The Canadian 2012 federal budget was presented today (Mar.29.12) and so a discussion about creativity and economic opportunities seems à propos. I’ll start with Amsterdam (Holland/The Netherlands) and THNK. Neal Ungerleider, in his March 27, 2012 article titled, The THNK Tank: Why Amsterdam Wants Your (Creative) Brains, for Fast Company notes,
Amsterdam is embarking on an ambitious experiment to attract foreign creatives: An invite-only, public/private-funded school and accelerator for international creative minds, leaders, and entrepreneurs. THNK: The Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership opened several weeks ago with an initial class of 30 drawn from across Europe, the United States, China, India, Israel, Mauritius, and South Africa. Classes and mentoring at THNK are held both in Amsterdam–in a home base inside a converted gasworks–and via telecommuting once participants return to their home countries.
For Amsterdam, THNK is a slick business development project that simultaneously doubles as soft diplomacy. The thinkers and doers who will be joining in THNK’s activities will be connected with local entrepreneurs, artists, and firms–whom the city is doubtlessly hoping will be back in the future.
The partnership behind this initiative includes the Dutch federal government, the province of Noord-Holland, Stadsregio Amsterdam (a regional conglomeration of 16 municipalities in what is dubbed as the ‘Amsterdam region’, The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, and I amsterdam.
These organizations certainly seem to be modeling leadership. Here’s more about their initiative, from the About THNK page,
Of course the world is changing. That’s what it’s done since time began. Evolution is natural. Sometimes it happens slowly. And sometimes it rocks the world like a fiery volcano, suddenly transforming entire landscapes.
Our world has reached that point now. Social inequality, our love/hate relationship with technology, dwindling resources, climate change, the collapse of financial institutions…
Organizations of all types, shapes and sizes are struggling with this new reality. Some are so involved in daily operations – and keeping their heads above water – they are blind to the future. Others recognize the challenges around them, but lack vision.
THNK believes the answer is passionate, visionary and creative leadership.
Creative leadership according to THNK means: public, social and business worlds coming together to create and realize new and innovative solutions to major issues of societal relevance that will have great meaning and impact – either nationally or internationally.
This isn’t just about generating ideas. It’s also about making it happen.
Although our focus is international, THNK is firmly rooted in Amsterdam. We’ve made the Westergasfabriek our home. This 19th-century former gas factory has been transformed into one of the city’s most exciting cultural centers, with old industrial buildings now housing trendsetting cafes, cinema, festivals and other events. Not to mention the surrounding city parks – with everything from hidden waterways to bike paths reaching from the countryside to the heart of Amsterdam.
Thanks to its highly diverse culture – with more than 175 nationalities – and an inventive and tolerant mentality, Amsterdam has grown into an important international hub for creative thought and industry. The city’s unique DNA of creativity, tolerance, diversity, collaboration and trade is reflected in THNK’s highly pragmatic and open culture.
It’s not surprising that such diverse influences have brought forth such creativity. Three of our local scientists have been awarded Nobel prizes. Fashion designers Viktor & Rolf have wowed the world. Droog designer Marcel Wanders has changed the way we look at interior design. Architects such as Ben van Berkel are reshaping our skylines.
Amsterdam’s unique DNA of creativity, tolerance, diversity, collaboration and trade will be reflected in THNK’s highly pragmatic and open culture. Reaching beyond its borders, Amsterdam serves as a major gateway into continental Europe. With two major seaports within a 50-kilometer radius, strong international railroad connections and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol close by, you’re always close to anywhere in Europe and the world.
They do invite applications (perhaps the invite-only applications were a feature for the first cohort). You can get more information here or go here to apply immediately. The 18-month program costs € 39,500 (approx. $52, 520 CAD) and there are periods when you are required to be in Amsterdam, so you may want to include some housing and travel costs as well.
Meanwhile in Vancouver (Canada), Simon Fraser University (SFU) is about to host BCreative 2012 from May 10 – 12, 2012. From the BCreactive 2012 conference/showcase About page,
… designed to bring together government, business, the creative sector, and researchers to stimulate thinking, policy, and action directed at developing a strategy and levering resources to further build the creative economy and to help British Columbia BC become a leader in the creative sector in the twenty-first century.
BCreative 2012 conference/showcase has four specific objectives:
- To make the case for the creative economy to have a commanding presence in government economic and cultural policy;
- To build bridges between the general business community and this new and dynamic business sector with distinctive infrastructure needs from which all British Columbians can benefit both socially and economically;
- To encourage information sharing among the creative sub-sectors and to sensitize the creative sector to the contribution of the creative economy to job creation and overall economic growth;
- To bring forward useful information, analysis, training, and research resources that can assist in building BC’s creative economy.
Speakers include the co-author of the two UN Creative Economy reports, Edna dos Santos-Duisenberg, creative cities theorist Charles Landry, Canada Council CEO Robert Sirman, representatives from creative cities: Berlin and Paris. Partners with Simon Fraser University in this enterprise include the BC Business Council and the Vancouver Board of Trade, with Tourism Vancouver helping behind the scenes.
There’s an early bird registration fee until March 31, 2012. You can find a copy of the schedule (presumably a draft) here. I hope the participants will develop ideas as fresh and innovative as THNK.
BTW, I notice that Amsterdam’s THNK mentions scientists while the BCreative conference does not whether that omission reflects organizational difficulties or a blindspot is a mystery.