Dates - 4th-6th July 2016
Venue - Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee
Delivery Partners - University of Dundee, Dundee City Region Convention Bureau
Attendance - 160 delegates from 29 countries
Impact on the local economy - £260,742
9th International Concrete Conference
In yet another compliment to the reputation of Dundee City Region Convention Bureau in globally promoting the area as Scotland's ‘go to’ conference destination, the organisers of the 9th International Concrete Conference, expressed their admiration and delight at the facilities made available to them during their two day gathering.
Given that the University of Dundee is a world leader in concrete technology, particularly involving advances in reliability resilience and sustainability, it is fitting that Dundee was once again chosen to host this prestigious gathering of international experts as it has done since the inaugural event.
The central theme of this year's conference was sharing research in the field of green concrete -including manufacturing concrete from recycled glass bottles.
The conference was organised by Professor Rod Jones, director of the University's Concrete Technology Unit (CTU) and his departmental colleague, senior lecturer Dr Moray Newlands.
The world class reputation of their department attracted delegates from a number of European countries as well as America, China, India and Malaysia, who met to discuss the latest innovations in concrete which are helping to deliver major building projects worldwide.
These include the £80m V&A Museum of Design currently under construction as the centre piece of the city's Waterfront Development. Holding the conference in Dundee gave delegates the unique opportunity to see first-hand how concrete technology, developed at the university over several decades, has revolutionised the world of building and design. As well as the CTU's involvement in the V&A, it played a major role in developing the technology for the new Forth Crossing.
Using the same attention to detail, with a willingness to be flexible and constantly adopting a 'no problem' attitude, the dedicated team from Dundee City Region Convention Bureau began planning for this conference, as they do for all similar events, well in advance.
This may seem an obvious tactic but as many organisations who try to put together conferences on their own have discovered to their cost, it is only by trusting committed professionals that a successful outcome is guaranteed.
First class transport links, including the addition of new direct flight routes to Dundee, such as the link with Stansted which opens up 150 destinations alone, coupled with the Amsterdam route which connects Dundee to one of the world's largest hub airports means the city is even more accessible than ever to international delegates.
Those who arrived via Edinburgh airport could take advantage of the free coach transfer service direct to the venue in Dundee providing a relaxing introduction to a city with which many were visiting for the first time.
Coupled with the high regard in which Dundee's Civil Engineering Department is held worldwide, the growing anticipation of the completion of the Waterfront Development, the warmth of local people and the smooth running of previous events, continues to make Dundee a magnet for conferences in this sector.
A comprehensive survey among delegates which looked at everything from the quality of transport links, venue facilities, accommodation, food and social activities, revealed a high level of satisfaction in all areas.
Asked how they rated the way in which problems were dealt with before and during the event 100% responded with 'very good' and 'good' ratings.
A total of 84 % of delegates questioned said that the topics discussed at the conference had encouraged them to continue collaborating with fellow attendees with whom they had never worked before.
Invited delegates also enjoyed a drinks reception at Discovery Point overlooking the site of the V&A where the main contractors for the project met to discuss the technical challenges involved in realising architect Kengo Kuma's vision. This was followed by conference dinner at Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa which was rated four star by the delegates for all its facilities. Situated on the quayside area of Dundee, the hotel is in the centre of the city's £1bn Waterfront redevelopment.
Beyond The Conference
Both delegates and organisers concluded that the successful conference was much more than a convivial talking shop but one which left a lasting legacy reinforcing Dundee University's Concrete Technology Unit as a world leader.
“This was a major event in the concrete calendar and highlights how concrete continues to be a vital part of our modern infrastructure,” said Professor Jones, chairman of the conference organising committee.
“The Forth Crossing and V&A Dundee are THE headline projects in Scotland at the moment and both have, at their heart, innovative uses of concrete that make these projects feasible.
“The V&A project is a major international beacon for outstanding concrete construction.
“White concrete, black concrete, built on a recycled concrete aggregate sub-base, complex formwork for double curved walls… its concrete technology heaven!”
Professor Jones and co-organiser Dr Newlands were keen to acknowledge what they described as the 'streamlined professionalism' of the team at Dundee City Region Convention Bureau (DCRCB).
Dr Newlands said; "When we tried to organise our early conferences on our own we were like swans gliding gracefully above the surface but paddling furiously underneath. But since the team at DCRCB came on board some years ago it's been plain sailing.
"Our conferences have always been held here because that's where the professionalism is - we are proud to describe Dundee as a global leader in the field of concrete technology and we are delighted to share our research with fellow researchers.
"But let's face it, if the external organisation was not as good as that provided by DCRCB then delegates might not be so keen to return each year.
"The fact that they do is a huge compliment to the people who work behind the scenes at the Bureau."
The organisers singled out the free provision of a shuttle coach services from Edinburgh Airport, which the majority of delegates use as 'invaluable'.
Dr Newlands said: "The last thing that delegates need, after travelling for 12 hours or more, is to land in a strange city wondering how to get to your final destination. This is a hassle free alternative"
The organisers’ optimism for the future was echoed by Lord Provost Bob Duncan in his speech of welcome.
He said: “Dundee is a city which is currently undergoing massive regeneration. The rise of the V&A Dundee on the banks of the Tay symbolises how concrete has a central place in our ambitious infrastructure improvements.
“The building, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, has attracted global attention for the innovative construction methods that are being used to transform his vision into reality.
"It is all the more fitting that Dundee will be home to this spectacular building, as the International Concrete Conference showcases the world-leading research that is ongoing in the city into concrete technology.
“Experts come to Dundee from around the globe to hear the latest developments and share their thinking on the challenges surrounding this building material.
“The University of Dundee event underlines the city’s growing reputation as a centre of academic excellence.”
BOX OUT QUOTES
"Dundee is a loving place and the university is strong in the field of concrete material"
"I appreciated the transfer [from Edinburgh airport], it was very useful and comfortable. Thanks"
"Thank you for providing the services. I was dropped at the entrance of the hotel and hence, the journey was comfortable and the arrangements were great."
"All aspects of the conference were very well organized and conducted. Kudos to Prof Rod and Dr Moray"
"Thanks for all help and understanding during the conference. All of the organizers were very open and helpful"
"Good setting and ease of transfer to a parallel session.”
"Width of subjects covered and a good atmosphere at the conference."
"Almost a family atmosphere and very good relaxed pace: a lot of time to communicate with colleagues and build up future collaborations.”
“Opening and closing keynotes were brilliant. Very good technical content. Good networking opportunities"