The evening provided ambassadors with the opportunity to hear from the Minister first hand about the support available to secure international congress business for Edinburgh and Scotland and recognition by the Minister of the importance of business tourism to the Scottish economy.
Ambassadors were particularly pleased to hear about the availability of a government fund for congress bids, subject to a successful application process with match-funding criteria. The Minister advised that the fund had been estimated to deliver a valuable £136m investment return in terms of the associated inward investment and spend per head by delegates returning to Scotland for business or leisure at a later stage.
It was clear that the Minister was extremely knowledgeable on all matters relating specifically to the growth of the biotechnology industry in Scotland, particularly in Edinburgh pointing out that Scottish universities are ranked 4th/5th in the world’s top 100 universities in terms of R&D in the field. Ambassadors were keen to express common concerns relating to immigration that require international students to depart the UK 3 months after graduation. Ambassadors commented on the need to find strategies to retain fledgling expertise to skill a future workforce ready to translate R&D to practical applications and increase biotechnology productivity. The Minister agreed to look at this issue.
Following the Meeting, ambassadors were transferred to the EICC for a show-round of the Centre, to meet newly appointed CEO Marshall Dallas and to hear from TFI Meeting Point’s Michael Foreman about TFI’s value proposition. Foreman spoke on how TFI is engaging with association ambassadors on the commercial relevance of a congress. He emphasised the importance of a congress as a showcase to potential inward investors and as a platform to demonstrate local academic acumen to attract future international students. Leveraging these points to secure future congress business and create economic growth for the destination is vital he said.
After, the EICC hosted a delicious autumn themed dinner created by in-house caterers Leith’s accompanied by some very fine and quaffable wines.
This provided a truly worthwhile opportunity for Edinburgh’s congress professionals to engage with the City’s biotechnology community and hear how the Scottish Parliament is working to support ambassadors win their congress bids.