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In its 10th year, the Texas-EU Business Summit is the premier event for Texas businesses, entrepreneurs and economic development professionals seeking to expand their footprint in Europe. The summit provides Texas businesses, entrepreneurs, policymakers and target businesses with an overview of trade and expansion business opportunities in Europe as well as information and connections to make the most of those opportunities.

10th Annual Texas EU Business Summit Preview

May 11, 2021

9:30am - 1:00 pm Central Daylight Time

Held via Zoom Webinar

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Virtual Texas-EU Business Summit Preview - Newsletter #2

Market Access: Q&A with Valerio Soldani


For its second Market Access Panel, the summit highlights three very different EU nations with compelling stories: Ireland, Italy, and Luxembourg. Each country will be represented on the panel by seasoned trade representatives. Pierre Franck is consul general and executive director of the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office. Mary McEvoy is Vice President of Technology, Consumer and Business Services for IDA Ireland. Valerio Soldani is Head of Start Up and FDI for the Italian Trade Agency in New York.

We sat down, virtually speaking, for a Q&A with Valerio Soldani regarding Italy’s role in the panel.

Q: Tell us a little bit about the comparative advantages and opportunities that set Italy apart from the EU as a whole.

Italy is a key gateway to the EU market: the 3rd largest economy of the EU and 9th in the world. Italy is the 5th largest EU trading partner of the United States. Its strengths include strong manufacturing clusters (2nd in Europe), fast moving consumer goods, fashion and food & beverages. Italy has also been spotlighted for investment opportunities in a thriving technology environment, supported by its large number of universities, strong academic research, best in the EU patent growth rate, and a structured system of incentives to boost foreign investments.

Q. What is Italy looking for in its trade relations with Texas and the US?

Texas is a top priority US state in ITA's promotional and investment attraction strategy. Thriving ITC, aerospace, and energy industry verticals could find perfect partners in Italian companies. ITA has an office in Houston (along with 4 other US offices) as a single stop shop in navigating opportunities, incentives, costs and business potential. The US is Italy’s most important extra-EU market in terms of exports and direct business presence.

Q. How do events like the summit benefit participants, whether they’re national trade promotion agencies, trade groups, or business owners/entrepreneurs?

Events like the summit are powerful platforms to share business opportunities for trade promotion agencies and build a wider network of professional contacts in key states like Texas to foster further collaboration and show how ITA helps US investors. Summits like this one are really helpful to foster and establish a high value professional network with potential business partners for our industrial and trade system.


Ben Ramirez, Vice President and Executive Director for the World Affairs Council of Austin

Networking that Works

The May virtual event provides participants a reminder of why the summit has always been an exciting opportunity for Texas businesses and entrepreneurs. A key component of previous summits has been networking, delivering participants not only information but also connections. Because the May event’s online format complicates traditional networking, summit organizers wanted a way to mitigate that.

“We know networking is one of the most popular aspects of the summit,” explains Ben Ramirez, Vice President and Executive Director for the World Affairs Council of Austin. “We hear that from participants every year. We knew networking needed to be a big part of this month’s event.”

Participants will receive a Summit Directory prior to the event. In addition to the agenda and speakers’ biographies, the directory offers useful information about each participant, including:

  • Participant's name
  • Title and organization
  • Website(s) and social media
  • Preferred forms of contact (email, website, LinkedIn)
  • Offering: the services, expertise, or products the participant offers
  • Asking: the services, expertise, or products the participant is seeking

“Not only is networking back, but it is also easier for attendees than ever before,” Ramirez says.

A Look at Digital Humanism

One of the most innovative panels for the May virtual summit examines The New Digital Humanism. Subtitled, “A European Perspective for tech companies on both sides of the Atlantic,” the session will be conducted by two experts in the field.

Digital humanism is an integrated approach to technology in business, society, and policy-making. It asserts that, as the defining technology on our era, digital technology must remain centered on human interests. Dr. Clara Blume, head of the Open Austria Art & Tech Lab, and Martin Rauchbauer, Austrian Tech Ambassador and Consul in San Francisco, will lead a discussion of what Digital Humanism means for the tech industry as well as the opportunities it creates.

Exploring deeper, Digital Humanism seeks to maximize the possibilities offered by the ubiquity of digital technology while also confronting the challenges it creates. As defined by the Digital Humanism Initiative, these challenges include the monopolization of the Web, the rise of extremism orchestrated by social media, the formation of filter bubbles, the loss of privacy, the spread of digital surveillance, automated decision making, and the potential loss of jobs due to automation.

Another key component of digital humanism is tech diplomacy. As major technology companies emerge as new non-state actors, their activities impact foreign policy. New technologies change the geopolitical landscape, impact basic human rights, and challenge cybersecurity. As policymakers struggle to keep pace with these changes, digital humanists consider themselves advocates and resources to support policymakers in their efforts.

From a commercial perspective, digital humanism creates opportunities for technology companies and entrepreneurs, rather than constraining them. This is especially true for small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as those not situated in the countries or clusters that dominate digital development.


Clara Blume, Ph.D.

Head of Open Austria Art & Tech Lab


Martin Rauchbauer

Austrian Tech Ambassador

Austrian Consul in San Francisco

Texas-European Union Quick Facts

Companies considering doing business in Europe for the first time should make attending the Texas-EU Business Summit a priority. The information below highlights some of the region’s many advantages.

  • The EU is a diverse market of 450 million people with a GDP of $15 trillion.
  • Texas exports to the European Union in 2018 were over $50 billion.
  • EU investment in Texas tops $275 billion.
  • Small and medium-sized business account for 39.9% of all Texas exports.
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Have further questions? Please contact the Texas EU Business Summit organizers at TXEUSummit@austin.utexas.edu

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