Conference Design

Never at a Standstill

28th October 2021

With a future-oriented outlook that focuses on the next few years and the development of various urban areas, Brussels is leading the way among major cities that create long-term value for its residents and visitors – proving it’s a destination of choice for European and international associations.

Uniquely positioned on the European and global tourism map and allowing a genuine balance between business and leisure activities, Brussels cements its position as an international capital and a comfortable place to live and work to experience all year round.

What a more beautiful place to celebrate the end of your university studies than Brussels’ Grand-Place? A photograph with fellow students and the Town Hall as the background is an incredible souvenir. The ceremony organised by the ULB and VUB is proof of the importance given to all aspects of academic life, from student exchange, to research and scientific congresses.

Academic research

The city has been deeply involved in being an attractive place for pursuing academic research, freedom of opinion and debate across all disciplines. The Palais d’Académies, seat of the Belgian Royal Academy of Science, was the meeting place at the beginning of the 20th century, which later led to the constitution of the Union of International Associations and still today hosts various events of foundations, scientific associations and think tanks.

Music is ever-present in the city, thanks to local and internationally renowned events. The city brings together a vibrant cultural life with a wide variety of styles for all audiences. 2022 will be a year dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Toots Thielemans, highlighting Brussels’ impact on jazz. The Queen Elisabeth Competition in May will be dedicated to the cello for the second time, bringing new classical music talent into the spotlight. 

Music is also celebrated through specific events, such as the 75th anniversary of Jeunesses Musicales Internationales (JMI). Over 40 nationalities gathered in September 2021 at the Maison de la Poste at Tour & Taxis for a special concert that challenged composers to create pieces that captured the spirit of JMI’s central vision of bringing the youth of the world together through music.

Ongoing renewal

Meanwhile, the renewal of the city continues. While the opening of Belgian Beer World in the former stock exchange building is set for 2023, the pedestrian neighbourhood and its surrounding area already allow people to enjoy the lively atmosphere of an area filled with theatres, bars and restaurants.

The city centre is seeing the appearance of a new generation of offices and co-working spaces going from the Central station towards place De Brouckère, which also awaits a new tenant of the iconic former Hotel Continental building. The former Sheraton Hotel and others in the city centre will be reopening soon, and in 2021 the new Hilton Double Tree and five-star newcomer the Juliana Hotel were inaugurated.

Sustainability is at heart of the Brussels-Capital Region’s activities and those of all its stakeholders. With clusters dedicated to circular economy, the region is looking forwards and aims to provide the best possible value and a breeding ground for cooperation and the re-use, recycle principles. Workshops are organized regularly, like those of the Good Food program, which involve local producers and distributors and the hospitality sector. All actors are dedicated to eliminating food waste, offering healthy food and satisfying the demanding quality requirements of consumers. The hospitality cluster now organizes tours around the city to introduce people to this ever-evolving ecosystem.

International Meetings Uprise

In October 2021, after a break forced by the pandemic, relaunched its quarterly tour of the city’s various districts aimed at international associations. For its comeback edition, it focused on event venues with the latest digital innovations for conference organization. Conscious of the requirements of online and hybrid meetings, the Brussels-Capital Region provided in the last two years an incentive fund for investments in digital technologies, which several event venues and companies embraced to adapt to the circumstances.

In 2021, Brussels hosted – virtually, face-to-face or hybrid format – the congress of the European Calcified Tissue Society in May; the International Geoscience & Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS) in July; the International Symposium on Intensive Care & Emergency Medicine (ISICEM) at the end of August/beginning of September and Nanobodies in September. The final quarter of the year is also busy, with the IMCoS International Symposium and the International Congress of International Living Donor Liver Transplantation Group being held in October and the MOVE Congress, the Global Humanitarian Aid Event (AidEx), the European Cancer Summit, the Brussels International Spine Symposium and the euroPLX 77 Brussels in November.

As mentioned by ISICEM President, Professor Jean-Louis Vincent, “We are coming back to life, a more normal life. In the medical field, it is particularly important to have face-to-face discussions rather than through screens. Exchanges, round tables, meetings with experts are essential to the development of science. All our participants were particularly happy to be together again, in Brussels.”

Meetings were able to be held thanks to the various safety measures introduced by the organizers and venues, which were based on Belgian regulations and the protocol of the Brussels Health and Safety Label. From the autumn, these measures were supported by the introduction of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST), a health pass which is scanned at event sites and is equivalent to similar measures introduced in other countries.

After a year that has seen a slow but progressive relaunch of activities, 2022 will welcome the return of major trade fairs, such as Labelexpo, or the celebration of the 10th edition of the European Association Summit.

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