The Strategic Edge of Adelaide

10th June 2024

Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, has emerged as a premier destination for business events, thanks to its thriving key sectors, state-of-the-art convention facilities, compact size and pioneering sustainability initiatives. During IMEX Frankfurt, Boardroom met with Sarah Goldfinch General Manager of Adelaide Convention Centre, and Damien Kitto, CEO of Business Events Adelaide, to talk all things meetings.

Words Remi Deve

Key Sectors Driving Adelaide’s Success

Adelaide’s economic landscape is dominated by several key sectors, from health and medical research to space, innovation, defence, and advanced manufacturing, making it an ideal location for industry-specific business events. The city is home to Adelaide BioMed City – one of the largest health and life sciences clusters in the Southern Hemisphere – which is conveniently located immediately adjacent to Adelaide Convention Centre. This precinct includes the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), the Royal Adelaide Hospital, along with medical facilities of two South Australian universities. It is also the site for a new Women’s and Childrens Hospital, currently under construction. 

“Adelaide’s health and medical research sector is world-renowned, providing an unparalleled backdrop for conferences in these fields,” says Sarah Goldfinch, General Manager, Adelaide Convention Centre“Our city’s collaborative ecosystem fosters innovation and knowledge sharing, making it an attractive destination for international conferences.”

The defence and space sectors are also pivotal to the South Australian economy. Adelaide is home to the Australian Space Agency – a direct legacy of the International Astronautical Congress the city hosted in 2017 – and the Defence Innovation Hub, positioning it as a leader in these high-tech industries. These sectors not only drive local economic growth, but also attract a wide range of business events and conferences.

Innovation & Sustainability at Adelaide Convention Centre

At the heart of Adelaide’s conference infrastructure is Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC), a world-class facility renowned for its innovative design and commitment to sustainability. Set at the heart of Adelaide’s vibrant riverbank precinct, the ACC offers 20,000 square metres of highly flexible event space, including plenary halls, exhibition spaces and meeting rooms, making it capable of hosting events of all sizes and formats.

“We pride ourselves on providing an exceptional conference experience,” states Goldfinch. “Our venue combines cutting-edge technology, versatile spaces, and outstanding service to meet the diverse needs of event organisers and attendees.”

The ACC’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its extensive green initiatives, which have earned it numerous accolades. Just last year, the ACC became, the world’s first convention centre to achieve EarthCheck’s coveted Master certification, representing 15 years’ best practice in business, social and environmental sustainability. The Centre’s sustainability measures include energy-efficient lighting and a comprehensive waste management program, which sees the venue currently divert more than 99% of waste from landfill.

For visiting delegates, another standout feature of the ACC’s sustainability efforts is its focus on sustainable catering. The Centre sources over 97% of its produce from local suppliers, ensuring fresh, high-quality food while reducing food miles. Additionally, the ACC has a stringent policy against single-use plastics, further reducing its environmental footprint.

“Our sustainability initiatives are integral to our operations,” explains Goldfinch. “We have implemented a range of practices designed to minimise our environmental impact and promote sustainability in all aspects of events held at our venue. Our approach to sustainability goes beyond the conventional; we continuously strive to set new standards in sustainable business event management.”

Many of the green initiatives highlighted by Goldfinch are captured in the venue’s new sustainability strategy, The Green Print. The four-year plan (2024 –2027) maps the venue’s path to a more sustainable future, minimising its environmental footprint, maximising its positive impact on communities, and creating tangible solutions for its clients and guests to support a better tomorrow.

Strategic advantages

Damien Kitto, CEO of Business Events Adelaide, underscores the significance of the ACC’s contributions to the city’s appeal as a conference destination. “Adelaide’s ability to host world-class conferences is greatly enhanced by the facilities and services provided by Adelaide Convention Centre,” he notes. “The Centre’s commitment to sustainability and innovation aligns perfectly with the values of many international organiaations seeking venues that reflect their own environmental and social responsibility goals.”

Kitto also highlights Adelaide’s strategic advantages, including its compact size and ease of access. “Adelaide offers a unique blend of accessibility, cutting-edge facilities, and industry expertise,” he says. “The city’s compact nature means that delegates can easily move between their accommodation, the convention centre, and local attractions, making for a seamless and enjoyable conference experience.”

Additionally, Adelaide recently joined the Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Index. This underscores the city’s commitment to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles, and reflects a broader dedication to sustainability, inclusion, and diversity. The prestigious index benchmarks destinations based on their sustainablilty practices, and Adelaide’s participation highlights its proactive efforts to foster an eco-friendly, inclusive environment that supports diverse communities and equitable growth. 

Adelaide is also one of the few cities to have achieved carbon neutrality through a series of ambitious initiatives and achievements. The city has significantly reduced its carbon footprint by transitioning to renewable energy sources, with  100% of its municipal electricity now generated from wind and solar power. Additionally, Adelaide has implemented extensive urban greening projects, increasing green spaces and planting thousands of trees to enhance carbon sequestration. The introduction of energy-efficient public transportation, such as electric buses, trams and improved cycling infrastructure, has further underscored the city’s dedication to reducing emissions. 

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