Dates - 27th-29th July 2016
Venue - Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee
Delivery Partners - University of Dundee, Abertay University, Dundee City Region Convention Bureau
Attendance - 100 delegates from 22 countries
Impact on the local economy - £122,223
2nd International Conference on Clinical Sciences and Drug Discovery
Dundee City Region Convention Bureau’s 'no problem' attitude, coupled with the team's organisational services tailored to suit individual conferences rather than a one size fits all policy, was key in attracting a global gathering of eminent scientists to the California-based United Scientific Group's 2nd International Conference on Clinical Sciences and Drug Discovery (CSDD2016).
The group's mission statement is to turn academic research into reality and an indication of the high regard in which it is held by the international scientific community is in the worldwide reputation of those who took part in the Dundee gathering.
They included acclaimed biochemist Professor Sir Philip Cohen, of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee who is routinely described as one of the world's top scientists. He is also credited with persuading some of the world's best scientists to re locate to the city and in the last decade Sir Philip and his colleagues have secured £35m worth of funding to bring, and keep, them in the city.
For Dundee City Region Convention Bureau's specialist staff, long lead time planning is key - an ethos which applies to each event which they co-ordinate, whether local or international.
CSDD2016 was organised in conjunction with a local committee chaired by Prof Nikolai Zhelev, professor of medical biotechnology at Abertay University, and a long standing Pathfinder. The bureau’s pathfinders programme brings together the city’s academics and researchers to support and enable them to bring their association conferences to Dundee.
The committee and the team from DCRCB had big boots to fill. United Scientific Group's most recent similar event was held in Baltimore, a city with a population of almost four times that of Dundee and with an envious reputation as a world class conference centre.
But a post conference survey among delegates showed that Dundee was more than capable of taking on larger rivals with attendees constantly giving the organisation very high satisfaction ratings over the three day event.
The Amsterdam flight route was cited by many as a key attractor for delegates to the 2016 Dundee event. Dundee’s connectivity to one of the world's largest hub airports means the city is even more accessible to international delegates.
And, making life even easier for the international speakers and delegates attending CSDD2016 who arrived via Edinburgh Airport, the team at Dundee City Region Convention Bureau provided a free coach transfer service direct to the venue providing a relaxing introduction to a city which many were visiting for the first time as part of the bid support for international meetings. It was used by 86 per cent of delegates; 75 per cent of whom rated it ' very good.'
Dundee was a perfect fit for CSDD2016, given the city's reputation as a world centre of biotechnology excellence. Thanks to the work of scientists like Sir Philip Cohen and Prof Nikolai Zhelev, a large number of biotech companies have been encouraged to move to Dundee, fuelling an economic regeneration which represents 15 per cent of the local economy. Leading work at both of the city’s universities – including that of Prof Nikolai Zhelev, Paul Wyatt, Jim Bown, Phil Jones, Andrew Pannifer, Kimberley Bennet and Yusuf Deeni who spoke at the conference – continues to uphold this reputation for high-quality biotechnology research.
All of the delegates who took part in the survey said they would happily recommend Dundee as a conference venue in the future while 81 per cent said they would be delighted to return as tourists. In particular, delegates praised the pre-conference planning.
For the majority of the delegates however, in particular those from abroad, one of the highlights away from the hard work of the conference was a free afternoon guided walking tour of Dundee which included the £1bn Waterfront Development, the £80m V&A, the city's world famous Antarctic research vessel RRS Discovery and the world class laboratories of the School of Life Sciences in University of Dundee.
A night of Scottish country dancing at Bar One at Abertay University also proved hugely popular as did a well-attended drinks reception and civic dinner hosted by Lord Provost Bob Duncan.
In his speech of welcome he said, “This prestigious conference provides an opportunity for multidisciplinary collaboration between a range of clinical and scientific professionals along with public health professionals, pharmaceutical scientists and primary care physicians.
“I am sure the discussions on important international breakthroughs in the fields of clinical sciences and drug discovery will be very informative and assist in advances across the world.
“Dundee has a long history and association with science, the science community and research. Today the work of the both our Universities are an important contemporary example of the city’s contribution to medical research.
“We also have a very well respected Science Centre in the city that is introducing the public to science learning, and helping scientists to communicate their ideas to a wider audience.
“Science, scientists and scientific research combine to make an important contribution to Dundee as a city and to its reputation internationally for research and academic achievement.”
Beyond the conference
Conference Chairman Professor Nikolai Zhelev is a veteran of the international circuit spending several weeks every year sharing his research work with senior colleagues and as such is well placed to give his views on the legacy of CSDD2016.
He said: "The conference was a wonderful opportunity for students to learn from, network with and above all be inspired by speakers of the highest calibre from all over the world. This is by far the most efficient way of allowing this to happen - can you imagine how difficult it would be if students, early career researchers and so on had to travel to meet such people? It just couldn't be done.
"The ideas and working relationships which began with this conference mean that in future some of who were this year's student delegates will be inspired to become the next generation of Dundee-based scientists. They will go on to apply for funding which in turn will bring income and research excellence to the City".
Professor Zhelev also spoke warmly of the welcoming atmosphere and social events arranged by Dundee City Region Convention Bureau.
He said: "If you attend conferences in, say Washington as I have several times, it’s a case of airport to airport, the conference centre, the delivery of speeches and back home with little time for culture. This was what made Dundee different - this was not a dry conference - in every sense - and I know that our delegates really appreciated the guided tours, the country dancing and the civic reception. They felt very welcome."
He added: "We would also like to thank the invaluable work from team at DCRCB-they really are experts and their help was priceless.
"If we had tried to organise it ourselves it would like organising a wedding - but one with six brides and six bridegrooms. In other words - impossible".
BOX OUT QUOTES
"Scottish country dancing was memorable"
"I enjoyed the outreach from the Dundee community, the enthusiasm of the student helpers and the friendliness of the atmosphere"
"Entertainment was excellent and the students were great"
"I cannot praise your student staff/volunteers enough. It was a delight to be among such enthusiastic and genuinely interested and helpful young aspiring scientists"
"The airport transfers were absolutely a great value, and an excellent way to meet conferees"
"I was very impressed by the excellent and enthusiastic student staff volunteers"