries in Austin.

Local business leaders pointed to the presence of multiple key industries as one reason why Austin could become a strong hub for artificial intelligence technology.

Graphic by ATXtoday, data from the Austin Chamber of Commerce

The future looks bright.

Austin is positioning itself for success in AI and advanced technology, speakers said. For one, the city is seeing investments in industries that have a strong interest in AI development.

Jenelea Howell, a vice president at Informa Tech, pointed out the potential Austin impact of Texas’ commitment to funding microchip research and manufacturing. Taylor also nodded to the incoming MD Anderson medical center as one more contributor to Austin’s growing life sciences scene.

And of course, several speakers pointed out that Austin already has a portfolio of innovative, news-making tech companies experimenting in the field now. Some of the local businesses that received a shout out include:

Boisseau said he believes Austin is well positioned to soon become a strong player in this burgeoning field.
“Austin is neither the leading city in the world for AI nor the leading city in the world for health tech yet. But it’s climbing,” he said. “I feel confident that we will see tremendous achievement in Austin in AI and health technology [in the next] 10 years.”

Do you work with AI? Let us know how it affects your industry.

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