Going Dutch with Oklahoma Nice

Resolute CEO Nicole Morgan recently attended Dutch Design Week with a newly formed grass-roots initiative, the Network of International Creative Entrepreneurs (NICE). The group held its inaugural international meeting in Eindhoven, Netherlands and included a select group of Oklahoma business owners, entrepreneurs, educators and creative thinkers. NICE gathered with the aim to form a bridge between Oklahoma and small-to-medium enterprises in Europe.

Hoping to spur creativity, advance technology and encourage entrepreneurship, attendees toured the Eindhoven University of Technology where students presented some of their most recent projects. Earlier in the month, students won the the world championship for practical solar-powered cars in Adelaide, Australia, and NICE attendees were invited to view the 5-person vehicle. Attendees also toured the newly renovated SX Sports Marketing Media building, a co-working complex for companies specializing in sports marketing and media. The historic 1914 building formerly housed the Philips glass factory and sat empty for decades before finding its new life through entrepreneurship, similar to Tulsa 36 Degrees North.

The meeting represented a collaboration between Creative Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team with support from Oklahoma State University, University of Tulsa, Tulsa Global Alliance and other private sector interests.

Creative Oklahoma sought and received designation for Oklahoma as an official District of Creativity from the International Districts of Creativity Network based in Flanders in 2007. The Districts of Creativity Network (DC Network) is comprised of 14 designated regions of which Oklahoma is the only North American member region. Relationships between Oklahoma and the Brabant region of the Netherlands, where Eindhoven is a major city, and Scotland have been developed over time through the DC Network membership. Representatives from Eindhoven and Scotland traveled to Oklahoma in 2010 and 2015 when Creative Oklahoma hosted the Creativity World Forum in Oklahoma City and organized statewide innovation study tours for the international group in 2015.

“Oklahoma is well known globally for its impact on the energy industry. We want to educate the world and Oklahoma that our state is also valuable for other resources,” said John Curzon, Chair of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team and NICE co- founder. “We are much more than a fly-over state, and we believe we can leverage our entrepreneurial ecosystem and our education programs in Oklahoma to work interchangeably with those in the Netherlands to help foster a sustainable relationship.”

The NICE delegation also attended Dutch Design Week, which is the largest design event in Northern Europe presenting more than 2,500 designers’ works and concepts as well as exhibitions, lectures, debates about the future of design. In addition, members continued on to the Creativity World Forum, Nov. 1-2 in Aarhus, Denmark. The two-day global conference brought together 2,000 top creative minds for lectures, presentations and networking opportunities.

“We were excited to broaden the network of Oklahomans participating in the Creativity World Forum and other events organized by our colleagues from Eindhoven. We have seen positive impact in Oklahoma with our participation in the DC Network the last 10 years with collaborative projects, international relationships, and positive public relations for Oklahoma as a creativity and innovation destination hub. We only expect those relationships and positive benefits for the state to grow through these meetings,” said Susan McCalmont, President of Creative Oklahoma.

“This collection of events designed to spur creativity and entrepreneurial growth presents a wonderful opportunity to bring together the global entrepreneurial, tech and education communities into one space,” Curzon said. “It is an honor to be able to participate in all of these events at once. We expect long-term relationships to develop which will have lasting economic benefit to the people of Oklahoma.”

From Oklahoma, more than a dozen entrepreneurial business leaders and educators were represented at the meeting and subsequent gatherings, including:

  • John Curzon – chair, OK Governor’s International Team & Partner, CCK Strategies; Tulsa
  • Susan McCalmont – president, Creative OK; OKC
  • Elliott Adams – author/speaker, “The Startup Mixtape”; OKC & San Francisco
  • Dirk Spiers – CEO, Spiers New Technologies & Creative OK board member; OKC
  • Pageant Ferriabough – CEO, Busine$$ Resource Unlimited & Creative OK board member; Tulsa
  • Emily Roberts – Assistant Professor, OSU; Stillwater
  • Alden Klefeker – CCK Strategies; Tulsa
  • Jane Kucko – Vice Provost for Global Education, University of Tulsa
  • Nicole Morgan – Resolute PR; Tulsa
  • Wade Bray – Oklahoma Fashion Initiative; Tulsa
  • Tommy Yi – StarSpace 46; OKC
  • James Beach – StarSpace 46, OK Sessions; OKC & Seattle
  • Ava Pipher – StarSpace 46; OKC
  • Gabriela Fonseca Pereira – Graduate Student, OSU; Stillwater
  • Aaron Bolzle – Independent Consultant; Tulsa

“Our goal for a successful outcome after this trip was to bring back applicable knowledge to be able to do business with like-minded entrepreneurs from one another’s countries,” Curzon said. “We wanted to bring home new ideas, industry insight and a network of resourceful, sustainable relationships for both short term and long term opportunities.”