Scotland has shown its commitment to change in several different ways, including finding innovative solutions and initiatives to help tackle climate change, work towards eradicating poverty and to provide greater access to renewable energy sources in remote areas.

In 2019, we launched our new strategy, the Policy Driven Model, which aligns the national pursuit of business events with Scotland's credentials, achievements and ambitions at a city, regional and national level.

This strategy shifts 'traditional' business events marketing towards a new model of operation beyond beds and breakfasts to a position where business events are recognised as being a catalyst for social and economic change.

Our Head of Business Events, Neil Brownlee takes a deep dive into the model and how Scotland, beyond business events, can reap the benefits.

Neil Brownlee speaking image_website

Neil Brownlee, Head of Business Events at VisitScotland.

Scotland’s events sector

Over the past few years Scotland has attracted some high-profile global events including TEDSummit 2019 and COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, which will take place this November.

Between 2018 and 2019 we welcomed more than 130,000 delegates to association conferences. Attendees included researchers, academics, entrepreneurs, industry leaders - a cohort of delegates at the forefront of their sectors.

In the same period association events and conferences contributed more than £206m to the Scottish economy, with repeat visits and extended stays contributing a further £11m.

Policy in action

The Policy Driven Model provides the opportunity to learn from global leaders to support and develop policy areas; business events provide a ready-made vehicle to do this.

In practical terms, it means a new way of working for our business events team and applying a new Policy Driven Model ‘lens’ to the opportunities presented to Scotland.

Under the Policy Driven Model, we need to look at:

  • Driving government policy forward using business events
  • Aligning business events to Scotland’s policy ambitions
  • Embedding a new way of thinking into government and advocating the role of business events as policy partners, not as live events.
  • Identifying a pipeline of events for Scotland that align to Scottish government policy objectives and creating a partnership to win those events from the outset – we work together as a team.
  • Become change agents, not travel agents.

To help achieve our goals, the team needs to recognise how an event aligns with the Scotland’s National Performance Framework objectives. They also need to understand whether the event supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals and if not, decide whether it is the right event for Scotland to look to support financially or otherwise.

On the other hand, if an event does show alignment to policy, for example a transition to a low carbon economy or for better educational outcomes, can we work with the government or industry partners to provide further support or initiatives to help strengthen the bids?

By using this model, Scotland can learn from the events, share knowledge with others, encourage inward investment, and push forward on government policy aims.

Events for change

We are incredibly fortunate to have secured some outstanding events for Scotland that will take place over coming years and which reflect our vision for the Policy Driven Model.

In just a few months’ time the country will host the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at Glasgow’s SEC, the largest event to be staged in the country with more than 30,000 delegates expected over 12 days. The conference, which takes place 31st October – 12 November 2021, will unite more than 190 world leaders with negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. COP26 will be a carbon-neutral conference and will meet the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change sustainability requirements for the delivery of the conference as well as supporting Scotland’s commitment to decarbonise by 2050.

Looking forward to next year, Edinburgh will host Scotland’s first event dedicated to the animal health, agritech, and aquaculture (AAA) sectors, A3 Scotland. The event will encourage innovation, investment and collaboration across the sectors and will welcome delegates from across the world including investors, scientists and government officials.

There will also be optional pre and post conference tours showcasing some of the world-class research facilities and expertise across Scotland.

To find out more about Scotland’s Policy Driven Model take a look at our Head of Business Events, Neil Brownlee’s interview with IBTM Meets here.