Dates - 30 June -1 July 2016
Venue - Apex City Quay Hotel, Dundee
Delivery Partners - University of Dundee, Dundee City Region Convention Bureau
Attendance - 50 delegates (by invitation only) from 15 countries
Impact on the local economy - £40,741
EUROCleftNet Research Conference
Specially invited experts in cleft lip and palate care from across Europe, America and Canada were welcomed by The University of Dundee's Dental School when the city played host to EUROCleftNet Research Conference 2016: Genetics, Environment and Prevention.
The two-day conference brought together leading members of EUROCleftNet, a Research Networking Programme for orofacial clefts research, prevention and treatment, funded by the European Science Foundation.
The conference was organised by Professor Peter Mossey, Professor of Craniofacial Development and Associate Dean for Research at Dundee University Dental School. Professor Mossey is a long standing Pathfinder. The bureau’s pathfinder programme brings together the city’s academics and researchers to support and enable them to bring their association conferences to Dundee. Professor Mossey is experienced in organising conferences in Dundee as he was also instrumental in securing and organising the British Society for Oral and Dental Research BSODR conference for 350 delegates in 2004.
The highly regarded organisation works with clinicians, scientists, parents and research users to improve the quality of care for infants born with cleft lip and palate, address inequalities in care across Europe, and improve knowledge of genetic and environmental risk factors with a view toward primary prevention.
The conference, supported by Dundee City Region Convention Bureau (DCRCB) was organised by the school's EUROCleftNet programme coordinator Bill Slater.
Although the attendance of just fifty invitation-only delegates made it one of the smaller events supported by DCRCB, the majority of those who took part are at the very highest level of expertise in their field and had worked closely with the school for more than fifteen years.
Mr Slater was keen to acknowledge the invaluable help given by the team at Dundee City Region Convention Bureau. In particular he singled out the provision of free transfer coaches which brought the delegates from Edinburgh Airport to the venue in Dundee.
He said: "This service was truly invaluable because it instantly removed any hassle for our delegates and shows that Dundee can compete with larger cities when it comes to conferences”.
Professor Mossey, who attends several international conferences each year is well placed to judge the success of the Dundee event.
"The conference itself was an outstanding success. Previously, I used to get a bit nervous about conferences being held in Dundee because of the airport links. As a delegate arriving in Edinburgh it could be frustrating knowing that you still have to get to Dundee. The addition of new direct flight routes to Dundee including a link with Stansted which opens up 150 destinations alone, along with the Amsterdam route which connects us to one of the world’s largest hub airports means the city is now well connected internationally. However, Dundee City Region Convention Bureau’s provision of free transfer buses from Edinburgh also made it easy to attend, and that was something that all the delegates commented on.”
Dundee has a proud history of offering delegates a special welcome and delegates were invited to attend a civic dinner in the McManus Gallery. Lord Provost, Councillor Bob Duncan told delegates: "I believe that learning, teaching and research are what lies at the soul of this city. The links between the University of Dundee and the city at many different levels are strong and can be traced back to the 19th century.
"Now, with a campus that sits at the heart of Dundee and world class facilities within walking distance of coffee shops, cafes and culture, the university is an integral part of the vibrant city whose name it bears. Students, researchers and staff from all corners of the globe make Dundee their home and enliven every aspect of living here."
The conference venue, The Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa, was given a four-star rating in the delegate survey with the majority voting it' very good' for all its facilities. Situated on the quayside area of Dundee, the hotel is at the centre of the city’s £1billion Waterfront redevelopment.
For most of the delegates it was their first time in Dundee and a survey taken after the event revealed a high degree of satisfaction with all aspects of behind the scenes activity.
One delegate said: "I liked the small size of the conference which allowed more intimate discussions with attendees."
Another commented: "Excellent organisation - far superior to many major international conferences I have attended."
An impressive 87 per cent of those who responded rated the organisation leading up to the event as 'very good' while 97 per cent awarded a similar rating for organisation during the two days of the conference itself. Transport links to and from the venue were also highly praised.
Encouragingly, and underlining the legacy of such events, 79 per cent of those who replied recommended the city as a conference venue while 72 per cent of delegates said they would return to Dundee for a leisure visit.
In a final imaginative gesture, and trading on the city's Jute, Jam and Journalism reputation, each delegate received a goodie bag-woven from jute of course-whose contents included a selection of local jams and a copy of The Beano!
Beyond The Conference
Mr Slater said: "For us at the Dental School the undoubted legacy of the conference is continuing to work together to move towards standardising and harmonising the work we already do in the area of cleft lip and palate care, prevention and education here in the UK and throughout Europe. We feel that conferences like ours ultimately help transform lives - that's something we, and of course the delegates, feel very passionate about."
Professor Peter Mossey, Professor of Craniofacial Development and Associate Dean for Research at Dundee University Dental School, highlighted the practical legacy of the conference, saying that ongoing dialogue with conference delegates has already resulted in preparation of future research proposals to continue and sustain successful collaborations.
This is facilitated by the fact that Dundee Dental School, which celebrates its centenary this year, is the only one in the world to be designated by the World Health Organisation as a collaborative centre in the field of craniofacial research, he said: "I believe the most important legacy to come out of this conference is that we are now moving rapidly into the field of prevention and all our discussions, papers and workshops reflect that as we continue our work as a centre for excellence in this field."
He added: "It's also worth pointing out that a number of our delegates were early career researchers who worked alongside senior colleagues and that can only be good for the future. The conference, in many ways, was just the start."
"The legacy for the city I think is that the delegates will spread the word of what we have to offer in terms of art and culture as well as scientific excellence, both now and in the future when our Waterfront development and the V&A are complete."
BOX OUT QUOTES
"I really liked the conference! The organisation was perfect."
"Very pleasant venue on the Dundee waterfront which is full of history and is modern had lovely walks throughout the city and especially enjoyed our dinner party at the art museum-- a wonderful opportunity to grasp some of the history of Dundee and Scotland via the artwork. The dinner provided a relaxing time to get to know colleagues old and new."
"I would suggest another category (For the organisation) beyond very good -- ' excellent' ".
"Friendly atmosphere and delegates of international repute."
"The reception was very enjoyable, the McManus Gallery was a beautiful venue, and the address by the Lord Provost was most welcoming of the group. This event was absolutely outstanding!"