Current Affairs

Virtual Innovations in Vienna

26th April 2021

The European Congress of Radiology (ECR), one of Europe’s largest congress events and the second biggest medical imaging meeting worldwide, is held annually in Vienna. The 2021 virtual only event (3-7 March), was elevated through multifaceted, state-of-the-art streaming, vast technological operations and truly novel and interactive content, connecting more than 15,000 participants across the globe.


ECR 2021 went for an extensive broadcast offering that streamed five simultaneous channels on the inhouse ‘ESR Connect’ platform. The vast technological feat was headquartered at Vienna’s Palais Hansen Kempinski, in which a live studio served as the main headquarters for ECR 2021 and Channel N° 1 content. The latter offered attendees a great variety of session formats and interactivity , adding great value to ECR 2021’s presentation and overall user experience.

On the decision to overcome technical challenges and create a hub at the Palais Hansen Kempinski, Professor Fuchsjäger, chairman of the ESR Board of Directors stated that “When we started thinking about creating Channel No. 1, which featured the Pop-Up World Tour, our Table Talks, Morning Welcomes from the President, and the Wellbeing Workshops, we immediately knew that this must be done with excellence. Our participants who have been to Vienna before know the ECR for its unique atmosphere, innovation and style as well as its ability to transform the congress venue into a world of radiology. With Channel No. 1, we transferred this experience to the online world and the Hansen Kempinski, also a long-term partner of the ESR, offered the perfect venue, where we were able to set up this fantastic virtual studio”

Important to note, although ECR 2021 was staged as a fully virtual event, a bespoke prevention plan was put in place to ensure the safety of all operational staff and speakers behind the production.

As a result of overcoming these challenges and hosting ECR on such a grand virtual scale for the first time, the below snapshot results in numbers say it all: 

  • 15,783 total attendees, including 14,776 professional attendees and 962 industry representatives
  • 131,803 session and on demand event attendees 
  • 2,000 individual presentations and more than 1,400 electronic poster presentations
  • 2,421 speakers showcased 


Professor Fuchsjäger, ESR commented that “there were several unique features of the congress that really stood out”, all supported via behind-the-scenes technology as already mentioned. In particular, ECR 2021’s global interface and partner engagement via the novel Pop-Up World Tour was transformative and increased interactivity across all streaming channels championed via tech and gamification, as well as the In-Focus Wellness programme, were all key innovative takeaways:  

Pop-Up World Tour

The new ‘Pop-Up World Tour’, hosted on the central information and entertainment stream Channel N° 1, transformed Vienna into a global interface, showcasing sessions from 20 cities across the world, expanding the reach of ECR 2021. It was a great opportunity for ESR to engage with local institutions helping to not only strengthen collaborations but also deliver a far more diverse programme. Professor Fuchsjäger, ESR commented that “The Pop-Up World tour was a great success as everyone we invited, including our closest institutional and industry partners, did such a fantastic job and we were overwhelmed with the programmes they came up with. With those contributions ECR 2021 became a truly global event”.

Interactivity and gamification 

Interactivity, often a challenge for virtual events, was made a huge priority for ECR 2021. Various features ensured attendees could engage with one another, such as the speaker directory, live chat and most notably, the Virtual Exhibition. 

ECR 2021 utilised technology once again, to introduce an innovative gaming tool, Play@ECR, to ECR 2021’s Virtual Exhibition, offering guests the chance to win daily prizes at certain exhibitor stands. Play@ECR raised and maintained increased active involvement during the Virtual Exhibition, which encouraged the desired outcome of further networking.

In-Focus wellness programme 

Another form of interactive content, ECR 2021 also paved the way in incorporating novel wellness elements to virtual events. The In-Focus wellness programme streamed on Channel N° 1 made reference to what has been a difficult year for medical professionals working during the pandemic and offered vital support to nurture their wellbeing. Educational sessions on wellness, work-life balance and resilience were included, as well as activity classes in yoga, dance, mindfulness, aikido and qigong. The programme strengthened the interdisciplinary scope of ECR 2021, proved popular with attendees and will return as part of ECR events to come. 

Professor Fuchsjäger, ESR confirmed that the successes from ECR 2021 will also be translated to future onsite meetings which “will offer even more extensive opportunities for virtual attendance through live streaming and remote interaction than before, so that even those who cannot make their way to Vienna can learn and participate in ECR.” These takeaways can be translated for any disciplinary industry event. 


Altogether Vienna was a trusted host of “excellence” perfect for ESR to create and execute ECR 2021. Christian Woronka, director of the Vienna Convention Bureau commented that, “This year’s ECR has shown that Vienna as a meeting destination is setting trends in the global meetings industry even in challenging times. Vienna is not only perfectly capable of hosting international congresses with thousands of attendees in person, but functions further as a perfect stage for global virtual event formats thanks to the professional network of venues and technology providers. Delegates were able to experience a glimpse of Vienna through the innovative implementation and we are very much looking forward to welcoming them again in person”.

Following the success and innovative implementation of ECR 2021, welcoming over 15,000 participants as an online event, if coronavirus permits, a hybrid ECR Summer Edition will take place in Vienna from 1-3 July 2021, with plans to return to the renovated Austria Center Vienna as a physical event in 2022.

Professor Fuchsjäger, ESR stated that “The Summer event will build on everything we have learned from ECR 2021 and will also be a test run for new ideas we are developing for ECR 2022…What participants can definitely look forward to is another outstanding online event on ESR Connect, which will be as unique as ECR 2021”. 

Hit enter to search or ESC to close