Herald Tribune Business Weekly
Sarasota looks for international luster from day of lectures
By Justine Griffin
Published: Monday, October 27, 2014 at 1:00 a.m.
When people leave Florida Studio Theater on Nov. 6, Anand Pallegar wants them to feel energized and to be brimming with new ideas. That is the whole premise behind the inaugural PINC.Sarasota event, which in less than two weeks will take over the theater in downtown Sarasota for a whole day.
PINC, which stands for People, Ideas, Nature and Creativity, will bring 16 international storytellers from a wide variety of backgrounds to Sarasota for the first time.
“It’s an interactive experience about sharing and building ideas,” said Pallegar, founder of Sarasota-based atLarge Inc., a service innovation company.
Pallegar worked with Olivier Van Lindonk and his wife, Karen Fay, to bring the event from Europe to the United States.
Local tourism, community and education boosters see the appeal of the event and hope it draws creative minds to Southwest Florida. They compare it with the better-known TED Talks ó creative and unique discussions around the world that began in California.
“It’s like TED Talks on steroids,” said Mark Pritchett, senior vice president with Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “One of our priorities in our grant-making initiatives is building an innovation economy in the Sarasota region. “When Anand came to us for help, it made sense for us to be a sponsor.”
Like the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, The Ringling College of Art and Design and Visit Sarasota also are PINC.Sarasota sponsoring the inaugural event.
“The event has a solid reputation internationally, and the ability to bring something so forward-thinking to Sarasota seemed like a perfect fit for us,” said Erin Duggan, director of brand with Visit Sarasota, the county’s tourism agency.
“This is giving us the ability to market the destination and offer visitor information to those who are considering attending and the many internationally based speakers,” Duggan said. “Word of mouth is a powerful tool for us. If internationally known speakers enjoy their time here and talk positively about their experience, it will have a positive impact on tourism here.”
A Dutch beginning
The creative confab has nearly doubled in size since it began in The Netherlands 15 years ago. The Sarasota conference will run as a sister event to the original, which continues to be held annual in the Dutch town of Zeist.
The public is invited to attend and hear 20-minute talks by the 16 speakers. The list of speakers attending the event have yet to be announced.Lunch and dinner are included with PINC admission. The dinner will be at The Francis, next to Louie’s Modern in downtown Sarasota.
Dickson Despommier, founder of the Vertical Farming Project and a professor at Columbia University, is among the speakers coming to Sarasota for the first time.
Despommier, who is among the early pioneers of vertical, or indoor, farming, has lectured at TED Talks and the Netherlands PINC event.
“PINC is far more personal than TED Talks. I was invited because I was teaching people about something they’d never heard of before. That’s what this is all about,” he said. Topics discussed will include oceanography, orthopaedic surgery and business innovation in addition to vertical farming.
“Hosting a conference like PINC really shows what’s so magnificent about Sarasota,” Ringling College president Larry Thompson said. “We live on the creative coast, where the arts and culture organizations are top notch and there are a lot of creative endeavors going on around us.”
“I am really hopeful that PINC.Sarasota finds a home permanently in Sarasota, so we can continue to take these creative and innovative approaches and help apply them to all kinds of businesses in the area, not just the arts,” Thompson said.
“This event belongs here.”