Chiang Mai to twin with Austin, Texas

 | Thu 23 Nov 2023 23:17 ICT

We were given this report of a recent visit to the United States.

Visiting with Thai Community in Greater Austin Area

Our visit to the Thai Community in the Greater Austin Area was a very special experience. We went to Wat Pa Nana Chat and met 80 Thai people along with 30 friends of the Thai community. The event was a mix of culture and tradition, with a peaceful Buddhist monk prayer, exciting Thai dance performances, lovely Thai music, and a delicious Thai lunch.

What made this visit even more exciting was the news that Austin and Chiang Mai had become sister cities. The Thai community in Austin was really happy about this and wanted to build strong connections between the two cities. They were also very supportive and welcoming to Thai people who plan to move to Austin, which is important for anyone looking for a Thai community to be a part of.

This experience showed us the power of community and cultural exchanges, making people from different places feel comfortable and connected. It was a day filled with culture and friendship, strengthening the bond between our two cities.

Visiting with City Council of Austin

Our meeting with the City Council of Austin provided valuable insights into the dynamic growth and challenges faced by this vibrant city, which is divided into 10 districts, each representing distinct areas, populations, and activities. Austin is experiencing rapid expansion, with approximately 100 families moving into the city every day. This influx can be attributed to the presence of high-tech jobs and a lower cost of living compared to California.

However, this growth has also presented several challenges, particularly in the realm of transportation. Increased traffic has led to pollution concerns, prompting discussions about addressing these issues through innovative technologies like autonomous self-driving cars and improved parking solutions. Additionally, Austin has set an ambitious goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2035, making it one of the most environmentally progressive cities in the United States. This involves managing green spaces, enhancing parks, and transitioning to sustainable energy sources.

One notable challenge discussed during our meeting was the “silo effect” within the city government, where different departments operated somewhat independently. To overcome this, Austin has established a new function aimed at fostering collaboration across internal departments. This collaborative approach is crucial to achieving sustainability and economic development goals while addressing the multifaceted challenges that come with Austin’s rapid growth.

Visiting with IC2 ATI of University of Texas at Austin

Our visit to the IC2 ATI (Innovation, Creativity, Capital) of the University of Texas at Austin introduced us to the rich history of innovation and entrepreneurship that has thrived within the university community. Founded in 1977 by Professor George Kozmetsky, IC2 has been a focal point of innovation and creativity, serving as an incubator for startups originating from students and researchers at UT Austin. With the support of approximately 200 dedicated volunteer mentors, young entrepreneurs find valuable guidance and resources to help bring their ideas to life.

Before the emergence of IC2 and related initiatives, Austin was primarily known as a college town. While there were companies in and around the city, they lacked a strong connection with the university for collaborative endeavors. However, this changed with the establishment of MCC (Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation) in 1982, a research consortium formed in response to the growing Japanese dominance in microelectronics manufacturing.

Subsequently, SEMATECH (short for Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology), a not-for-profit consortium, emerged and brought together top researchers from leading universities across the United States. These researchers collaborated in Austin for two-year terms, but what began as a temporary arrangement transformed the city. Researchers grew so fond of Austin that many chose to stay, either by opening their companies or research centers, thus solidifying Austin as a hub for high technology work.

In response to this transformation, the University of Texas at Austin began offering courses and programs directly aligned with the emerging high-tech industry, further contributing to Austin’s reputation as a center of innovation and technological advancement.

Visiting with Capital Factory with Asian American Chamber of Commerce

Our visit to Capital Factory, in collaboration with the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, offered us a glimpse into the heart of Austin’s entrepreneurial spirit. Capital Factory is a renowned startup incubator and co-working space situated in Austin, Texas, which has emerged as a pivotal center for innovation and technology. Founded in 2009 by Joshua Baer, Capital Factory has played a pivotal role in nurturing and propelling the growth of the startup ecosystem not only in Austin but also across the state of Texas.

What sets Capital Factory apart is its dedication to fostering innovation in various sectors. In addition to its standard startup support, it has expanded its reach into the realm of defense innovation. It operates a “Center of Defense Innovation” and collaborates closely with the US Army Future Command to scout for emerging technologies that can contribute to military objectives, with a focus on non-weapon technologies.

One notable program offered by Capital Factory is the dual-use program, which allows startups to develop technologies that can serve both commercial and military purposes. This program presents a unique opportunity for startups to have a broader impact and reach.

During our visit, the Chiang Mai delegation had the privilege of meeting with Capital Factory’s mentors. This interaction provided an excellent platform for knowledge exchange, networking, and the exploration of potential collaborative ventures. Capital Factory’s commitment to innovation and its multifaceted approach to supporting startups make it a vital institution in the entrepreneurial landscape of Austin and beyond.

Visiting with SXSW Organizer

Our meeting with the organizers of SXSW (South by Southwest) shed light on one of Austin’s most iconic annual events. SXSW is a multifaceted gathering that takes place in Austin, Texas, encompassing a wide spectrum of festivals and conferences, including music, film, interactive technology, and various other forums. It is renowned as one of the world’s premier and most diverse celebrations of creativity and innovation.

Originating as a music festival, SXSW has continually expanded its horizons to incorporate film and interactive technology. In the upcoming year, the focus is set to shift towards the exciting realm of

artificial intelligence (AI). Our discussion was facilitated by Mr. Hugh Forrest, the program director of SXSW, and Niel, the Global Sales Director.

SXSW thrives as a platform that celebrates creativity in all its forms, providing an invaluable opportunity to discover emerging talents and groundbreaking ideas. It serves as a unique breeding ground for collaboration, business partnerships, and deal signings, particularly in the fields of music, film, and technology.

Our delegation from Chiang Mai found this meeting particularly inspiring, prompting us to consider the potential benefits of Thailand and Chiang Mai’s participation in SXSW. Beyond simply attending the event, participants have the option to secure booths in the Expo area. Additionally, many countries and prominent brands opt to rent entire houses in the vicinity, where they can create their own distinctive experiences for visitors.

During our interaction, we also shared insights about Chiang Mai’s CNXP (Chiang Mai Experience) festival, which was inspired by the spirit of SXSW. We hope to establish a learning partnership and seek mentorship from the SXSW organizers, leveraging their vast experience and knowledge to further enrich our own creative and innovative endeavors in Chiang Mai.

Visiting with Q-Branch & Tech Ranch Austin

Our visit to Q-Branch and Tech Ranch Austin provided valuable insights into two prominent organizations dedicated to nurturing startups and international businesses.

Q-Branch ( is a startup accelerator founded in 2022 by CEO Marco, a former member of the US military. Q-Branch specializes in assisting international businesses and startups in their expansion efforts. They have collaborated with the Economic Ministry of Basque Country in Spain and JETRO of Japan to launch acceleration programs aimed at helping hundreds of startups target the US market and secure funding. Q-Branch’s approach involves establishing a strong strategic foundation for startups before they embark on their execution phase. This focus on strategy ensures that startups are well-prepared for success.

Tech Ranch Austin, on the other hand, is a global startup program with a mission to incubate and train startups from more than 40 countries. Their diverse and inclusive approach makes it a hub for entrepreneurs from around the world to access valuable resources and expertise. Both Q-Branch and Tech Ranch Austin offer promising opportunities for Thai startups and corporations looking to enter the US market.

These organizations can provide essential guidance, mentorship, and resources to help Thai startups navigate the complexities of the US market and achieve their growth objectives. Their collaborative programs offer a wealth of knowledge and support for businesses seeking international expansion.

Visiting Electrify Expo at Circuit of the America (COTA)

Electrify Expo ( stands as North America’s largest exhibition dedicated to electric mobility, showcasing a wide array of electric vehicles (EVs), bikes, and accessories. This comprehensive expo hosts eight events throughout the year, starting in cities like Orlando, Phoenix, Long Beach, Denver, San Francisco, New York, and culminating in Austin. These events serve as a platform to display various vehicle brands and offer attendees the unique opportunity to test drive EVs.

The Austin event, in particular, takes place at The Circuit of the Americas (COTA), known for its F-1 racing track, creating an exciting and dynamic backdrop for the expo. Some of the notable EV brands that

participate include Tesla, Toyota, Porsche, Volvo, Polestar, Vinfast, BMW, LiveWire, along with numerous E-bike brands.

What makes Electrify Expo even more intriguing is its inclusion of innovative startups specializing in the modification of classic cars into fully electric vehicles. This blend of established EV brands and forward-thinking startups makes Electrify Expo a compelling destination for anyone interested in the burgeoning electric mobility industry. It’s a unique opportunity to explore, experience, and learn about the latest advancements in electric transportation while also test-driving the vehicles on display.

The Austin delegation met with the Chiang Mai Festival delegation this week, following the letter’s trip to visit Edinburgh Festival in August. The two groups will work together to find ways for Chiang Mai to grow and develop on an international stage.