Luleå has a unique partnership with the city of Austin, Texas. As the only municipality in Sweden, Luleå, along with Oslo, Norway and London, Great Britain has formed a partnership agreement with the City of Austin, USA. The partnership is all about learning from each other, building relationships and boosting innovations that develop both cities.
Austin found Luleå on the world map as a result of Facebook establishing a presence here. The fact that the social network giant chose Luleå as the site for its first data center outside of the United States made an impression on Austin. What had Luleå done to reach that position? When they looked closer, they saw several similarities between the two cities and made contact.
With 850,000 residents, Austin is the eleventh largest city in the United States. It is also one of the fastest growing cities and among those that have weathered the global financial crisis the best. Unemployment is at the low rate of 4 percent. The University of Texas is located in Austin, and is ranked as one of the world’s top universities. The business sector consists of small and medium enterprises.
Austin’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” and the city profiles itself as the live music capital of the world. Music is an important part of the city and on almost every street corner and in every pub, you can listen to music of different types all year round. The city’s major showcase event is the popular South by Southwest festival. The festival began in 1987 as a music festival, which today is the world’s largest, and now also includes film and interactive media events.
The primary difference between Luleå and Austin is the size of the cities. There are also many similarities. Both cities have a growing industrial sector and universities that work closely with companies and the community. The focus on music, technology and innovation are other similarities.
The collaboration between Luleå and Austin has taken concrete form and the first project was musical in nature. It was a collaboration between the House of Songs in Austin and Ice Music and BD Pop in Luleå. During a week’s visit musicians from Austin came and stayed with local musicians from the area and created music on instruments made of ice. The project was named City of Songs and attracted international attention. Later this year, a documentary about the City of Songs will be broadcast on one of the world’s largest TV channels.