Inspired by a visit to Silicon Valley, two Dutch entrepreneurs named Marleen Stikker and Bas Verhart envisioned establishing Amsterdam as a similar hub for creativity and innovation.
In 2006, they launched PICNIC, an annual festival dedicated to inspiring creativity in cross media content and technology, with support from the Dutch government, the City of Amsterdam, corporate sponsors and cultural institutions.
The PICNIC Festival included a conference, specialty workshops, demos and an evening entertainment program. PICNIC attracted high profile speakers from media and technology, including:
- Sir Richard Branson, Chairman, Virgin Group
- Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist
- John de Mol, Co-founder of Endemol and the Reality TV guru behind “Big Brother”
- Philip Rosedale, Founder of Second Life
- Linda Stone, writer, speaker, consultant and former executive at Apple and Microsoft
- Michael B. Johnson, Moving Picture Lead at Pixar Animation Studios
- Biz Stone, Co-founder of Twitter
- Clay Shirky, author of “Here Comes Everybody” and expert on the effects of the Internet
- Niklas Zennstrom, Co-founder of Skype and Kazaa
The PICNIC Festival became the launching ground for several important initiatives which support entrepreneurs. In 2007, PICNIC collaborated with the Dutch Postcode Lottery to develop and launch the Green Challenge, a global competition which annually awards EUR 500,000 (US$660,000) and expert coaching to the best green product or service. That same year, PICNIC collaborated with the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce to launch the Marketplace, an exhibition which showcases Dutch and international creative start ups and small businesses. In 2008, PICNIC partnered with Vodafone to develop and launch Vodafone Mobile Clicks, an international contest which identifies and develops the most innovative mobile Internet start ups in Europe. In 2009, Microsoft unveiled its global WebsiteSpark program at PICNIC. The program gives Web development professionals the chance to get free software and technical support to help them successfully launch new businesses.
In 2009, PICNIC hosted its first event outside of Amsterdam. The PICNIC Salon New York brought together innovators and creative industry leaders from Amsterdam and New York to spark collaboration. The event was held as part of the festivities commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Dutch arrival in New York. Later in 2010, PICNIC hosted a mini-salon in Dortmund, Germany as part of the E-Culture Fair that year.
Since 2010, PICNIC has broadened its focus beyond cross media, repositioning itself as a festival dedicated to blurring the lines between creativity, science, technology and business in order to co-create the future. We have featured well-known and soon-to-be well-known speakers, including:
- Tom Hulme, Design Director, IDEO
- William McDonough, architect and co-developer of the “Cradle to Cradle’ design philosophy
- Dr. Saskia Sassen, Columbia University sociology professor specialising in globalization and international human migration
- Kunlé Adeyemi, architect, urbanist and creative researcher
- David Gallo, Director of Special Projects, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
- Jeff Jarvis, journalist and author of “What Would Google Do?”
- Charles Leadbeater, policy advisor to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, author of ‘We Think’
- Robin Chase, Founder and CEO of Buzzcar car sharing marketplace
- Oliver Medvedik, Co-founder of the Bioworks Institute laboratory for art and biology
- Adam Greenfield, Founder and Managing Director of urban-systems design practice Urbanscale
- Charles Landry, author of “The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators”
- Beth Coleman, Primary Investigator of the Pervasive Media/City as Platform research and design lab at MIT
- Benoit Jacob, Head of Design at BMW i
Under the leadership of Marleen Stikker and four other Board members, PICNIC is broadening its activities beyond its annual festival. In May 2012, PICNIC will host a new event called the Innovation Mash Up which focuses on how businesses in traditional sectors can successfully apply top innovation processes. We also recently launched the PICNIC Creative Business Club and will host events related to innovation, creativity and international trends in the Netherlands throughout the year. As always, PICNIC will continue the expansion of its international network and the launching of new co-creation initiatives.