Scottish startups and founders are being encouraged to apply to visit the US in March for a world-renowned tech conference.

Fourteen tech leaders will be able to join a Foras-funded trip to the renowned South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, from March 6 to 14.

The event, where Twitter was first publicly unveiled in 2007, is one of the premier tech events in the global calendar and showcases emerging tech, trends and entrepreneurship. 

Austin itself supports a vibrant tech ecosystem with over 3,380 fast-growing companies and a total combined enterprise value of $115.3B in 2022.

The city’s ecosystem continues to grow on a sharp upwards trajectory despite global economic volatility.

The Foras programme was designed by 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 five international trips, including Silicon Valley, Helsinki, New York, and Lisbon.

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, said: “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