What to Expect at the Associations World Congress

February 14, 2019

What to Expect at the Associations World Congress

It’s not long now until the Associations World Congress which takes place from 7 – 9 April 2019 in Gothenburg, Sweden. There’s been a lot of development for this year’s event and the organisers, starting with a newly designed programme. With over four hundred delegates, the Associations World Congress is one of the largest as well as the most established conference for association executives.

The new and progressive programme includes an extension of the popular Association Leaders’ Forum from a half-day to it being integrated into the congress as a two-day Forum.  Greg Tracz, Chief Development Officerat the International Hydropower Association says: “The Association Leader’s Forum is a must-go-to event with world-class speakers, stimulating topics for discussion, and lots of lively debate.” And it’s because of this and many more positive comments, that Damian Hutt, Executive Director at AAE decided to broaden the Leaders’ Forum over the two days.

Additionally, AAE has created a new forum specially for event strategists.  The Association Events Strategy Forum is also integrated into the congress programme. During the Forum you’ll hear thought-provoking opinions on the purpose of events, their value, and the place of association events in the association’s offering and contribute to the discussion and ideas.

Excitement is also building around the keynote speakers. Sweden and indeed Gothenburg, are home to two world-renowned organisations who are delighted to take part in the congress:  The Nobel Organisation with their head Laura Sprechmann; and Volvo with their Senior Vice President Paul Welander.  There are more than fifty speakers from associations and specialist organisations, and this year, they’re not simply presenting…. There are many different formats including the new ‘Crash Course’ and ‘Camp Fire’.  AAE has created an environment that stimulates interaction and learning.  The new programme enables delegates to move to different sessions – essential, as many association executives are responsible for multiple functions.

Another new initiative is that AAE are issuing Certificates of Education in Association Management for verified attendees for up to 12 hours education.  This came about after receiving feedback from AAE members who wanted formal recognition and record of the time they spend learning at AAE seminars, conferences, masterclasses and congresses.

In conclusion, it’s going to be a busy time at this years’ congress …the two-day Forums, Crash Courses, Camp Fires, Success Story case studies, Breakfast Brains, Expert Briefings, Workshops, and the Solution and Services Providers in the Expo!  Not to mention the social side, with two drinks receptions, two dinners, the International & European Association Awards Ceremony, Gothenburg and its amazing archipelago, and more…

Find out more at www.associationsworldcongress.com





February 8, 2019

Ottawa: Canada’s Test Track for AV Innovation

Ottawa isn’t afraid to take trials out of the lab and on to a real-life test ground. Canada’s capital became the country’s first city to test on-street autonomous vehicles (AV) back in 2017, advancing testing on active public streets on a spin through Kanata North Technology Park. Imagine the look on the faces of people passing by when the driverless car came to a halt at a traffic light, allowing pedestrians to cross the street. The smart city is receiving the same reaction from industry leaders across the world as it showcases home-grown connected car and AV technologies, applications and services on the global market. 

Calling Ottawa Canada’s smartest city isn’t hyperbole. Located in the province of Ontario, with an international airport offering daily direct connections to over 30 major North American and European cities, Ottawa is the most technology-intensive region in Canada. The city boasts more PhDs per capita than anywhere else in Canada and excels in the areas of next generation networks and 5G, smart city initiatives, communications technology, and autonomous vehicles.

Ottawa is home to the top five mobile backhaul equipment market vendors (think Nokia and Ericsson), the top 10 optical network hardware vendors and 90% of telecommunications research, resources that have helped the city’s connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) cluster become a leader in sensors and LIDARS, key components of CAVs. Ottawa is a tech hub with decades of internationally-recognized strengths in fields that make up the core of CAV technology,” explains Sonya Shorey, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Invest Ottawa. “Ottawa’s CAV cluster, comprised of leading companies, post-secondary institutions, government and non-profits, established a vision early on, and committed to build the city’s capabilities, investment and global opportunity in CAV development, testing and validation.”

Innovation Centre

The AV testing on Ontario’s roads, led by the expertise of BlackBerry QNX (a leading developer of mission-critical software that serves as the foundation for connected and autonomous vehicles) and its Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre (AVIC), is one example of the development taking place in Canada’s AV capital—home to over 70 companies and other organizations working in the field. According toMichael Tremblay, President and CEO, Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards: “Our region has the expertise and capabilities required to develop, commercialize, and adopt new vehicle to everything (V2X) solutions. These technologies can be integrated into global supply chains and sold around the world. This new testbed adds critical capability to our ecosystem, enabling innovators to test and commercialize these AV technologies.”

To build on its reputation as Canada’s AV capital, Ottawa and BlackBerry QNX have teamed up with organizations like Invest Ottawa (the city’s economic development agency) and the Kanata North Business Association, in addition to researchers at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University and Algonquin College. The Kanata North Business Association, for example, represents over 500 ICT companies that contribute $13billion to Canada’s GDP in what is Canada’s largest technology park

Portland-based Allied Market Research predicts the global market for autonomous vehicles will be worth $54.23 billion in 2019 and increase to $556.67 billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of 39.47% during that period. “CAV is playing a key role in driving economic growth and in shifting the way in which we live and work around the world,” Shorey explains. Invest Ottawa has seen “keen interests from international firms in leveraging Ottawa’s CAV capabilities in V2X testing and our true four-season climate,” according to Shorey.

This article, whose full version is available in the February issue of Boardroom, was written by Lane Nieset. Your contact in Ottawa: mpalladino@ottawatourism.ca/ www.ottawatourism.ca

Picture: Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, during his tour of the BlackBerry QNX AVIC in Ottawa (copyright: BlackBerry QNX)








February 4, 2019

Relationship between Association Culture and Performance

To conclude her Executive Master in International Association Management at Solvay Brussels School, Boardroom Advisory Board Member Silke Schlinnertz wrote her final paper on the different ways of dealing with culture in the association world. Here are her findings.

Like cultures in general, organisational culture especially in associations is complex and unique. Culture is based on the individual history, leadership and team members. Hence, in order to improve performance and let an organisational culture have the appropriate effect on all parties involved, it is important to understand how organisational culture actually affects an association and its board members, leadership and employees alike. Understanding organisational culture is key to get the things done and not damaging any relations.

The rationale of the paper was to examine the different ways of dealing with culture in the association world, as well as to provide case studies for effective culture and performance management in views of various International federations / trade associations. By looking at how other associations are doing, the reader shall (hopefully) be shown samples of how to build a performing organisational culture for an association. An online survey and interviews revealed the following:

  • Culture and performance in associations is nuanced:
    It is important to create and understand each organisational culture as its own and define the link between performance and culture. There is no one fits all!
  • Associations are on a journey:
    Every individual needs to understand his/her role in shaping the association culture and as a result the increase in the chosen performance.
  • Accountability is the responsibility of the community:
    In associations, accountability cannot simply lie with individuals or solely with the secretariat (staff), it needs to be applicable to all stakeholders involved.

Outcome: Culture drives performance as long as performance is defined!

  • Create a strong yet flexible culture to deal with upcoming challenges
  • Learn how to cope with the dual problem of constantly adapting to the ever changing environment and needs while sharing a sense of responsibility, ownership and commitment with all parties involved.

Interested in reading the full paper, follow this link: http://bit.ly/EMIAM18-Silke

January 29, 2019

Livestock Scientists Flocked to Auckland

Auckland is growing in popularity as a destination for international conferences. One recent highlight was the 11th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production (WCGALP), which attracted more than 1,400 leading scientists and researchers at the Aotea Centre. Auckland Advocate Alliance member and Massey University Professor of Animal Science Hugh Blair was the local committee chair and integral to winning the conference.

Why did you want to bring WCGALP to New Zealand?

Since the time of Professor Al Rae, one of the founders of modern animal breeding, New Zealand and Massey have been considered world leaders in the implementation of genetics. The congress provided an exciting opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s strengths in using genetics to improve the production and health of animals and plants.

Additionally, international leaders in this field came to New Zealand to share their latest developments. There are benefits in terms of these experts meeting and presenting to a new generation of our young scientists. The conference saw the presentation of 873 papers, which included seven Massey University PhD students presenting their research results in front of this prestigious international audience.

Hosting the conference may yet yield more benefits, with visiting specialists collaborating with local experts on their research.

Why was Auckland a good host for this event?

Everyone was really excited when we won the conference. People were saying ‘We have always wanted to go to New Zealand and now we have a reason’. A lot of people stayed on to take holidays. In the post-conference survey 83% rated Auckland as very good or excellent.

Auckland is where the majority of international visitors fly in – we had attendees from 70 countries. Also, it has the venues with the capacity to host such a large event. We went with Aotea Centre, because it was a bit quirky, and it has lots of room for networking. Best of all, you can step right out onto Aotea Square. We wanted to have a BBQ to finish the event so we needed an outdoor venue. It was the most beautiful evening, it had such a nice feeling. There was a band and food stations and nearly 1,000 people dancing and enjoying themselves right in the middle of the city. It really showed our Kiwi hospitality. The opening social function at the waterfront Viaduct Events Centre, with New Zealand food and a Maori cultural experience, also really set the scene.

Auckland is also a great launch pad for the rest of the country, and was a hub for our field trip programme, allowing us to tap into local expertise.

Fast facts

  • Number of delegates and accompanying people – 1423, including 550 from Europe
  • Visitor origins – 70 countries
  • Number of presentations/papers – 873
  • Number of scientific field trips – 10
  • Economic contribution – $3,711,511

What was the most successful aspect of the event?

We sent delegates on 10 field trips to showcase New Zealand’s sheep, beef cattle, deer, equine, dairy sheep, aquaculture, forestry and kiwifruit industries. Every one of those trips had a bit of ‘tourism’ associated with it. The Hobbiton movie set is actually on a ram breeding farm, so we visited the farm, then had a fantastic dinner put on at the venue. The group who went to discuss kauri in Northland ended up visiting a marae; the aquaculture field trip to Waiheke Island incorporated a wine tasting at a vineyard; the Hamilton trip included a visit to Waitomo Caves. Everybody came back buzzing. They had a great time enjoying the country and got to see how New Zealand applies the science in the primary production sector. It enabled us to puff our chests out and say ‘we’re pretty good at this’ on the world stage.

How was the rest of the programme received?

The quality of the technical programme was rated 80% very good or excellent. AL Rae Centre’s Chief Scientist Dorian Garrick, and consultant Brian Wickham played a big part in arranging the knowledge programme. They are both very well known internationally and I have no doubt the success of the content was down to their expertise.

What support did you get in hosting the event?

When it was suggested I bid for the conference, I reached out to Auckland Convention Bureau. Their assistance eased the burden of bidding, including creating a compelling bid document and supporting us in making the right connections. Because the conference attracts more than 200 international delegates, it was eligible for Tourism New Zealand’s Conference Assistance Programme (CAP). This meant the preparation of the bid document was fully funded out of CAP, as was my airfare and accommodation to travel to Vancouver to deliver the bid, plus additional marketing support. That outlay was a huge help. Having the right people on our team was very important and that support was invaluable


January 18, 2019

What’s in Store at IMEX Association Day 2019

“I’m always looking for support with innovation and Association Day provides the perfect opportunity to get new ideas.” Danielle Michel, Director of Corporate Programme at the Airports Council International European Region in Belgium, who visited Association Day at IMEX in Frankfurt explains why it delivers a real business boost to association event planners around the world.

Three streams – tailor the day

Association Day takes place on Monday 20 May 2019, the day before IMEX in Frankfurt. This top class event is split into three streams – all aimed at senior association professionals and chaired by key organisations in the sector. Each stream has been re-branded as a ‘Lab’ to reflect the highly interactive programme that is being developed in conjunction with the association industry. The programme’s three different streams allow attendees to tailor the day to suit their individual requirements with each session expertly curated and designed to get to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of each topic using case studies and open discussions. The aim is – as always – for attendees to leave armed with new ideas to put into action.

The ASAE Leadership Lab stream will aim to help professionals build their people management skills – focusing on staff recruitment and retention, managing global teams and establishing effective board governance. The ICCA Imagination Lab sessions take a creative look at event planning and partnering, responding to the pressure many event professionals are under to deliver exciting, engaging – and profitable – events time and time again. The MCI Knowledge Lab will showcase strategies for building long term commercial partnerships as well as exploring the festivalisation of events and how planners can employ immersive tactics to create an experience that’s unforgettable yet still hits their objectives.

Latest innovations and trends

Association Day is part of EduMonday, an afternoon of immersive, inspiring and free professional development, which takes place the day before the show.  The 2019 edition of IMEX in Frankfurt, taking place 21- 23 May, will incorporate many of the content ideas and feedback received from attendees and exhibitors. Reflecting current trends within the events industry and the world at large, topics such as diversity and inclusion, collaboration and co-creation plus the circular economy will all be explored. There will also be a substantial focus on all things experiential with an entire hall dedicated to experiential and immersive activities and event ideas, giving attendees time and space to experiment on behalf of their clients, members or delegates.

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, explains: “The show evolves every year in response to attendee feedback. Each year we set new targets and new standards for our shows and for all our attendees, buyers and exhibitors alike, and this May in Frankfurt will be no different.  We know that this is what the industry needs – and expects – from an IMEX show. We’re especially pleased that as the show has grown we’ve been able to increase representation from both mature and emerging destinations; as well as being able to showcase growing market sectors in the industry such as technology. This is important as it allows association professionals to achieve a very productive week at the show – not only researching and selecting destinations and venues, but truly being able to meet every supplier they need to in order to develop an innovative and relevant event for their members.”

Association Day takes place on Monday 20 May, the day before IMEX in Frankfurt 2019. For more details and to register click here / IMEX in Frankfurt takes place at Messe Frankfurt from 21 -23 May 2019. Registration is free. www.imex-frankfurt.com

January 11, 2019

Trade Associations’ Internal Advocacy Challenges

In recent years, global and international trade associations have transformed into effective advocacy and lobbying tools. Internal advocacy toward membership is often neglected—but it’s one of the most crucial factors to consider.

The last decade has seen a drastic shift in terms of management and the repositioning of trade associations toward stakeholders and members. External advocacy and lobbying have become more of the core focus for trade associations, but there’s another aspect that’s just as important: internal lobbying toward members.

Trade associations today are comprised of a diverse membership, from stock market-listed, globally operating companies to smaller SMEs and regional or national associations. Structures within companies do often differ, but it’s important that associations coordinate on different priorities and structures when it comes to crucial policy development.

Increasingly challenging

In an increasingly challenging political environment, policy statements often have an immediate and direct impact on entire industry sectors—especially in terms of trade dispute and development. Member companies need information for planning security and to adjust internal human and financial resources. Therefore, concise internal communication and advocacy toward the membership—as well as quick information on policy discussions—are crucial if associations want to stay ahead of development and offer quick responses.

Trade association management often believes their membership is aware of day-to-day operations and challenges, but this is a general misconception. Due to time constraints, members may lack detailed understanding of internal association structures. Trade association secretariats often fail to communicate or place their work in an economic or political context, especially when it comes to complex technical and regulatory achievements.

Legislative proposals that could have a direct impact on an industry—or would result in higher costs for entire sectors—are sometimes not highlighted enough. In the long run, actions that result in the prevention (or partial prevention) of any extra burden for companies creates high-cost savings for the industry. This is even more important in budget discussions, which are often seen as cost centres. The value of association work is most easily expressed in numerical fashion, and avoiding costs creates indirect value, providing association board members with the right tools to express the trade association’s value during company budget planning processes and discussions.

More internal

The question now becomes “how?”How can associations focus more on internal lobbying? In addition to membership publications and newsletters, general assemblies, board and committee meetings are the most common forums of communication to open discussion on challenges and achievements. However, these traditional tools also have their limitations. Restricted, online member networks that limit access to information and internal libraries (but allow for secretariats and members to edit position papers) are helping speed up coordination processes and enhance transparency. In my experience, policy makers who offer quick, unified and internally coordinated responses are what stakeholders and members value most.

In our association, the European Flavour industry association, which consists of global companies and smaller SMEs, we wanted to increase our visibility to stakeholders, so we needed to rethink our collaboration strategies. We did this, for instance, through joint internal publications or external information letters. Quotes and statements from our stakeholders which we published in our newsletters were, in this context, a visible sign of endorsement. Our general assemblies were also a great opportunity to invite stakeholders and partners of the industry to exchange further and to identify possible future fields of collaboration.

Basic standard office software allows today’s associations to work in a collaborative manner on joint documents and statements. This allows for faster, coordinated input on public consultations of institutions, while also increasing their profile and visibility toward related partner trade associations—especially in the b2b realm. By increasing dissemination of information through social internal and external networks (such as restricted LinkedIn groups), members and external stakeholders will be directly involved—and kept informed.

For companies engaged in trade associations, increased internal information and enhanced collaboration offer a clear benefit: first-hand information from in-house policy experts familiar with all aspects of the business. By bringing external lobbying efforts in line with internal advocacy, associations can ensure long-term success and continue propelling position industry interests forward.

This article was contributed by Brussels-based Alexander Mohr, PhD, Executive Director of the European Flavour industry association, EFFA. He writes in his own capacity.


January 4, 2019

The Power of the BestCities Alliance in Bogotá

In December, BestCities Alliance participants gathered in Bogotá, Colombia – the only Latin American city in the Alliance – for the annual Global Forum. Now in its third year, the Forum has continued to gain strength, offering a wealth of content and wonderful hosts who can capture and engage an audience – traits that certainly befit this year’s ‘Power of the People’ theme.

Following Dubai in 2016 and Tokyo in 2017, the members of the BestCities Alliance invited a delegation of international associations to Bogotá at the end of 2018 as a way to enhance the skills and knowledge of association executives based globally. Held in collaboration with the Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau (GBCB), the Forum honed in on the concept of creating change regardless of your surroundings – a perspective that made all the more sense in the Colombian capital, a city recovering from a complicated past.

What is the BestCities Global Alliance ?

The BestCities Global Alliance is a worldwide partnership of convention bureaux whose objective is to deliver the world’s best convention bureau practices for the meetings industry. The Alliance comprises members in Vancouver, Bogotá, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Dubai, Edinburgh, Houston, Melbourne, Singapore, Tokyo, Madrid and Berlin. The members exchange business leads, organize sales missions and client workshops, and share best practices and knowledge on the international meetings industry. Together with ICCA, BestCities initiated the Incredible Impacts Programme, which celebrates the “beyond tourism” lasting impacts made by associations; gives inspiring legacy examples; and awards much-deserved grants to internationally-based organizations.

Local elements weaved their way into the Forum in the form of personal stories. Neyder Culchac, a young leader from Putumayo, a region in southwest Colombia, shared some of the conflicts he faced growing up that later inspired an initiative that transformed the lives of 480 families in his community. Lina Tangarife, Director of Social Responsibility at the Social Alliance of Uniandinos, meanwhile, has strengthened volunteering among public and private sector companies, making her a prime example of “The Power of People.” While her story is impressive enough, Tangarifealso offered attendees sound advice on how to activate networks.

Besides traditional lectures – Rick Antonson and his cathedral thinking made a popular comeback – the Forum included hands-on, workshop-like sessions, which participants greatly appreciated. “I rarely attend these events, but BestCities provided the ideal platform for me not only to network with my peers, share my issues, and discuss my challenges, but also to participate in engaging discussions and find concrete solutions through innovative formats,” explained Diane Kovats, Executive Director of the International Society for Computational Biology.

The Power of Bogotá

At a time when geopolitical issues and religious boundaries can create barriers for knowledge sharing and collaboration, Bogotá set the ideal backdrop for inspirational thinking. Despite itsown set of challenges, the Colombian capital is a very appealing city. The friendliness, enthusiasm and warmth of its residents quickly twist the perception visitors may have of the destination, undermining flaws such as mobility (which the government is currently working on). Case in point: Bogotá is known as the bike capital of the continent, with a network of more than 350km of bike paths and “Ciclovías” cycling routes, used by approximately 2.5 million people every day.

As Colombia’s economic epicentre and business hub, Bogotá is an emerging conference destination with plenty of assets. Connectivity is just one highlight, with over 700 air routes from 44 destinations. Bogotá has also been voted the fifth best city for business in Latin America, and, with over 60 universities, knowledge and innovation are continuously on the rise.

With a strong portfolio of association wins – The World Summit of Peace Laureates and One Young World, the most important summit of young leaders, took place there in 2017; the International Conference on Production Research in 2018 – Bogotá has caught plenty of global attention lately — and the city is ready for more. In recent years, Bogotá’s diverse economy and favourable business environment have attracted large amounts of foreign investments, as well as business activities and events from organizations based all around the globe, securing the city’s position internationally as a business and conference hub in Latin America.

For some participants, this dynamism was an eye-opener. As Iain Bitran, Executive Director of the International Society for Professional Innovation Management, explained: “I was not sure what to expect when I came to Bogotá. But with its wide range of infrastructure for events and its wonderful people eager to make a positive change, the city is really inspiring; now I’m really considering organizing something here.”

The Forum’s goal was to show the power conferences and meetings have on communities, creating change and leaving legacies for and by the communities involved – a goal that was certainly achieved this year.

More information on BestCities: www.bestcities.net / on Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau: bogotacb.com

This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé. Picture: the whole delegation of partners and associations in Bogotá.


December 19, 2018

Sarawak – Creating Global Communities

No doubt Sarawak, the largest of Malaysia’s thirteen states located on the island of Borneo, is a must-see destination for the regular tourist seeking a plethora of cultures, indigenous communities, UNESCO World Heritage sites, immense rainforests and, of course, unique culinary offerings. But the world of business events has all that and more to gain from the region, as Sarawak is firmly set on the industry’s global map as an emerging destination for major international conferences thanks to its ‘Redefining Global Tribes’ campaign.

Riding on the wave of a long period of successful events, Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB), always with the support of the government, spawned back in 2017 what is still a highly attractive campaign. Since then, the campaign has brought together important international players with the vision to create a strong community, challenging associations to increase the impact of their events on their profession and economy.

The notion that everyone could belong to a tribe and that everyone could unite in Sarawak to form a global tribe where knowledge is shared and legacy is created was received with great interest by associations; after all, that is what any association is all about. And they get rewarded for it. The Anak Sarawak Awards, under the BESarawak umbrella,honours not just convention hosts for their passion and contribution to the growth of Sarawak’s meetings industry, but event suppliers and industry partners every two years.

The goal is to draw on the power of these events to help the state, and the nation, become more advanced through the development of its key sectors with special focus on urban development and re-development, environment, social development, industry, services renewable energy, agriculture as well as digital economy. In this context, Sarawak’s inaugural conference, Business Events Tribal Meet (TriBE 2018) was organised in Kuching earlier this year aiming to drive digital transformation within the Business Events sector.

On this occasion, the BESarawak Alliance (BESA), initiated by the Sarawak Convention Bureau, was launched, featuring a dedicated associate platform for government ministries and agencies to further Sarawak’s economic transformation. This forward-looking effort aspires to create collaborative opportunities between government ministries and agencies through business events. The benefit? The transmission of knowledge, the establishment of new partnerships, and renewed perspectives.

TriBE 2018 featured six international thought leaders in a bid to create a generation of business events leaders whose job is to use digital tools and tribal values in order to create a meaningful legacy. It sets the ground for Sarawak’s bigger plans to enhance further international collaborations and create opportunities for the development of the region’s key sectors. Indeed, in 2020 TriBE Assembly will be an international conference with the focus on Business Events Disruption.

This article was written by Boardroom Editor Vicky Koffa. Watch out for a special Sarawak feature in the February issue of Boardroom.

December 15, 2018

Knowledge All Over Luxembourg

If most people might only see it as this country not really worth visiting, Luxembourg might well be one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, offering more than just a place for diplomats. In fact, as a knowledge hub tucked away between Germany, France and Belgium, the Grand Duchy has many assets up its sleeves, attracting the attention of European and international associations.

 A country full of contrasts, where tradition and modernity coincide in a harmonious manner, Luxembourgis well connected to the major European cities and hubs, whether by car, train or plane. Boastinga trilingual and multicultural population of more than 600,000, it has historically been open to the world: thanks to the country’s role as a centre of business, European capital and home to the European Court of Justiceand the European Court of Auditors and the Secretariat of the European Parliament, it’s hosted EU summits and diplomats from around the world, and is no stranger to organising large-scale events. A founding member of the Benelux, the Grand Duchyhas, over the years, become more than aware of what a successful meetings destination has to offer.

If modern and well-equipped conference infrastructure to suit any requirements are to be found all over, Luxembourg prospers today from the talent of its people and their ability to innovate. The country has understood that its competitiveness in a modern world is increasingly reliant upon effective innovation networks. With competition from all corners of the planet, Luxembourg has been facing rapid economic changes, to which it has adapted. In this regard, the reinforcement – or creation – of its competitiveness clusters reflects a creative way of thinking about the economy.

Cluster Initiative

As early as 2012 indeed, the Luxembourg government launched the Luxembourg Cluster Initiative, a key element of the national research and development and innovation policy, bringing together several clusters and innovation networks established throughout the country and reinforcing private-public partnerships in order to boost innovation. The initiative aims to develop state-of-the- art technologies, while supporting Luxembourg’s existing technological expertise, as well as promoting the development of centres of excellence.

In this context, major corporations, small and medium-sized companies and public research institutions all benefit from a comprehensive range of individualised services offered by the clusters. They are able to leverage their know-how and expertise via access to the pooled knowledge, resources and networks of cluster members.

“The clusters included in the initiative were not chosen at random. They focus on selected strategically key technologies and aim to strengthen already flourishing economic sectors in Luxembourg, as well as to develop new business sectors with the greatest potential for the sustainable development of the national economy. Between 2002 and 2016, five clusters were created bringing together leading companies in the biomedicine, environmental technology, information and communication technology, material sciences and automotive fields. In 2016, the Luxembourg Cluster Initiative continued its development with new members joining its ranks. To the five existing clusters were added two new clusters active in the timber and the creative industries sectors.” writes Marie-Hélène Trouillez in an article published this summer in Merkur magazine.

This support for development and commitment to growth can also be seen in the way Luxembourg is one of the largest contributors to development aid in the EU. Following the peer review of Luxembourg carried out by the OECD’sDevelopment Assistance Committee (DAC) at the end of last year, the country was indeed praised for its generous contribution to official development assistance, allocating 1% of its gross national income to official development assistance (ODA) and thereby exceeding the international target of 0.7%. Around half of Luxembourg’s bilateral aid targets health, education and local development. “The DAC peer review clearly confirmed that our efforts to eradicate poverty are producing sustainable results,” noted Romain Schneider, Luxembourg Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, in a press release. “We are seen by our peers as a reliable, flexible contributor of funds.” 

In this regard, Luxembourg collaborates extensively with many NGOs. Since the adhesion of the country’s to the DAC in 1992, the Grand Duchy’s development cooperation policy has undergone significant change, both in terms of funds made available to it and with regard to its organisational and qualitative aspects. It now works with multilateral organisations in the framework of a development cooperation characterised by a strong commitment to poverty reduction, humanitarian aid and effective work with its new privileged partner countries, such as Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Mali, Niger, Senegal,Nicaragua and Laos. A platform like one-of-a-kind Le Cercle for instance facilitates exchanges and learning between Luxembourg’s various actors in international solidarity and creates a dynamic of change.

This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé. More information: www.visitluxembourg.com/meetings

Picture: European Convention Centre Luxembourg (ECCL)


December 11, 2018

The Secretary General’s Voice
– One Year Later

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 very last contribution, in which he reflects on the year that passed by.

Already one year passed since I took office as Secretary General of UITP. I didn’t see it pass. It was such a busy and exciting year! I faced many challenges and enjoyed many opportunities, not necessarily those I would have imagined. But I am so satisfied with my role and my involvement!

The global dimension, relevance and size of UITP have attracted a lot of interest from numerous national and international organisations. I no longer count the number of invitations received this year to speak at events, participate in the launch of new products, contribute to panels, answer interviews, etc. The reputation of the association and relevance of the topics we cover are a strength that put us in a prominent situation to be approached to represent the sector. This is a priveleged position. Unfortunately we can’t say yes to all solicitations, not that we snob them but because it is practically impossible. It gives a feeling of pride but the stakes are very high at the same time. It requires proper preparation because I respect the organisation who invites me, the attendees who expect my contribution and the association I represent. And my team is outstandingly helpful at preparing my speeches and contributions. I can’t accept any compromise with the quality and relevance of them. I think all went well but only those who attended can judge.

One issue that has been very topical this year is the growing importance of gender balance in our entities and activities. I am happy I identified this before taking office, as a priority for the association. It is not an easy task in a 133 year old  male dominated organisation to decide introducing gender equality. Because you can’t just erase the past and start from scratch. You start from an existing situation and habits. We needed to adopt new ways of thinking, to act with diplomacy, and to dare questioning the statu quo. It’s actually a work in progress and it will be growingly reflected in our coming events and composition of committees and board. Our determination is big:  we even introduced gender balance in our new bylaws formally.

Amongst the fundamental changes there is also the adoption of transparency in our management and communication, and the empowerment of staff and board members. Here too it is a fundamental cultural change. Because transparency means taking the risk of sharing details, being accountable, and putting problems on the table to which you don’t necessarily have the answers. But isn’t it better as it will involve others in sharing the issues and finding solutions? They (the staff and the board members) will feel a sense of ownership and concern about the issues and the future of the association. It will also empower them to concretely lead or contribute to solving the issues. It is the approach we adopted in our financial management, as we reformed our bylaws and reorganised  our internal structure. When you do that, you don’t need to spend energy convincing your partners because they co-design what you want to achieve. It’s about giving the leadership to those who own the association and those who make it work.

These were few examples of this year’s achievements. A year I’ll never forget as it was so exciting. I had the opportunity to share my views and approach on many subjects in this column. It was a pleasure to do it and a honor to receive your ‘likes’ and comments. I hope I have succeeded to engage you with me, in a world that I do hope it’s yours too now. In the end, whatever our field of activities and our professional domain, I have tried to share issues of common sense. We all have so much in common!