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New state-of-the-art conference centre opens for business at the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridge

An inspirational new space, taking its unique design from genetic research, provides cutting-edge facilities reflecting its position at the heart of a place of life-changing science

The Wellcome Genome Campus Conference Centre has undergone three years of development and this month throws open its doors to its new £21.9 million state-of-the-art facilities to host conferences, meetings and events in the biomedical sciences sector.

Blending stunning contemporary architecture with the existing Grade II* listed country house of Hinxton Hall, the new purpose-built Conference Centre provides an energising space in an idyllic setting. It also provides a one-stop-shop for events with on-site accommodation, restaurant and conference facilities.

Designed by architects Abell Nepp and ARUP engineers, the new Conference Centre boasts 1600m² of exhibition and breakout spaces, a 300 seat auditorium and a bar/café, all housed within an historic walled garden, overlooking a tranquil adjoining orchard.

The Conference Centre features:
• A dynamic new exhibition and breakout space under the elliptical steel and glass roof, located on the site of the original kitchen garden of Hinxton Hall. The imposing Georgian Hall, parts of which date back to 1748, also forms part of the Conference Centre complex. 

• This new collective multifunctional space provides a networking area connecting the 300 seat auditorium and other main meeting rooms. Its flexibility means it can host conferences, exhibitions, poster sessions and social events, often with several events taking place simultaneously.
• The auditorium has also been refurbished to include new seating with full-width tablets, power-to-seating for charging appliances and state-of-the-art audio-visual facilities.  
• The outer walls encasing the auditorium are decorated with a striking ‘tree of life’ motif, which explores the connections and differences between different life forms.  The design has been executed by Alistair McAuley of the award winning Glasgow–based Timorous Beasties, whose design studio is noted for their surreal and provocative textiles and wallpapers.

• A new high specification residential block, Mulberry Court, has expanded residential capacity from 72 to 136 bedrooms. All rooms are now either new, or have been completely refurbished and all offer en-suite facilities.
• Set in over 125 acres of parkland on the banks of the River Cam, the Conference Centre is an integral part of the Wellcome Genome Campus, which lies 20 minutes south of Cambridge city centre.  

As well as providing the benefits of a purpose-built Conference Centre, there is added value for those working in the biomedical science sector in hosting an event at the Wellcome Genome Campus, offering opportunities to engage with campus research and genomics in general.  

Conference Centre staff are well versed in the needs of the scientific community, as they already provide support to the Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences (ACSC)team, who organise and fund courses and conferences in cutting-edge biomedical science with a global reach. Over the last 5 years, the ACSC programme has attracted scientists from over 100 countries to the Campus, with around 3,500 scientists and clinicians attending its onsite events annually.

The Campus is also home to two world-renowned scientific organisations:
• The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute - a leader in genomic research,  focusing on understanding the role of genetics in health, medicine and disease
• The European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). EMBL-EBI provides freely available data from life science experiments, performs basic research in computational biology and offers an extensive user training programme, supporting researchers in academia and industry.

Alongside its scientific endeavours, the Campus also seeks to bridge the gap between the scientific community and the public, to inspire interest and stimulate discussion around genomics and genetics by placing it in a societal context.

The new Cultural Zone within the Conference Centre will provide an informal space for reflection and discussion on the social context and ethics of bio-medical research, through its temporary and permanent exhibitions. The Public Engagement team will stage cultural events in the zone showcasing exhibitions and multi-media installations, as well as seeing campus scientists working with a series of artists in residence, drawing inspiration from the Wellcome Genome Campus.

The Cultural Zone will enable the Public Engagement team to build on its already impressive science engagement activities. From acting as a source of information to the public wanting to find out more about genetics and genomics through its project; to offering an inspiring schools’ visits programme, which has been running for a decade and includes talks, hands-on activities campus tours and true encounters with campus scientists.

Director of Courses, Conferences and Public Engagement at the Campus, Dr Julian Rayner concludes: “Holding your conference or event at our newly developed Conference Centre will bring your organisation and delegates straight to the beating heart of the biomedical science community.”

“However, it is so much more than just a location for a conference or event. Whilst our new state-of-the-art facilities provide you with everything you need for a first-rate event, it is the inspiring science and events that take place on the wider campus that will add value to the experience for everyone that attends.” 

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