P&J Live, an association congress
© P&J Live

Why Scotland

Scotland's business events wins

Our industry has weathered the storm of the pandemic, and as restrictions have eased it is heartening to see full-scale domestic and international events coming back to Scotland.

But the return to events is not just about economics. Business events are vehicles for change and while the impact of the pandemic will be long felt, the return of association events is a signpost to the future - there are other subjects to discuss, policies that need to be developed and associations are able to meet again in Scotland to do just that.

We spoke to our colleagues in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow to learn more about some of the key events returning to their cities this year, the Scottish government policy areas they tie into and some of activities that are being put in place to ensure these events have positive impacts in Scotland, away from the conference hall.

Each of these events has been supported through the National Conference Bid Fund, which to date has helped nearly 160 events and attracted more than 135,000 delegates to Scotland, with grants awarded totalling in excess of £2.8m.

Glasgow - Organisation for Human Brain Mapping, SEC, June 2022

George Square and Glasgow City Chambers 1920x1280

George square, Glasgow

The Organisation for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM) is dedicated to advancing the understanding of the anatomical and functional organisation of the human brain using neuroimaging. A primary function of OHBM is to provide educational forums for the exchange of up-to-the-minute and ground-breaking research across neuroimaging methods and applications.

Scotland has a long and impressive history as a country in which pioneering medical advances have been made, and this legacy continues to the present day in many specialised fields of medical research, including advanced imaging. After all, Scotland is the home of the MRI scanner and imaging is an advanced specialism that is studied in multiple universities.

As a field of application, neuroimaging is critical to our understanding of how the brain works, and how certain influences can impact the structure and workings of the brain – from direct impact trauma to the changes that the brain can go through owing to other influences, like substance abuse. As a non-invasive process that relies on technology, neuroimaging is at the cutting edge of medical science, combining multiple disciplines.

It is the Scottish government’s policy to maintain and grow the country’s strength in science and research, to create a more educated, inclusive, and innovative Scotland.

Events like the OHBM conference in Glasgow bring in global experts to this highly specialised field and will facilitate important dialogue between Scottish practitioners and researchers and their global counterparts. OHBM is an opportunity to showcase what the country is doing in the field the country’s innovations and can attract investment and new research partnerships, helping to keep Scotland at the forefront of innovation, and helping to advance several areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) specialism in line with government aims.

We spoke to Campbell Arnott, International Business Development Manager at Glasgow Convention Bureau, about OHBM:

“We first began discussing this bid with our lead Ambassador, Professor Lars Muckli in 2016. We were in conversation with OHBM for several years, which led to a site visit in April 2019, followed by a successful decision for Glasgow in November 2019.

As is often the case, it was a truly collaborative effort across the city to support Professor Muckli and his LOC in bidding to bring this event to the city. Key partners included Glasgow Convention Bureau, the SEC, the University of Glasgow’s Imaging Centre for Excellence and SINPASE (Scottish Imaging Network). Collectively, the bid team provided letters of support, contributing with scientific tours to their facilities for both site visits and for attending delegates, as well as LOC participation.

“The Glasgow bid was successful for several reasons. The Imaging Centre of Excellence has one of the few ‘7t scanners’ in the UK, and the only one being used in a clinical setting. As we have seen many times, Glasgow’s position as a leading city of applied science and research plays an important role in showing clients that this is the right city for them and their delegates. Our academic community also has good ties to potential sponsors, such as Siemens, which has a big presence in the city.

“We were delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Professor Muckli and the team at the Imaging Centre of Excellence, and to have their support for this bid.”

SEC Armadillo and SSE Hydro

Scottish Event Campus (SEC), Glasgow

Aberdeen - Association for the Study of Medical Education, P&J Live, July 2022

Aberdeen Art Gallery

Aberdeen Art Gallery. © Visit Aberdeenshire / Damian Shields

The Association for the Study of Medical Education Annual Scholarship Meeting is an event that discusses the methodology of how to teach medicine.

Scotland has a large healthcare sector that is facing ever greater pressures and challenges. As populations age, acute healthcare issues are becoming more prevalent and serious challenges like Covid-19 have put an enormous stress on our healthcare services. Like in many other parts of the UK, the healthcare sector in Scotland has also seen recruitment challenges and a shortage of key workers.

There is a clear need to support and engage with these professionals who study the best methods of delivering an education for a medical role. And not just doctors, but all healthcare workers. In the area of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals, the Scottish government has a clear policy to help attract and support new entrants into those professions.

The quality of the workforce produced is linked to the quality of the education they receive. The Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) Annual Scholarship Meeting is an excellent opportunity to further that goal in Scotland and for practitioners, scholars and policy leads to engage with the latest thinking as we continue to advance the healthcare profession. The country also has a clear policy to attract senior school pupils into medical careers, something which is being directly advanced by ASME in Aberdeen.

This year the ASME Annual Scholarship Meeting will be hosted at P&J Live in Aberdeen. We spoke to Kim Stephen, Head of Sales at P&J Live, about the impact the event will have:

"Aberdeen has been in discussion with ASME since August 2019. The bid has been supported by NHS Grampian, Opportunity North East and the University of Aberdeen - showcasing a strong regional and city wide support for the bid.

"I originally reached out to ASME to share more information about P&J Live, and the conversation grew from there. I visited their offices, before they visited us for a show round to see the venue in person. Although there were no LOC requirements as part of the bid process, we do have one set up now, drawing its membership from supporting organisations. Support from those local organisations outlined in the bid was key, and the facilities P&J can offer work so well for their needs too in terms of space and size.

"ASME was impressed by the world class facilities we had at our disposal, along with the flexibility and number of rooms available to them. The University of Aberdeen is one of the oldest medical schools in the UK, with medical education one of the main research themes in the institute - so there was a strong connection to the city and its medical traditions and current research output.

"There will be an international audience for the conference, with delegates attending from around the world, including Canada, Pakistan, USA, Australia, Sudan, South Africa, Republic of Ireland, Germany and more. The event is a fantastic boost for the city of Aberdeen and a great way to showcase Scottish research to an international audience."

We also spoke to ASME about their outreach plans, and specifically their policy aligned plan to engage with local senior pupils:

"We are working with the University of Aberdeen. Some of our directors are based there, and three lecturers from the university are members of our local organising committee. We are currently offering tours to the university and its research units to delegates.

"We will also be inviting high school students (based in Aberdeen) from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend the conference.

"ASME ENRICH Opportunities offer an exciting experience for a selected number of pupils in S5 or S6 to attend the conference for free. This national initiative is designed to actively support young people interested in developing their interests and insight into the field of medical and healthcare education. This year we are collaborating with REACH hosted at the University of Aberdeen."

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P&J Live, Aberdeen. © Visit Aberdeenshire / Damian Shields

Edinburgh - Paediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease, EICC, September 2022

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The Dugald Stewart Monument on Calton Hill, Edinburgh

In September 2022, Edinburgh will host the sixth International Symposium on Paediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease (PIBD) at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC).

The PIBD meeting is a specialism within the wider European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN), that has a stated aim to develop the research, management guidelines, advocacy, and education of PIBD issues.

This is an area of healthcare in which Scotland has notable strengths, the parent ESPGHAN 2019 conference took place in the country and was supported with a VisitScotland Bid Fund grant.

The Scottish Government has a dedicated policy to advance maternal and child health, known as Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC). The GIRFEC initiative supports families by making sure children and young people can receive the right help, at the right time, from the right people. GIRFEC is a way for families to work in partnership with people who can support them, such as teachers, doctors, and nurses. Child health, and the ability to quickly diagnose, treat and care for inflammatory bowel issues is of course a part of this policy.

Hosting the 2022 International PIBD Symposium in Edinburgh provides a positive and high-profile opportunity for policy makers and practitioners to engage with this European community of experts and, in turn, help strengthen Scotland's knowledge and delivery of this crucial paediatric healthcare area. 

We spoke to Amanda Wrathall, Sales and Marketing Director at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) about PIBD:

"We were first approached about making a bid to host PIBD's 2022 International Symposium by local ambassador Professor David Wilson, Personal Chair of Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at the University of Edinburgh. Professor Wilson came to us in January 2016, and remarkably we were able to confirm this event for Edinburgh by March 2016.

"Working with Convention Edinburgh, at the time, along with various partners from across the city we managed to pull together the bid proposal in just a month. We were up against stiff competition from Tel Aviv, Budapest, and Sorrento, so we were delighted that Edinburgh won. against such notable destinations.

"This bid was truly inclusive in its approach, and we were able to gain support from a wide variety of city and national partners, who were all keen to collaborate to support to the bid. Support was also given from the Rt. Hon. Donald Wilson, Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh; Professor Jurgen Schwarze, Edward Clark Chair of Child Life and Health at the University of Edinburgh, and Dr Andy Barclay, President, SSPGHAN Scottish Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (SSPGHAN).

"The appeal of Edinburgh, with its mix of beauty and intrigue, together with the facilities that we offer at the EICC, make for a thoroughly engaging and memorable conference. But as we so often see, it is our local ambassadors and the wider Scottish academic community who can really help us attract such events and who in the end help make the event such a great success. Scotland is particularly strong in Gastroenterology, as we can see through Glasgow hosting the ESPGHAN in 2019. In Edinburgh we have this added specialism on the paediatric side, and the PIBD group were keen to come to a destination with that strong local specialism."

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Edinburgh International Conference Centre. © EICC / David Barbour