Hackathons for Associations?

January 27, 2018

Hackathons for Associations?

haTraditionally, hackathons – the word is a combination of ‘hack’ and ‘marathon’ – are events that focus on entrepreneurship and engineering, often fueled by caffeine and junk food, culminating in the creation of inspiring prototypes and new ideas. Essentially, a hackathon aims to challenge its participants so they turn their ideas into reality – it’s a great illustration of what a sprint of collaborative work can accomplish. Taking a note from the tech world, associations are realising the value in this dedicated type of group problem solving.

Words Rémi Dévé

Hackathons were born in the world of tech startups in the 1990s and traditionally brought together computer programmers to create new software and tech solutions, judged by a panel of subject-matter experts and industry leaders. Facebook features such as the “Like” button and “Timeline” display were developed during hackathons. Today, hackfests, as they are also sometimes called, have spread to almost every industry sector, and are being used by businesses, community activists, and nonprofits to create innovative products, prototypes or programs, as well as help spark new ideas, identify challenges and solve real-world problems. Associations are also seeing the value of those intense sessions and jumping on the bandwagon.

Powerful tool

Hackathons are all about community and collaboration. For associations, they
 have become a powerful tool
to promote engagement and collaboration with members or conference attendees, especially because the core mission of hackathons has endless possible applications. Hackathons can also help build bridges with the technology ecosystem. In today’s world it simply makes sense to be around start-ups, tech gurus, IOT engineers and developers. It doesn’t matter what your industry is, technology is changing it, and associations have realised this.

But why would you, as an association, organise a hackathon instead of a regular seminar for instance? As Ney Neto, Director of Business Development & Innovation, MCI Brazil, says, a hackathon can actually be very efficient in the context of association management. One of the biggest challenges for an association is to keep its members engaged. Communication has changed with the digital transformation. E-mail blasts and one monthly newsletter might not be enough to have your members engaged. So a good objective for hackathoners can be to come up with a prototype a communication tool that will promote engagement with your members.he argues.

On another hand, hackathons might represent a good opportunity for industry professionals to listen to tech savvy people, the millennials, or your next trainee if you will. As digital natives, they think differently when it comes to digital communication, and a hackathon is a wonderful environment to exchange with them. One of the professions of the future is called Social Engineers, the meeting designers who go about this technology ecosystem. They seat in co-working spaces, talk blockchains, meet-ups, hackathons, game jams, and they can facilitate the connections between developers, IT mentors, and the professional or trade associations. In this context, they will be the ones designing innovation journeys to solve problems collectively.says Ney.


Read the rest of this article in the February issue of Boardroom, out soon. In the mean time, check out our past issues.

January 19, 2018

A Trailblazer in Infectious Disease Research

Once believed to be almost eliminated as a public health risk, infectious diseases remain a leading cause of death worldwide. In Canada, there are many professors and scientists, research centres and institutions committed to improving the health of Canadians in particular and people in general through the support of research and dissemination of knowledge pertaining to the field.

Words Rémi Dévé

Ranging from childhood ear infections and measles to flesh eating diseases and sexually transmitted illnesses, infectious diseases affect us all. Over 18 million people died from the influenza pandemic of 1918 and more than 20 million people have already died from AIDS since its outbreak. The World Health Organization reports that at least 30 new diseases have been scientifically recognized around the world in the last 20 years. Diseases such as SARS, Ebola, and cryptosporidiosis are emerging without warning – and some without cures. At the same time, diseases considered to be part of our past such as tuberculosis, cholera, and diphtheria are making a comeback.

Collectively, infectious diseases account for 25% of all annual physician visits. The total cost of treatment and lost productivity associated with infectious diseases in Canada is estimated to exceed $12 billion each year. Antibiotics are the second most frequently prescribed class of drugs – second only to pain relievers.

The good news is that Canada-based institutions like the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre (VIDO – InterVac), located at the University of Saskatchewan, in the city of Saskatoon, are leading the way in infectious disease research. Winnipeg is also home of the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) which houses the only Containment Level 4 operational laboratories in Canada working on some of the most serious pathogens including Ebola, Marburg and Lassa Fever.

Brad Peters Director of International Sales at Tourism Saskatoon, says: “The University of Saskatchewan has grown a worldwide reputation as a Canadian University with one of the broadest disciplines, particularly in the life sciences. All on one beautiful and central campus, with cutting-edge programs and research in areas such as medicine, veterinary medicine, agriculture, kinesiology, nursing, biology and toxicology. In Saskatoon, you can exchange ideas with leading researchers in the fields connected to the prevention and control of infectious diseases.

In this context, VIDO – InterVac, thanks to a multidisciplinary approach, focusses on human and animal health, primarily through vaccine and technology development. They have, for instance, commercialized eight animal vaccines including six world firsts. When the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus spread to North America in 2013, they managed to develop an improved vaccine before the virus infected Canada.

The University of Saskatchewan is also home to Canada’s only synchrotron which harnesses powerful imaging and analytical techniques to solve challenges in health, environment, materials science and other areas of global social and economic importance.

It is safe to argue that Canada has become a global force in infectious disease research. Over just a few years, the opening of new world-class facilities and the creation of prestigious organisations have added to the country’s already well-established reputation.

This article was sponsored by Business Events Canada. Bring your conference/meting to Canada and learn from its experts: Emma Cashmore, Managing Director, Axis Travel Marketing LTD, or call +44 (0) 208 686 2300. 

Picture: Canadian Light Source

January 14, 2018

An Emerging Knowledge-Based Economy in Rwanda

A relatively newcomer in the meetings world, Rwanda is shaping up as one of East Africa’s premier business tourism destinations, thanks to the efforts made by the government and its partners to help strengthen and grow the sector. Betting on a knowledge-based economy, the country’s continuing growth can indeed be attributed to its good governance and sound fiscal discipline, as well as to the commitment from both its public and private sectors to build a more equitable country. Words Rémi Dévé

There is definitely something going on in Rwanda and its capital city Kigali. Over the past decade, the government and the private sector have invested massively in building the right infrastructure, skills, and institutional frameworks to provide an environment that is conducive to making a profound change in the country: from the establishment of higher institutions of learning, like the African Leadership University, University of Global Health equity or AIMS university, to the laying of fiber-optic cable nationwide, this landlocked territory is overcoming all obstacles and moving forward.

The idea has indeed been to transform into a knowledge-based nation. Unlike most African nations, Rwanda has limited natural resources. Far from being a limitation, this has presented an opportunity for the country to take an approach to development that differs from that of its neighbors—an approach where information and communication technologies (ICTs) form the foundations of its plans to fundamentally transform its economy. At the beginning of the century, Rwanda drew up a blueprint—dubbed Vision 2020—for how to achieve this goal. Adopted in 2000, it outlined several initiatives, programs, and strategies for transforming Rwanda into a middle-income country and transitioning its agrarian economy into an information-rich, knowledge-based and service-oriented one by 2020. Rwanda’s unique experience has also been driven by strong partnerships among the regulatory, policy, and implementing bodies.

The business events sector lies at the heart of this transformation. As Rwanda and Kigali host more and more international meetings —the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Global African Investment Summit, the African Union Summit (AU), the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), and The World Academy of Sciences, just to name a few— the Convention Bureau, which was one of the first established in East Africa, has been instrumental in getting the destination on the map. As a result, out of 39 countries, Rwanda placed 5th in Africa in the 2016 ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) rankings, while Kigali placed 3rd among the continent’s top cities for meetings, conventions and events.

Ranked 1st as the safest country in Africa and 9th in the world by the World Economic Forum in 2017, Rwanda is indeed quickly becoming a destination of choice for international conferences, with infrastructure development including the Kigali Convention Centre and the growing presence of international hotel chains, collectively offering numerous meeting spaces.

The full version of this article will be published in the next issue of Boardroom, due out early February.

January 5, 2018

Building Connections with BestCities in Tokyo

Comprised of twelve convention bureaus partnering to help associations achieve success through their events, the BestCities Global Alliance has, for some time now, put in a lot of efforts on education, best practice, and advocacy within the meetings industry. After a successful first forum in Dubai, the second edition, themed ‘Building Global Connections Across Cultures’ took place in Tokyo in December 2017. Words Rémi Dévé

Championing inclusivity and multi-culturalism within the meeting tourism industry in 2018 and beyond: that was the aim of the second BestCities Global Forum and on that matter the four-day programme, packed with thought-provoking sessions and plenty of networking opportunities, definitely delivered. Fifty or so delegates coming from all over the world and all kinds of associations took part in workshops and informative presentations learning about cultural management and intelligence, while looking at ways of establishing purposeful meetings, and acquiring practical skills they can apply to their day to day work back home and future events.

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 of members in Vancouver, Bogota, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Dubai, Edinburgh, Houston, Melbourne, Singapore, Tokyo, Madrid and Berlin. The members exchange business leads, organise sales missions and client workshops as well as sharing best practices and knowledge on the international meetings industry. Not only does BestCities work alongside the association through all phases of their events, they also ensure that this support continues year over year.

A means to an end

In his introductory address, Paul Vallee, Managing Director of the Alliance, explained: “What we can help with is providing value beyond pure tourism benefits. Associations have a higher purpose than just the organisation of meetings, which must become more than simply well planned events, with an increasing focus on their lasting impact and success in the long-term. For destinations and associations, events in general should be regarded as a means to an end, not an end in itself. And BestCities can help in the matter. In fact, that’s exactly what we want to promote with our Incredible Impacts grants, which were just given out to the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH), the World Parkinson Coalition (WPC) and the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT): those were really chosen as examples of excellence and what can be best done in the meeting industry.

In fact, the possible – and now necessary – legacy component of meetings was what a lot of delegates took away from the Forum. Theo Tunga, Head, Operations Service, of Geneva-based ITU Telecom, clearly realised that is something his organisation could work more on. Recognising that our association events can go “beyond tourism” in areas such as legacy development, sustainability and accessibility was really an eye-opener for me. And the fact that an alliance like BestCities can help us just do that and advance the purpose of our associations by helping to create lasting legacies was, in a way, reassuring. We’re not alone in this he said.

Collaborating on strategic outcomes with international associations, while really understanding what they want to achieve and what they’re about from the inside out, the BestCities network conducts and shares detailed event research to aid planners in creating innovative meeting outcomes. In addition, they work closely with local industry stakeholders while also providing access to global knowledge and contacts. In this context, most of the associations present at the Forum came to understand BestCities’ added values when organising events.

Cathedral thinking

On the content front, the session led by Rick Antonson on cathedral thinking proved to be very popular. In the Middle Ages, building a cathedral was considered one of the greatest works that a community could undertake. But constructing such a monument was an endeavour of such scale that they would often take decades or even centuries to finish. The people that laid the foundations would do so in the almost certain knowledge that they would never live to see the finished product.

Like the craftsmen that laid the first stones at Notre Dame, today’s leading scientists, business leaders and creative innovators are beginning to think in terms of a new kind of wealth – the handing down of purposeful and life-affirming projects that only their grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren, will see bear fruit. Medical industries might be the epitome of cathedral thinking: it’s very likely that scientists trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease won’t be around when there will be one. Rick Antonson urged the audience to think about what they can cause, not only what they can do, and to reflect on the kind of long-term legacies that meetings can have.

Other sessions explored the impact of culture in business intelligence and the Hofstede’s cultural dimension model or how workplace values are affected by culture. In partnership with the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau – the organisation was smooth and flawless to say the least, with the best timekeeping I have ever experienced! – the Forum also of course offered attendees a few cultural activities in order to explore Japan’s unique heritage.

Has your association a great legacy programme? Has your last conference left something great behind?  You could apply for and win an Incredible Impact grant from BestCities, in partnership with the International Convention and Congress Association (ICCA). For more information, visit www.bestcities.net


December 21, 2017

Defining Innovation & Creating an Intrapreneurial Culture

In over a decade at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), Michael Walsh has seen a large amounts of transformation within the sector. The Director of Strategy and Innovation shares with Boardroom what innovation and technology mean to him, how to keep pace with consumer behaviour, and how to adapt to a changing workforce.

Innovation vs. technology

Nobody knows technology inside a venue more than Michael Walsh, as he has led the venue’s technology since its build in 2006. In his current role, Michael oversees marketing, communications, business and innovation. To him, innovation can be defined as “change that adds value” – and this has sometimes nothing to do with technology.

An example of a recent innovation at MCEC? the recent launch, at the venue, of Shed Cafe inside the exhibition area. “The idea for Shed Cafe came from our front-of-house and kitchen staff who identified the existing cafe was in the wrong location – tucked away from where people congregate and pass by. We invested half a million dollars to relocate the cafe and it’s now one of our most successful revenue earners” says Michael.

Keeping pace with consumer behaviour

As consumers demand faster internet speeds, more live content, high definition presentations and zero tolerance to internet dark spots – so too do event organisers and attendees.

Walsh says events at MCEC are adopting a hybrid model where audiences can access content remotely and in person. Recently, CISCO ran their annual conference at MCEC where live social media updates were displayed across the venue, generating almost 7,000 tweets from the event – a 20 per cent increase from the previous year.

Creating a culture of innovation

A key part of Walsh’s role is creating and continually fostering a culture of innovation. The MCEC do this through an internal innovation or intrapreneurial program called THINK.

“THINK is about cultivating ideas from our workforce and not just the executive team” says Walsh. Staff at all levels are encouraged to submit their ideas for change that adds value via an online forum. The ideas go directly to the business innovation team who then work with senior management to explore them further.

MCEC’s Visualisation Studio was born out of THINK and allows event planners to create a virtual 3D model of their event space. The technology enables better event planning and a sales tool for event planners to pitch their event and even sell tickets.

Flexible spaces

“To create a truly innovative space, we listened to our customers. There is demand for greater efficiencies when it comes to hosting events. Businesses want to avoid logistical nightmares moving large groups of people from a large convention centre to an intimate gala dinner space” says Walsh.

As work is underway for MCEC’s expansion to a 70,000 square metre space, the focus is on delivering what Walsh calls flexible spaces. Due to open in mid-2018, the new MCEC will allow the same space to be transformed from a meeting to a black tie event within hours.

No replacement for human contact

When asked what the future of innovation within the events sector looks like, Walsh pinned an increasingly hybrid approach using both technology and face-to-face contact.

Walsh says there will be more frequent and better use of event based mobile apps and SMS allowing participants to access content. He also expects to see better use of social media including live streaming through platforms such as Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope, “… but nothing will replace the need for human contact” he said.

This article was sponsored by Business Events Australia. Contact them today and find out for yourself why there’s nothing like Australia for business events. Simon Gidman / Business Events Manager, UK/ Europe / T: +44 207 438 4633 / sgidman@tourism.australia.com / www.australia.com/businessevents

December 15, 2017

The Importance of Empathy Within Associations

openIt is the very essence of associations to gather different kinds of individuals and personalities, most of the time coming from the world over, around a single cause. Franco Viviani, President of the International Council for Physical Activity and Fitness Research (ICPAFR), reflects here on the notion of empathy and what it means for associations.

In international associations, it is not uncommon to find different human typologies, each of them with different backgrounds. For anthropologists and sociologists, a Chinese is, for instance, the product of a society composed of interdependent individuals. In Asia, individuals adapt to the situation because they do not want to break the harmony of the whole. Good relations with others are of paramount importance, resulting in a strong sense of belonging for every member of the group. For example, if exercising on a regular basis is considered to be a good thing by the group, the individual will never jeopardize the equilibrium with, say, his or her laziness.

Different is the American, who can be considered as independent. Americans consider their individual rights as inalienable, and constantly struggle to show their uniqueness. If, for example, they decide to register to a gym to lose weight, they will experience huge satisfaction when achieving the goal. Contrary to the Asians, Americans focus on the product (the ideal weight) and not on the process.

What happens

One question at this point: how can empathy actually happen when culture seems to determine the way people think and behave? Association executives and members have to be aware of cultural differences, in order to interpret desires, goals, and aspirations of their peers the right way.

But first, what is empathy exactly? An emphatic relationship requires from us to let go, but, at the same time, to take a step back. We all have the capacity to share our feelings with others, something that the Germans call Einfϋhlung, or “feeling into”. “Fellow feeling” was conceptualized by Adam Smith, a 18th-century economist: everybody can have the sensation – good or bad – that what is happening to others is happening to them as well. And, more than a decade ago, neuroscientists started to recognize different kinds of empathy, all of them connected to the fact that humans share what the psychologists call “the Theory of Mind”, ie the capacity to understand not only the emotions and feelings of others, but also their beliefs and intentions. That way we can anticipate and hopefully act accordingly.

Clearly, some components of empathy are simple, others complex. For example, compassion includes the motivation to act when we see someone suffer. Cognitive empathy, in addition, is defined as the ability to “put oneself in someone else’s shoes” and understand their feelings. The most studied aspect is emotional empathy, ie the capacity to share another’s feelings by entering that person’s behavioural state. These three components are critical for our social life: mastering them is fundamental to build good relationships.

Recently, empathy started to be taught at trainings, with the aim to resolve disputes. Chariness is here requested because this complex emotion has many nuances, depending on the circumstances in which it appears. For some scientists it is a sort of “Russian doll”, in appearance very simple, but in reality very complex as we get to the core of its mechanism. What is interesting is the fact that empathy and kindness don’t always go together, as empathy tends to appear if the other person is close to us. This must be kept in mind in international settings.

Interpersonal Relationships

Empathy also often softens the relationships in circumscribed groups (family and friends), but doesn’t necessarily improve the dealings with outsiders. Recently, considering the pseudo-virtues of empathy Bloom & Davidson argued that the outcomes of its exaltation go in the opposite direction to the starting assumptions. Empathy is not an ethical guiding light, as the attention focuses on a few individuals and its field of action is limited. In short, empathy is valid for interpersonal relationships, but can become harmful when it appears in broader circumstances. In this context, the notion of public opinion is antithetic to that of empathy, as it implies a contrast of ideas and not identification among peers.

Back to the associations. As they are generally formed by individuals who share common goals, empathy may be useful to mollify interpersonal relationships. Some of them, who clearly play a role in globalization processes, lack empathy, as they don’t see or impact the general public. They are testament of what I call the “cosmopolitan eradication” of the gated communities of the international metropolises, like London, New York, Dubai, or Singapore, in which they work. Social networks, with their filter bubbles, echo chambers and one-to-one marketing, encourage closed communities of like-minded individuals and discourage openness.

If associations need to promote empathy, some measures can be taken, starting, for instance, with the inclusion of women, particularly in the board, as research shows that women tend to be empathic than men. Empathic efforts can also include individuals of different ages and cultural background – young people may display a diffused intelligence that counterbalances the crystalized one of the senior executives. They are also more open, especially if raised in an international context. Different backgrounds indeed exert multiple influences on cognition. For example, different mother languages impart different cognitive abilities, and that can promote nuanced inclinations towards empathy.

Future research will clarify whether or not empathy has been overestimated. For the moment, we can use it cautiously, in well-defined circumstances, bearing in mind that putting oneself in other people’s shoes can have unexpected consequences.

This article was contributed by Franco Viviani, President of ICPAFR, University of Padua, FISPPA & Biomedicine Departments.


December 7, 2017

Introducing ICC Wales

With other regions in the UK well established as key players in hosting international conferences, Wales felt it was time to claim a spot on the meetings industry map. The construction of a large scale convention centre in the region already attracts a lot of attention from the global association market. Words Vicky Koffa

As soon as the decision for the location of the first ever International Convention Centre for Wales was made, building work began on the site in June 2017. The grounds of the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport offered an easily accessible site for the new Centre as it is adjacent to the M4 and just over two hours from London and close to Newport’s main line train station as well as the international airports at Cardiff and Bristol. Due for completion in June 2019, ICC Wales will provide a variety of facilities, such as total floor space for meetings, conferences, exhibitions and events of 26.000sqm, including a 4.000sqm pillar-free main hall, a 1.500 seated auditorium, 12 flexible meeting rooms, a double-height glass atrium and a 2.500sqm outdoor plaza for outside events and teambuilding.

With important universities covering all fields from Art to Medicine, such as the Bangor University and the Cardiff University, and high quality hospitals and research facilities, ICC Wales is eager to attract major international conferences in line with the knowledge opportunities the city has to offer.

Ian Edwards, Chief Executive of ICC Wales commented: “The hosting of large events like the 2014 NATO Summit or the Ryder Cup in 2010 showed that Wales has an appetite to be a contender in the meetings industry. With the building of ICC Wales, which will open in 2019, we will be able to accommodate large-scale conferences for up to 5,000 delegates, which we simply couldn’t do before. That way, the ICC will compete with leading venues around the world and, crucially, for the first time, position Wales as a leading business tourism destination, complete with prestigious universities, amazing hospitals and altogether some high-level knowledge you can’t find anywhere else.” 

A joint venture between the owners of the Celtic Manor Resort and Welsh Government, it is managed by Celtic Manor’s leadership team and has already two large scale conferences booked at the venue – Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference in March 2020 and the venue’s inaugural event – The Hospitality and Catering Expo in July 2019. Led by Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Alzheimer’s two-day annual conference will feature presentations from researchers and clinicians as well as opportunities to network and forge collaborations.


December 4, 2017

Breaking Down Brexit for Associations

Just because the UK is leaving the EU, it doesn’t mean they should be left out of the conversation. Now is the time for associations to refocus and adapt to an already changing world. Despite a lack of clarity about the effects of Brexit and what this means for associations, many are looking at this decision as an opportunity to effect change and create EU-wide coalitions. – Words Lane Nieset

“When one door closes, another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” This quote from scientist Alexander Graham Bell couldn’t ring more true today in the time of Brexit, a political situation Europe hasn’t faced and quite frankly, isn’t sure how to face. “We’re not quite certain what questions to ask since the situation changes each day, each week,” explains Dr. Rachel Barlow, senior advisor to Ellwood Atfield and Co-founder of the Association Leadership Academy, whose clients include international and EU business associations. “The UK government doesn’t seem to be in a strong negotiation position with the EU, which is what the EU wants; they want a solution to this.”

With trade between the UK and the rest of the EU worth over €600 billion per year, the UK industry is now looking to avoid what they call a ‘cliff edge,’ the case of there being no arrangement in place by March 2019 when Britain officially leaves the EU. “The way things are looking today, there’s a real prospect of there being no deal in March 2019,” Barlow says. “All of this political discussion doesn’t bode well for business. Brexit means uncertainty, and this has led to 40 percent of UK firms reducing or delaying investment.”

So what does this mean for European or international associations, who may receive EU funding or have English members? According to the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), whose members comprise pan-EU and global banks, as well as key regional banks, brokers, law firms and other financial market participants: “Brexit will have an impact on both our UK and EU27 members and it will vary considerably across banks, which are conducting extensive planning and putting in place arrangements, including setting up footholds in the EU27, to minimize disruption to their businesses and clients.”

Many associations initially took a stance of neutrality, but now this is starting to change. If associations don’t seek to influence the political situation and be there to defend their business platform, there’s a great risk that somebody else may do that for them.

While some European associations led by British members saw their director generals stepping down following the Brexit decision, others used this as a chance to show unity. “We already have members from Norway, Switzerland and Australia, so why shouldn’t the UK remain a member?” asks CEEMET Director General Uwe Combüchen, who represents more than 200,000 manufacturers across Europe. “We are inclusive. The UK is sitting in all of the meetings. We are standing together here from the employer side, which I understand is not the case for all associations.”

One great example is when CEEMET Chairman Terry Scuoler, who also serves as CEO of EEF, the UK manufacturers’ organization, offered to step down due to the political situation. CEEMET members overwhelmingly responded with a firm rejection his offer. “We want to show unity and that there are no borders for thoughts, no borders for brains,” Combüchen says.

While protecting and including British members is one side of the coin, the other is the very real possibility of UK-based EU associations, such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA), having to leave their current headquarters. EU states may compete to be the new headquarters for powerful European regulatory agencies like this one, where Bucharest has popped up as the unlikely bidder.

 “Bucharest argues that Romania remains the largest EU member state without a European Union agency based in its territory,” said Alexander Smotrov, Global Counsel’s Practice Lead on Russia, the CIS, Central and Eastern Europe, in one of the London-based firm’s recent post. “It will probably resonate with Brussels policymakers already anxious that the Brexit process become neither a policy stitch-up at the hands of Berlin and Paris, nor a carve up of EU assets in the UK between ‘older’ members.”

The full version of this article can be read in the November issue of Boardroom

November 27, 2017

Paris – Larger Than Life

Conferences and meetings are not just events organized in venues. Their impacts, whether on a scientific, social, economic and sometimes cultural level, are always greater than they are. A city like Paris may have understood this better than any other. With the opening, last week, of the Paris Convention Centre, the largest in Europe, it will attract even larger conferences and radiate like never before. Words Rémi Dévé

Paris Convention Centre in numbers

The new Centre is part of a large-scale renovation effort that will turn the Paris expo Porte de Versailles into an open space open to everybody. Located just 15 minutes from the Eiffel Tower, it features a main conference room for up to 5,200 people, directly connected to 44,000 sqm of exhibition space and is ideal for very large international conferences of up to 35,000 attendees. Its gardens, terrace and rooftop event space can accommodate up to 1,000 people, and features an exceptional view of Paris. The building has been given a new façade of undulating glass surfaces that open up the space the lobby is lit with daylight, like most of its meeting rooms and, unusually, its plenary hall.

Viparis, which manages the ten main meeting venues in the Paris-Ile-de-France region, had arranged a very special press trip on the occasion of the inauguration of Paris Convention Centre. It was not only about the new centre itself – even though the tour of the new facility with its highly modular hall of 25,000 sqm under an immense glassroof was quite impressive – it was also about showing the excellence of the region in many sectors, its key industries and, hence, its attraction to European and international associations.

In this context, the visit of NeuroSpin, a cutting-edge research centre in Saclay, was an eye-opener. The fastest growing scientific and technological cluster located 20 kms south of Paris, close to Versailles, Saclay is an educational hub with global reach, housing 15% of French public research from major research institutions like CEA, CNRS, INRA, and universities. There we were treated with an exclusive viewing of the giant magnet weighing 130 metric tons and the core component of the most powerful MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanner in the world to be used for human brain imaging. To make such a powerful magnet, CEA research engineers had to design an instrument larger than any other.

Camilla Andersson, Forum Coordinator at the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, said: The FENS Forum has established itself as the largest Neuroscience event in Europe. Taking place in even years, it usually attracts more than 6000 international delegates. In 2022, we have chosen Paris as our host destination because it’s a major player in the field, with a strong network of scientists, partners and collaborators, and literally dozens of research centres across the Ile-de-France region. We aim to promote excellence in neuroscience research in Europe at large and facilitate the exchange of knowledge – in this regard, Paris seems to be the ideal place to do so.

With the holding of the Olympics in 2024 and the unified effort that was deployed to win the bid to host the Games, it seems like something is happening in Paris. A metropolis with a human feel, where mobility is the priority, and all stakeholders involved in organising conferences seem to be on the same page, working hand in hand to make any kind of event a success, Paris has never been more ready to be a major player on the global scene.

More info on the venues managed by Viparis: www.viparis.com / commercial@viparis.com

(Photo: Paris Convention Centre, the day of its inauguration, on 22 November 2017)


November 19, 2017

Qatar Confirmed to Host ICEIRD 2018

Thanks to unified effort by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and Qatar University (QU), Qatar has won the bid to host the International Conference on Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Regional Development (ICEIRD) in October 2018. Over 250 conference delegates are expected to attend the conference for which Qatar University will be ‘local host’.

ICEIRD is a three-day conference organised by the University of Sheffield’s International Faculty bringing together academics, university technology managers, entrepreneurs, policy-makers and businesses to foster and promote innovation-led growth. The conference offers a platform for academics, university technology managers, entrepreneurs, policy-makers and businesses interested in the theory and practice of university-industry links as well as innovation, entrepreneurship, and regional development.

First held in 2007, ICEIRD has been taking place annually for the past 10 years in Europe; for its second decade, it will rotate worldwide and be hosted in a different region every year. The 2018 edition will be the first edition to be hosted in the Middle East.

,Qatar has a strong track-record in successfully hosting large-scale international conferences and events. Between 2014 and 2016, Qatar hosted a total of 56 events affiliated with the International Congress and Convention Association.

Ahmed Al Obaidli, Director of Exhibitions at QTA said: “ICEIRD is a perfect match for Qatar as it is a regional hub where academics, innovators and entrepreneurs can continue to learn and share knowledge within and outside the walls of a conference hall.” He added, “The hosting of this event comes as part of our continuous efforts to work with local partners to attract international events and boost business events tourism’s contribution to the national economy.”

Professor Panayiotis Ketikidis, Founder of ICEIRD, added: “Taking the 11th ICEIRD beyond Europe is a step towards to satisfying global demand for the wealth of knowledge that the conference has produced through its wide network over the past decade. We are highly honoured that the ICEIRD 2018 will be hosted by the University of Qatar and are confident that being hosted in a true regional innovation hub will further expand the conference’s network.”

Qatar Tourism expands international efforts to further establish the destination’s relevance for congress organizers – recent steps include a waiver of visa for 80 international countries.

Meet the team of QTA at ibtm Barcelona at Stand J60, join the Qatar Tourism Authority for a VIP Welcome Business Lunch on Tuesday 28 November at 1PM (to register click here) or contact Johanna Fischer of tmf dialogue marketing Germany (j.fischer@tmf-dialogue.com, +49 9002 111).