Foras to take Scottish startups on Texas tech trip

Left to Right: Nick Murray. Carolina Melendez, and Dec McLaughlin of Foras

FORAS, a startup community group facilitating international entrepreneurial experiences, has announced a new trip to showcase innovative Scotland-based businesses in the US. The group has opened applications for a funded cohort programme to Austin, Texas in March 2024 to coincide with the renowned South by Southwest (SXSW) conference.

Building on the success of previous excursions to Silicon Valley, Helsinki, New York, and Lisbon, Foras will lead 14 Scotland-based startup leaders for a week-long programme that promises inspiration, education, and valuable connections within the global entrepreneurship scene.

Austin, with over 3,380 fast-growing companies and a total combined enterprise value of $115.3B in 2022, has emerged as one of the most resilient tech hubs globally. Despite economic volatility, the city’s ecosystem value continues to grow, making it an ideal destination for Scotland-based businesses exploring US market entry, international partnerships, and fundraising from global investors.

The SXSW Conference is the city’s annual event, celebrating emerging technology, industry tech trends and entrepreneurship as well as design, film, music, and interactive media. 

The Foras SXSW 2024 Programme will run between the 6th and 14th March 2024, and was designed by Foras co-founders Dec McLaughlin, Nick Murray and Carolina Melendez, well-known for their work in local tech startups and business support organisations in Scotland. Since April 2022, the group has supported 96 startup leaders and ecosystem builders across 5 international trips.

Carolina Melendez, Foras Co-Founder said: “The Foras model is designed to provide participants with facilitated introductions, business visits, hands-on workshops, and investor-facing opportunities. It’s also about developing lasting peer relationships within our cohort, exposing them to world-class business education and encouraging a global mindset for the potential that Scotland-based businesses have internationally.” 

Wes Beard, CEO at Konversable and previous Foras cohort member commented: “I cannot emphasise enough how much value this programme added to me personally and to our business. The best practice and networking shared with various members of the cohort was second to none, and I have taken lessons away with me that will be used in both a personal and professional context for years to come.”

The programme is among the 42 projects supported by the Ecosystem Fund, a £1.6M initiative launched by the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise earlier this year to assist entrepreneurs in kickstarting and growing their businesses.

Mark Logan, the Scottish Government’s Chief Entrepreneur, said: “The Ecosystem Fund recognises and supports the vital enabling work of our ecosystem-building organisations.  These projects will accelerate Scotland’s journey towards being an internationally recognised startup nation.” 

In addition to support from the Scottish Government, Scottish Development International, and the UK Government’s Department of International Trade, Foras is welcoming corporate sponsors whose values align with the vision of the project and support the growth of businesses in Scotland.

Applications are open until January 8, 2024, welcoming founders, directors, or C-suite leaders in Scotland-based startups or scaleups from any industry with high-growth potential.

Applications for the Foras SXSW 2024 Programme are now open via

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