Not Even a Pandemic Can Curb the Creative Innovation to Be Showcased at SXSW

19 U.K. companies at the forefront of emerging technology

The ongoing pandemic and evolving tech disruptions have precipitated a step-change in the ways marketers connect with customers and collaborate with partners. The innate need for social connection—made more acute due to social distancing—is propelling innovation further, as people search for ways to replace or reclaim habits of the past. At the forefront of this new frontier are the British companies joining the U.K.’s Department for International Trade (DIT) at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference as part of the organization’s annual trade mission. 

As audience behaviors change and events evolve, the virtual SXSW Conference will be an opportunity to highlight new and emerging technologies across creative industries, as well as how they’re influencing future developments globally. The U.K. and the following British companies are uniquely positioned to foster the creativity and visionary leadership that makes for ideal dance-partners as you consider new ways of connecting with your fans and customers.

Can you hear me now?

In a world where you can be both author and audience, composer and critic, AI and machine learning technology opens up a range of possibilities to suit individual tastes. AI Music software allows brands to create a unique sonic identity and real-time adaptation of music. FX Digital powers next-generation TV apps like Eurosport and Discovery through voice-enabled technology. By using using machine learning to build the most accurate source of global music publishing data in the world, Blokur helps publishers, labels and music rights-holders get paid. And Engineered Arts creates memorable interactive character experiences with its AI-powered humanoid robots, which are featured at attractions, museums and robotics labs around the world. These innovators are creating paradigm shifts for both consumers and creators. 

I want to hold your hand

As many in-person social diversions have become few and far between, appetite has grown for stories and experiences that transport us beyond our own four walls. uses creative AI to allow fans to chat directly with characters that can then alter the storyline. You can immerse yourself in Factory 42’s multi-sensory approach to story creation in content like the award-winning VR experience Hold the World with David Attenborough. Filmily aggregates fan footage from thousands of mobile phones into branded content that can be used on stadium screens, broadcast and social channels. Whether the subject is broadly accessible or niche, you can journey through your content with your favorite characters and fellow fans (or just yourself).

One small step into the metaverse

The current shared experience in a mainly virtual setting may evolve post-pandemic into a hybrid existence that can elevate our solo and shared experiences. While the act of going to concerts is on pause for most people, REWIND builds spatial experiences that allow companies like Warner Music to create concerts in your own living room with the look and feel like being at a live show.’s game engine-powered virtual conferences provide attendees with games, 3D product demos, and digital tote bags. With expertise in motion design, visual effects and digital experiences, Territory Studios creates assets that live on different platforms and can be utilized for film, games, theme parks and apps. U.K. innovations that have helped us make the most of the current reality may become more than just make-good solutions during Covid-19, and instead, the future of experiences.

Let’s be friends

To create emotional resonance with consumers, advertiser need to engage in public dialogue on multiple platforms as both partners and participants. Trailblazing agencies such as Crowd, Social Chain, and Tommy have developed deep expertise in connecting brands with their audiences in these spaces. HeyHuman’s HeyLab applies learnings from neuroscience to facilitate more effective campaigns. And to help brands engage customers in different regions with cultural sensitivity, Convosphere’s multilingual social listening capabilities distill global social data into actionable insights.

Won’t you join us?

There are a number of agencies addressing movements such as sustainability and social justice in their brand strategies, and some are finding novel ways to do it. Changing behavior for the better is at the heart of 23red and Latimer, which have launched campaigns around social justice topics such as public health, equality and sustainability. In an effort to make the internet a more positive place, Good-Loop offers customers the opportunity to experience advertising in exchange for the advertiser’s commitment to donate to a user-identified charity. And Digital Detox bakes sustainability into its digital products by designing them to use less energy. 

As the pandemic continues, more companies will focus on creating innovative technology to foster connections and improve our lives. And while it’s hard to predict exactly what the future is going to look like, we are certain that creativity is at the heart of this shared experience.

Debbie Adler leads the creative industries and digital media sector team in North America for the U.K.’s Department for International Trade. She supports bilateral economic development opportunities for businesses across content production, games, music, immersive, advertising and more.