Empowering Hydrogen Research in the Czech Republic

August 20, 2018

Empowering Hydrogen Research in the Czech Republic

The 7th International Conference on Hydrogen Technologies took place in Prague in mid-July 2017. But work to bring the conference to Prague started as early as in 2009, when the relatively newly established Czech Hydrogen Technology Platform (HYTEP) decided to bid for the event, with the support of  Prague Convention Bureau. At the time, Professor Dr. Ing. Karel Bouzek became the local ambassador of the conference, and received an award during the annual Ambassador Awards Evening organized by the Bureau.

“Winning the candidacy was quite a challenge but the preparation and organization to meet all the delegates’ expectations was actually much more demanding,” commented Professor Bouzek. “Work on the candidacy was coordinated with a help from the HYTEP for the scientific part and the C-IN PCO together with the Prague Convention Bureau for the organizational part. Hydrogen technologies were in their infancy at that time, and this type of conference had never taken place in Eastern Europe before.”

Long tradition

In reality, research on hydrogen technology has a long tradition in the Czech Republic. Already in the 1960s, the development of alkaline fuel cells had been conducted, even if work in the field was stopped afterwards. It’s only at the start of the new millennium that research began again.“It is worth pointing out that in the Czech Republic, as in the first country of the post-communist block, a bus powered by a hydrogen fuel cell was developed and operated, and a hydrogen filling station was installed, while other projects followed. And today there is an increasing interest both from a commercial and public point of view,” commented Professor Bouzek.

The organisation of the 7th International Conference on Hydrogen Technologies brought international recognition to Prague and the Czech Republic, as the destination hosted one of the world’s most important scientific conferences exclusively dedicated to the topic. In this regard, it helped share knowledge and best practices in the field.

When asked about how delegates perceived the conference Professor Bouzek said “The programme consisted of a number of parallel sesstions covering a wide range of topics. Plenary lectures delivered by prominent personalities from the field of hydrogen technologies were received positively, and a concurrent exhibition awoke great interest among participants and guests, who also enjoyed a great gala dinner in Hergetova cihelna. The surroundings overlooking the Old Town were magnificent. Personally, my biggest surprise came from Japanese participants, who came in great numbers. This says a lot about how much attention Japan puts into hydrogen technologies.”

In the future

Professor Bouzek has been involved in various conference bids for more than twenty years. In 1996, for the first time,he participated in the organization of the 4thEuropean Symposium on Electrochemical Engineering (ESSE). “It was undoubtedly an interesting experience. The evaluation of the documents and all the agenda were still on paper – nothing was done digitally back then! The fact that the conference eventually proved to be successful is evidenced by the fact that it returned to Prague in 2008 (8th ESEE) and then in 2017 (11th ESEE) again,” he says.

In the future, Professor Bouzek is eager to build on the success of the seventh edition of the International Conference on Hydrogen Technologies and apply for the organization of one of the forthcoming World Hydrogen Energy Convention (WHEC). In the meantime, he will continue to organize the now-traditional Hydrogen Days, which will take place for the ninth time in cooperation with the C-IN. “This is a smaller conference. However, we attach considerable importance to it, given the close links between the activities of CEE countries, like the Visegrad Group countries and Ukraine or Romania. The central position of Prague and the Czech Republic calls for building bridges between the West and the East of Europe,” concludes Professor Bouzek.

August 13, 2018

3 Questions to Claire Smith of Vancouver Convention Centre

On the occasion of the Sustainable Brands conference which took place in Vancouver last June, Boardroom sat with Claire Smith, Vice-President, Sales & Marketing at Vancouver Convention Centre. Chair of PCMA, Claire shared a lot of interesting insights on the way she has been working with associations.

Has the way you work with associations changed over the years?

It’s definitely changed since the world of associations has changed. As a venue, we work hand in hand with Tourism Vancouver in a very close partnership. They are the conduit to the broader Vancouver community, and, as far as we’re concerned, we’re looking at what happens within the walls of the convention centre. Together, we help an organization create a successful event in our city.

When we opened the West Building of the Convention Centre ten years ago we were stunned at the natural beauty you could experience from it.  From a sales and marketing perspective we were talking a lot about destination appeal and beauty, but my feeling was that ‘what should somebody care? What does that mean for the events that meet here?’. I felt we had to put our attention into what do those attributes mean for success. We started to look at outcomes and how  success is measured. If it is attendance, how can  we  help boost and build attendance, especially from Asia? We took our assets and tried to create relevance in those assets, thinking about how these could benefit associations.

Now we have really shifted to focus on the business relevance of a destination decision. To me, a conference is a business and it has to make business sense for it to be organized in a city. Every organization has different business metrics, and one of them could be growing that field of study in that part of the world: there could be a link to some research centre for instance, but at the same time every association is so specific that, in the end, what it is important is to know what success looks like to them, and how Vancouver can support and drive that success.

How do you identify those conferences that could be the most successful, should they be organized in Vancouver?

There are some that are natural alignment. If we take Sustainable Brands for example, that is a very clear, philosophical alignment as Vancouver is a sustainable pioneer.  There are ones where maybe there is a strong industry sector here and they are a catalyst and want to help. But there are also ones that may not feel naturally like a fit, and that’s where we have to have a different conversation (with a lot of questions and a lot of listening!) and dig deep to understand what success means to an organization and take the first step of collaboration.

An example that comes to my mind is a recent American meeting on neurology we hosted: Vancouver might not be an obvious leading city in that field but we had a strong and passionate school of medicine who   wanted to promote the importance of brain health. That Society worked with our university and local community organizations and hosted  a community outreach programme to help raise the profile of brain health to Vancouver.

In a way, the fact that Vancouver is not the centre of one thing and that we actually have many faces is an asset. Our first priorities are the ones that make natural sense, like any conference related to marine, port and trade for instance, but then we have to take a few steps further and ignite the business relevance of a conference that is not particularly obvious for Vancouver… when it makes sense of course.

How do you think that will evolve in the years to come?

As an industry, we are shifting and mirroring the shifts society is going through. Associations have to work very hard at showing their value. The exciting piece of it that their events have become an even more important platform for them and it is often their main source of revenue and their #1 activation of their mission. Associations are constantly evaluating how to stay relevant in a cluttered marketplace.

What we’re also seeing is blurred geographic boundaries: we see societies that might have been regional in scope that start poking outside their region; we see congresses that used to take place every three or four years take place every year or two years; we see subspecialty organizations being born… In this context, we need to be closely aligned and be able to help as they change, test and try. We have to be able to come up with solutions as how to be a better partner as a destination.

This interview was conducted by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé in June 2018 (editor@boardroom.global)

July 31, 2018

World Gastroenterology Congress Chooses Dubai

Dubai has been selected as the host city for World Gastroenterology Organisation’s biennial World Congress of Gastroenterology which is set to take place from 12-15 December 2021 (WCOG-2021) at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. The Congress will see participation of over 6,000 delegates from around the world, all gathered to share knowledge and best practice that will aid advancement of the health science of gastroenterology.

The extensive bidding journey included a successful presentation by Dr. Maryam Al Khatry, President of the Emirates Gastroenterology & Hepatology Society “EGHS” of the Emirates Medical Association, at the WGO General Assembly in Washington DC. She said: “Winning the right to host this important congress for the UAE is a major milestone for our country and the region as a whole. It marks the first time in history that the WGO has convened a major international congress in partnership with an Arab-based national society. By joining forces with the WGO,  our aim is to foster joint activities with a high caliber world leading organization and jointly create a progressive legacy for many years to come.”

This milestone win confirms the commitment of the UAE as a supporter of scientific innovation and the advancement of medical practice on an international scale and re-affirms Dubai’s position as a leading destination for meetings and conventions.

July 30, 2018

The Secretary General’s Voice
– The Power of Sharing

A member of Boardroom Advisory board, Mohamed Mezghani has been appointed Secretary General of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) in January. Boardroom has asked him to contribute a monthly column in which he explains all about the challenges of holding such a position. This is Mohamed’s sixth contribution, in which he reflects on the power of sharing

I am writing this end of July. For most of you, this time coincides with the traditional summer break, the so-called annual leave. But this is the case mainly for those located in the Northern Hemisphere. For the other half of the planet it is business as usual, not to say a peak period for their activities. I remember some years ago, our association activities used to have two peaks: one in spring (i.e. February-June) and one in autumn (September-November). With the globalisation of UITP, the activity is now equally distributed all over the year except may be around New Year’s. There are obviously some variations according to the region of the world but generally speaking the rhythm of meetings and events is constant around the year.

We can’t say anymore that we’ll use the summer period to take some distance from our daily work to think out of the box. We have to find time to do this while we do our business as usual. It is a challenge. How to think about new services, new segments of membership, the future of the association if you are stuck in day-to-day issues?

Interesting to see that this is actually one reason why our members join us: we help them escape from their daily problems so that they get inspired. Therefore, we have to apply to ourselves what we preach for. We must plan some moments of reflexion, we have to meet peers and confront our ideas with them, we have to discover what other sectors are doing. We must take time to know the destinations of our future events better and interact with potential suppliers. From this curiosity and interaction new ideas will be born. In other words, we must go out to be more creative in our associations.

But how exactly should we do this? By joining associations of associations, either on a regional or thematic level. By attending exhibitions and events targeting associations and event organisers. By participating in fam trips to get familiar with destinations. By contributing to web fora dealing with association matters. By reading specialised magazines like Boardroom.

But there is one important rule: if you want to benefit you must share and get involved. Passive participation is worthless. As far as I am concerned, I measure the success of my participation in such fora by the ideas I collect from others that I could potentially implement at UITP, by the quality of people I meet and I could learn from, and by the opportunities offered to me or my colleagues to contribute to events and share our experiences.

I can mention several examples: the methodology for evaluating bids for hosting events inspired by ICCA, the new approach to sponsorship learned from PCMA, the opportunity to chair the European Association Summit organised by VisitBrussels, the engagement as an Ambassador of the Dubai Association Centre, the participation in several meetings of the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE), the involvement in the United Networks of International Corporate Events Organizers (UNICEO) and more – not to forget the feedback I have been getting since I started writing this column…

The more you share, the more you learn, and the more you’ll be inspired to improve your association. Be open!

July 27, 2018

St John’s, Canada, to Host Large Aquaculture Conference

The World Aquaculture Society (WAS) recently signed an agreement to host the WAS North America Conference 2020 in partnership with the Aquaculture Association of Canada (AAC) and Newfoundland & Labrador Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA). The WAS Aquaculture Conference, the largest of its kind ever held in Canada, will take place August 30 – September 2, 2020 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.

The combined international conference and exposition is expected to draw over 2,000 attendees from more than 100 countries. St. John’s, the eastern-most point in North America, and one of Canada’s most vibrant coastal cities, has long been a centre of excellence in aquaculture, having pioneered ocean harvesting since the earliest explorers set foot on Newfoundland.

From highly-skilled engineers, veterinarians and researchers to marine biologists, scientists and farmers, the men and women who work in St. John’s aquaculture industry are world-class experts in their fields, so it’s only fitting the World Aquaculture Society would choose to meet where the experts are.

July 26, 2018

An Invitation to Switzerland

The Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau (SCIB) based in Brussels, organises its traditional workshop on 23 October at 6PM which will take place at Hof ter Musschen in Woluwé. Associations are invited to discover the many possibilities for meetings and events in Switzerland.

This year the original theme is: Act like a Coach to excel in your performances. Thanks to its varied landscapes and great climate, Switzerland undoubtedly offers an elaborate choice of infrastructures for meetings or conferences, but also a great variety of facilities for group activities in different disciplines. 10 Swiss partners will be present, as well as keynote speaker, Paul Van Den Bosch.

This evening is exclusively for professional organisers of meetings and is by invitation only. To obtain your own personal invitation, please contact myriam.winnepenninckx@switzerland.com.


July 24, 2018

Why Every Association Needs a Social Media Policy

Social media is one of the most effective tools that associations have to communicate directly with their communities; yet many organisations shy away from social media. This may be due to a lack of interest from leadership, limited resources or simply the perception of too much risk associated with social media, particularly for medical associations. Many of these factors can be addressed, at least in part, through the development of a social media policy.

A social media policy is an internal document with guidelines and rules for the use of social media by an organisation. It must be consistent with the organisation’s business strategy and its marketing plans. It can also be a powerful tool to get buy-in from management as it shows a duty of care that helps to build a business case for social media.

One of the most important things that a social media policy does is set expectations for everyone. It sets the rules for those who are assigned to communicate on behalf of the organisation and offers guidance to everyone else. It empowers teams and individuals to be confident that their actions on social media are aligned with the organisation.


A social media policy ideally involves the whole organisation and is often created and managed by the marketing team. It should be co-created by various departments including marketing, community management, customer service, human resources, legal and any others that seem relevant. Ultimately it must be approved at top level and should be reviewed regularly, especially when there are changes in laws, internal restructuring or changes in key personnel.

A social media policy does not have to be a complex document. Some of the clearest policies simply ask that employees use their best judgement, but most policies go into more detail. An overview of the social media strategy, an up-to-date marketing plan including brand guidelines and how it links to the overall business strategy is a great place to start.

The social media policy should include details on how each social media platform is set up, who has access and who is responsible for posting and monitoring on behalf of the organisation. It should also clarify how others are expected to use social media at work and outline how employees or members should refer to their relationship with the organisation on their personal profiles. Many organisations ask staff to make clear on their social media profiles that the views are their own and may not represent those of the organisation.

In the event of a crisis

A social media policy must address data protection and security, copyright regulations and give direction on how to manage external content. There should also be a social media crisis plan with guidelines on how to deal with offensive or discriminatory content and a link to the full crisis plan for the organisation. Additionally, the policy must make clear any disciplinary actions to be taken in case of breach of the policy.

When something goes wrong on social media, such as a post which is considered offensive or inappropriate it almost always needs immediate attention, yet it may not be considered a full crisis. In this situation it is important that everyone acts according to the organisation’s social media policy because how it is dealt with reflects on the whole organisation.

The first step is to acknowledge the issue, understand the reasons why it happened and, if appropriate, remove the post. Direct communication with those involved, in private if possible, is crucial. Depending on the nature of the issue, there may also be a need to communicate externally. Once the issue has been dealt with, assess whether it went against the existing social media policy, and if disciplinary action is needed. The final step is to update the policy so as to help prevent future issues.

Golden rule

A social media policy only becomes real when it is actively integrated into the day-to-day actions of the team. Not everyone will require training, but everyone should at least be aware of the social media policy. Those who deal directly with social media, even if only through their personal social media accounts, should review the policy.

If an organisation is not active on social media it should articulate the strategic reasons for this in a simple version of a social media policy and review it periodically. It’s important to acknowledge that, even if there are no official accounts, employees or members may be active on social media and can be perceived as speaking on behalf of the organisation. There may also be social media activity around an organisation or an event, even if the organisation itself is not directly involved.

Creating a social media policy is simply a way to officialise an organisation’s stance on social media and set the expectations for everyone. There are limits to what can be asked of employees and members. While the most risk averse organisations may want to push for tight controls over all social media this is often counterproductive as it can cause friction with staff and members. An approach that offers guidance and support to everyone on social media is often a better option.

“Don’t share anything online that you would not like to see on the cover of a newspaper”,that is a golden rule of social media. Following this will keep almost all organisations out of trouble and able to take advantage of social media great potential for direct communication and engagement.

This article was contributed by Miguel Neves, founder of Social Media Chefs, a digital engagement consultancy that uses the language of food to help organisations develop their social media strategy / miguel@socialmediachefs.com


July 19, 2018

Bruges Knows About Lace

From 13 August until 25 August Bruges will bring the magic of lace to life during the World Lace Congress. Thousands of lace enthusiasts and experts from all over the world will participate in a versatile and interesting programme. Bruges and lace have always been inextricably linked, which is one of the reasons why the city is the perfect location for the congress.

Themed ‘Living Lace’, the congress will primarily focus on contemporary lace. Workshops are to be held from 13 until 16 August. The congress itself will take place in three unique locations from 17 until 19 August: the Gothic St Giles Church, the Bogardenkapel which will be transformed into a ‘Lace Chapel’ by students of the Stedelijke Academie, the art school, and the City Archives in the centre of Bruges which will show the economic dimension of lace in previous centuries. Additionally, there will be lectures by five lace experts in the Old St. John congress centre.

Afterwards, from 20 until 25 August, a lace tour that stops in ten different Belgian cities will be organised. Local museums and lace artists will host their own lace exhibitions.

(Picture: Oud Sint-Jan, Brugges)

July 18, 2018

Knowledge Sharing at EuroHeartCare 2017

The EuroHeartCare conference is one of the most important platforms for driving research publications, exchanging ideas, and forming and deepening collaborations within the field of cardiovascular nursing in Europe. It aims to support healthcare professionals in delivering the best care possible to patients with cardiovascular disease. The 2017 edition was hosted by Jönköping University in Sweden.

Our partner The Iceberg studied how professional expertise was transferred amongst the delegates and from them to the organisations they represented with the result of individual competence enhancement and potential improvements for both the organisations and their operational outcomes.

You can read the full story here.

July 18, 2018

Artificial Intelligence Gets Pride of Place in Stockholm

Stockholm will host the Federated AI Meeting (FAIM), the world’s largest scientific event on artificial intelligence, this very July. It will actually be a gathering of five world leading scientific AI conferences all under one roof – and for the first time. FAIM will take place at Stockholmsmässan. More than 5,000 international experts, scientists and engineers in the artificial intelligence field are expected to attend.

For almost 50 years, the world’s foremost scientific conference on artificial intelligence, International Joint Conference of Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), has been held annually in various cities around the world. When the Swedish AI Society, with support from Visit Stockholm, was granted to host the conference for a second time, a plan was set in motion to create a larger event week with several of the leading scientific conferences in the field gathering in Stockholm. The result was the Federated AI Meeting – the world’s largest event on AI.

Fredrik Heintz, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Linköping University and President of the Swedish AI Society commented: “It is unique to be able to bring together so many of the world’s leading AI researchers in one place to present the latest scientific advances. The fact that we can make this happen in Sweden shows that we are well respected in the scientific community, and offers a fantastic opportunity to present ourselves to the world.”