How Nantes Drives Innovation

Over just a few years, the fast-growing city on the French Atlantic coast has transformed itself. What used to be another French second-tier city is now a vibrant, booming destination full of energy. Elected European Green Capital 2013, Nantes is like a lively, open-air museum, a cultural hotspot full of history and an excellent choice for association events looking for something different, thanks to La Cité Nantes Events Center, Nantes Convention Bureau and their dynamic teams. Words Rémi Dévé

An article in the Sunday Times once called Nantes “the loopiest city in France” and that pretty much sums it all. The birthplace of Jules Verne is indeed equally innovative and bustling – the world-famous giant elephant which is regularly walking down the streets is the epitome of it and has become an icon, a true flagship for the city. In Nantes, the cultural and creative sectors are major growth drivers, part of a very diverse economy looking to a sustainable future.

But it’s not all play and no work: Nantes means business too. The economic prosperity of Nantes and the Pays de la Loire region comes indeed from the traditional industrial and maritime sectors, while several high-tech industries have seen the light of day over the last decade as well.

Nantes and its region also home to leading international companies such as Airbus, Armor, Eurofins, LU, STX Europe and Vivalis. The territory is also a centre of excellence for a large number of key industries such as digital economy, culture and creativity, mechanical industries, health and biotechnology, sustainable development. These industries are anchored around 14 European and international clusters such as Atlanpole Biotherapies (biotechnology/health) or Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique (marine and naval sector), which, together with the University of Nantes as the driving force, led the city to be chosen for the 6th Congress of the International Society for Applied Phycology (ISAP). The event took place at La Cité Nantes Events Center in June. With over 300 people working in its universities and research centres and more than 100 businesses, Western France is indeed a European hotspot for the transfer and industrial development of marine biotechnology.

La Cité Events Center in numbers

6,000 sqm of multi-purpose areas

3 auditoriums with 450, 800 and 2,000 seats

30 meeting rooms

Total capacity: 4,000 people

An adjacent 4-star hotel with 105 rooms

AIPC Quality standards Gold certification

The scope of the event was to appreciate the huge phycological biodiversity and the diversity of its biotechnological applications through the prism of a new and promising industrial sector in full development. The Congress included speakers and posters presentations, exhibitors and, for the first time, a BtoB session as well as an open conference specifically designed for the general public. With more than 560 participants, ISAP Nantes 2017 was the most successful Congress of the Society to date, with twice as many attendees compared to previous editions.

When asked about the reasons for this success, Pascal Jaouen, Co-Chairman of the Congress and Head of Laboratory GEPEA-CNRS, whose research activities relate to the processes of valorisation in the fields of food, environment, energy and the sea, says: Marine biotechnology, or the utilisation of marine bioresources as targets or sources of biotechnology applications, is a field with massive potential for innovation and economic growth. The western French regions of Pays de la Loire and Brittany are leaders in the field and it just made sense to hold the Congress in Nantes, especially since there are strong links between innovation and the industries based there. As ISAP aims to promote research, preservation of algal genotypes, and the dissemination of information concerning the utilisation of algae, we knew we would get all the knowledge we needed to build up a strong academic programme.

In Nantes, the congress centre (La Cité) and the University work closely togetherThere is a charter of partnership between us for the prospection of congresses of expertise such as ISAP. As soon as they detect the possibility for Nantes to host an event, they come to us. In the case of ISAP, it started as early as spring 2014 – they were, and actually are, very reactive. Nantes and its region are home to 70 research laboratories and there is always some kind of congress activity going on!” explains Jaouen. The city and the region in general and La Cité in particular were praised as highly professional when it comes to the hosting of congresses like ISAP. Nantes’ accommodation is first-class but at competitive rates, it’s within easy reach by air and less than two hours away from most European cities, La Cité Nantes Events Center is situated at the heart of the city, opposite the high-speed train station, and its staff was extremely helpful and friendly both in the preparation of the Congress as during the congress. Altogether, Nantes is a very attractive place, which many of our delegates thoroughly enjoyed.” Jaouen adds.

The fact that La Cité Nantes Events Center and the city of Nantes have been actively engaged in welcoming international associations since 2010 also helped, with a Charter for hosting events with a view to making life easier for event organisers. “The delegates felt really welcomed in Nantes. The ‘Charte d’Accueil Destination’ did wonders to promote the Congress all over the city” Jaouen concludes.

No wonder, then, that the Laboratory GEPEA-CNRS is going to organize four additional events at à La Cité Nantes Events Center in the upcoming two years, including S2small 2017 Nantes (an international conference on sustainable solutions for small water and wastewater treatment systems) in October, the ISBC 2018 symposium (about biosensors) in May, EFFOST 2018 (for the European Federation of Food Science and Technology) in November, and SFGP 2019 (Société Française de Génie des Procédés) in October.

More information: www.lacite-nantes.com / www.nantes-saintnazaire.fr

 

 

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