The Groningen Congress Alliance (GCA) includes the municipality of Groningen, the province of Groningen, the Groningen Conventions and the Groningen Congress Bureau. The common goal of these parties is to bring Groningen as a city and region to the attention of science conference organizers.
Groningen excels in transitional themes
“Groningen excels in important transitional issues,” says Willem de Kok, director of MartiniPlaza and chairman of GCA. “Groningen is an important driving force for, for example, renewable energy. We are even a European frontrunner in green hydrogen and can therefore use the term Hydrogen Valley. We are also at the forefront of healthcare. The presence of the Netherlands’ largest biobank Lifelines and one of the largest European chemistry laboratories for drug development underlines this. In addition, much research is being done into the circular food economy. In addition, this development is accelerated thanks to the best-developed digital infrastructure in the Netherlands. Various innovation start-ups are developing their innovative products here, but reputable companies such as IBM and Google also know what Groningen has to offer. ”
Energy, health and food
Transition themes play an important role in attracting knowledge conferences. These conferences are organized by international professional associations, which often seek a link between their area of expertise and the city or region where their conference is being held. “In Groningen, associations can enrich the power of the city and the region, exchange knowledge and work together on solutions to pressing global issues in energy, health and food,” said Barbara Risselada, GCA board member and marketing director. Groningen. “In addition, the market for knowledge conferences is interesting for Groningen, as a conference guest spends an average of 380 euros per visit on travel, accommodation, accommodation, catering and leisure activities. It means a big boost for the regional economy. ”
Before the outbreak of the corona pandemic, Groningen hosted an average of 75 conferences a year. This made Groningen the fifth largest conference destination in the Netherlands. “Now that the conference market is slowly recovering, it is important that GCA takes that market back and allows it to continue to grow,” said Wouter Olland, Groningen Convention manager. “It takes time, as there are at least two years between the first contact with a professional association and the time when the conference actually takes place. Our goal is to get on the list of professional associations and professional conference organizers (PCOs). And once Groningen has been chosen as a destination, Groningen Conventions and the Groningen Congress Bureau will support these associations with tailor-made advice. ”
During the congress on 16 June, it was urgent to invest structurally in Groningen as a congress city again underlined by the Groningen Congress Alliance. 70 participants from different hotels and (conference) venues, business clubs, Groningen municipality and Groningen province were present. The research agency BRO presented its results, which showed that Groningen definitely has the potential to attract international conferences.
Groningen therefore has everything in-house, but that message needs to be better across the stage, and there is a common task for the members of the JSA. Willem de Kok: “In order to invest fully in research and attract conferences in the coming years, we need a budget of 500,000 euros. It requires structural funding from both the public and private sectors. ”
This appeal proved to be a success as the Groningen Entrepreneurial Fund has entered into a three-year partnership and will support the Groningen Congress Alliance financially. “We now have to deal with money and deeds and continue to invest structurally, otherwise we will fall behind other cities in the Netherlands,” says Wouter Olland. Groninger is sober, but certainly also proud of their region. It is time that we show what Groningen has to offer! ”