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Associations look to move away from capitals to second tier destinations

The Alliance of Brain Cities hosted 20 international associations at a breakfast on 21 May in Frankfurt during IMEX 2019.  Attendees included representatives from Rehabilitation International, International Water Resources Association and the World Association for Medical Law.


The breakfast debated a wide range of topics such as: 

  • All the delegates expressed strong support for second tier (non-capital cities) for their association events.  Primarily this is due to the perception that their event will be considered more important to the city, deliver a legacy that will be appreciated by the destination and above all else receive a more personal and high-quality level of service from destinations and venues.
  • The importance of transparency was highlighted by several attendees, who need to ensure that their destination partners not only offer value but demonstrate a corruption free, commercially credible offering that sits with their own ethics.
  • Sustainability that goes beyond the environment was also addressed as many of the attendees feel that social justice and economic stability is just as important as the environment when it comes to delivering a conference that adds value to the wider world. 

The Alliance of Brain Cities is made up of four Scandinavian cities:

  • Aarhus, Denmark
  • Espoo, Finland
  • Bergen, Norway
  • Uppsala, Sweden

David Gilbert from the International Institute of Non-destructive Testing said: “The breakfast was once again inspirational!  We don’t often get the opportunity to share challenges and experiences whilst at the same time learning about what the not so high profile destinations have to offer.  In the case of the Scandinavian options we heard about this morning, these facilities are substantial, putting them high on the list for careful consideration.”

The Alliance of Brain Cities spokesperson Miikka Valo from Visit Espoo commented: “It was fascinating to see the wide range of opinions and ideas expressed by the associations who joined us for this very successful breakfast.  In particular it is inspiring to see their desire to focus on second tier cities – we have an incredible offering, world leading research centres and technology and the ability to deliver top level events for associations of all sizes.”

Callum Clench from the International Water Resources Association concludes: “The Brainfast was a great way to get IMEX started, with a good breakfast and excellent networking opportunities focused on the Nordic Region.  Hearing about event opportunities in smaller cities and sharing experiences with other international associations was the best way to get my mind focused for the days.”