Champions of Sheffield’s conference scene gathered this week to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the city’s Ambassador Programme.
Professionals from the fields of academia, medicine, arts and science attended the Sheffield Conference Ambassador Annual Dinner in the University of Sheffield’s Firth Hall.
They heard that Sheffield’s conference market now generates £113m for the city and the ambassador programme alone has brought in events valued close to £30m to the local economy over the last six years.
The programme is run by Marketing Sheffield (part of Sheffield City Council), which encourages the city’s leading lights to bring their industry’s best meetings to Sheffield.
The headline speaker at the dinner was Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.
Ambassadors Matthew Malek, lecturer in experimental particle physics at the University of Sheffield, and Marta Cohen, consultant paediatric pathologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, both regular promoters of the programme, also gave talks.
Malek said: “As a particle physicist I have worked on projects all over the world since leaving New York City, but I now plan to stay in Sheffield. I really enjoy bringing people to Sheffield. Our modest reputation doesn’t always reflect how good we are so I love being able to bring my contacts from around the world here and show them how great Sheffield is.”
David Sanders, consultant gastroenterologist and professor of gastroenterology, is one of Sheffield’s most prolific conference ambassadors. His Sheffield Gastroenterology Symposium is the biggest of its kind and regularly welcomes upwards of 200 delegates to the city.
“Conferences are to research what the cinema is to books – a quick and easy way of absorbing a lot of information in an engaging way and Sheffield is a fantastic venue for this,” said Sanders.
“The Sheffield Ambassador Programme gives you a great insight into Sheffield beyond your hospital and what the aspirations are of the city. I’ve found it so useful, I’ve introduced a number of other people.”
Emma France of Marketing Sheffield added: “It’s easy to forget the impact conferencing has on Sheffield as we work year-round to support our ambassadors in bringing some incredible events to the city. But these figures show just important they are to our local economy.
“And it’s not just the big event venues and hotels that benefit, as there’s often lots of fringe activity around these type of association events. A great example is the recent BOAFAS conference where, in addition to the main event at Sheffield City Hall, the organisers also hired out the whole top floor restaurant of The Botanist, Sheffield.”
Image caption: (L-R): Marta Cohen; Marcus du Sautoy; Gemma Tissington of Marketing Sheffield; Edward Highfield, director of city growth; and Gavin Brown, head of commercial services at the University of Sheffield