All BestCities destinations have considerable investment in medical-related infrastructure such as hospitals, universities, research institutes and technology parks and the outlay is paying off with international medical conferences bringing visitors and economic benefit to the cities. Through these meetings, they also attract scientists, researchers and medical professionals from around the world who bring valuable knowledge and research, strengthening ties with academia, government and industry.
Edinburgh has long been regarded as a global leader in many areas of medical research and development with notable developments in genetics, cloning, stem cell research and liver transplantation.
Lesley Williams, Head of Business Tourism for Marketing Edinburgh, Convention Bureau says that Edinburgh’s standing as a world leader in medical research didn’t happen overnight. “During the 18th century, Edinburgh was at the centre of the Scottish Enlightenment – a period characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific achievement. Medicine was one of the fields that rapidly advanced and this established our city at the forefront in medical research and the training of physicians, which continues today and is one of the reasons we successfully win many of the world’s most important medical conferences.”
Around 20% of all conferences and events held in Berlin are related to the medical sector, establishing one of BestCities newer partners as a “Health Capital”.
According to Professor Dr Detlev Ganten, founding president of the World Health Summit, which Berlin will host for the fifth year in 2013, “Berlin is a modern capital with a long medical tradition and is thus the ideal place to bring together the leading personalities representing every field in the health sector. Such a great exchange is made possible through the World Health Summit and the healthcare metropolis Berlin.”
With Cape Town’s place in the medical history books established in 1967 when Dr Christiaan Barnard performed South Africa’s first kidney transplant and the world’s first heart transplant, it is not surprising that the city continues to have strong medical scholarship. In the past twelve months alone the city has won 10 international medical meetings including the 16th Congress on Infectious Diseases for 2014 and the 45th Congress of International Society of Paediatric Oncology for 2015.
Copenhagen is located in a region rich with 10 universities, 165,000 students and 16,000 scientists and researchers. The region is also named Medicon Valley because of its strong position within medico companies and research. The Medicon Valley Academy was founded in 1997 to encourage cooperation between companies, organizations and public authorities in order to develop activities within health and life science.
Over the next three years, Copenhagen will host 13 international medical meetings including the Congress of the European Society of Ophthalmology in 2013, the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in 2014 and the International Congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology in 2015.
Dubai’s standing as a world-class host of medical meetings was firmly established when the World Diabetes Congress, which the city hosted in 2011, attracted an unprecedented 15,100 delegates – 3,500 more than any previous World Diabetes Congress and almost 30% higher than forecasted by the International Diabetes Federation. Perfectly located to attract delegates from all corners of the globe, future medical meetings will also benefit from Dubai’s outstanding accessibility.
The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB) also recognise the value in raising the global profile of their city as a medical hub with an initiative that has created a new annual medical conference for their city. Partnering with Messe Dusseldorf, the German organization that produces the world's largest medical tradeshow in Germany and the Texas Medical Center, they will create and host the first ever Medical World Americas in 2014.
Greg Ortale, President and CEO of the GHCVB, emphasizes that Medical World Americas is not a one-time opportunity. "It is representative of a new initiative in our organisation to capitalise on the business strengths of Houston and draw appropriate conventions and events, particularly in the energy, healthcare and aerospace industries."
Melbourne will hold three of the world’s most significant medical conferences less than eight months apart starting with the prestigious 22nd World Diabetes Congress in December 2013 for approximately 12,500 delegates, followed by the World Congress of Cardiology in May 2014 for 9000 delegates, and the 20th International AIDS Conference in July 2014 which, attracting over 14,000 delegates, will be the largest medical conference ever held in Australia.
Karen Bolinger, Chief Executive Officer of the Melbourne Convention Bureau, said that Melbourne continues to excel in the fields of medicine and science and is widely regarded as a centre of excellence for research and development in these industries. “International associations bringing conferences to Melbourne have indicated that the strength of their discipline’s local research community and the size of the wider academic community were major factors in their decision to choose the city as the host destination.”
With more than 6,000 international researchers, seven research institutes and five research consortia in key fields that include clinical sciences, genomics, bioengineering, molecular/cell biology, medical biology, bioimaging and immunology, it is no wonder Singapore has become a major draw for international medical meetings and in a unique collaboration between Government and the academia, the city also hosted the 2013 World Health Summit (WHS) regional meeting in April, the first time this unique discussion of global health issues took place outside Berlin.
Jeannie Lim, Executive Director, Conventions & Meetings and Exhibitions & Conferences, Singapore Tourism Board, says, “As home to one of Asia’s fastest growing bio-clusters, Singapore’s unique strength is its ability to integrate infrastructure, technology and research successfully. This results in an ideal setting for meeting organisers to tap into the exchange of ideas and exploration of the latest scientific developments, especially within the Asian context.” Some of Singapore’s upcoming biomedical and scientific congresses include the 6th International Singapore Symposium of Immunology in June 2013 and the 9th World Congress on Cosmetic Dermatology (WCOCD) 2014.
Vancouver will host 16 international medical conferences between 2013 and 2015 including the International Urology Conference, the World Congress of Dermatology, the International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics World Congress.
“Vancouver is steadily acquiring a reputation as an international hub for medical research,” said Richard Yore, Director of Sales, Meetings and Conventions for Tourism Vancouver. “Local professionals are engaged in revolutionary studies, and hosting major conferences helps spread awareness of this important work while showcasing our city as a world-class destination.”
For many associations their first visit to a BestCities destination is not their last – the International Diabetes Federation has recently selected its fourth BestCities partner in Vancouver; in 2015 Melbourne will make it five for the Société Internationale d’Urologie; following the recent bid win by Houston, Human Genome Organisation now has three on the books and the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine has also chosen four BestCities partners.
BestCities’ Managing Director Jane Vong Holmes summarises: “We are certainly seeing an upward trend in the number of international medical associations who are choosing more than one BestCities partner to host their congress and we attribute this, in part to an increased recognition in the value of the quality, consistency and commitment offered by BestCities as well as the outstanding reputation of all our partners in this particular market.”