In a submission to the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board’s research and innovation strategy this week, the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) outlined its view that medical research relies on the collaboration between researchers and academics that takes place at international conventions and exhibitions.
The advisory board is reviewing the priorities for the first two years of grants available through the newly-established Medical Research Future Fund and setting the overall strategy for medical research in Australia over the next five years.
The Chief Executive Officer of the AACB, Andrew Hiebl, said that the association’s submission drew the advisory board’s attention to the role business events play in bringing medical researchers together. “Meetings lead to collaboration, which in turn leads to co-publications and increased numbers of citations in medical journals, and ultimately to medical breakthroughs.
“Associated exhibitions enable opportunities for commercialisation by bringing together scientists and researchers with private enterprise and investors,” said Mr Hiebl.
“As Europe and North America’s share of medical research has declined, so too has Australia’s international scientific collaboration. Yet the rise of Asian medical research budgets will lead to greater opportunities for Australia to host major medical conventions that will spark the collaboration between researchers, academics and business within the region.”
According to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), medical sciences has been the most popular subject matter of international association meetings over the last 50 years, with 17.2 per cent of all meetings over the five years to 2012. By this measure Australia fares well, with AACB’s forward calendar highlighting that almost one third of all international business events attracted to Australia by convention bureaux are medical-related.
“But our share of hosting international association meetings is in decline, slipping from 2.3 per cent in 2014 to 2 per cent in 2015. In contrast, ICCA reports show that the total number of these international events has grown by 5 per cent over the same period. As such, our global rankings have fallen from ninth a decade ago to 15th in 2015.”
“We made the point clearly in our submission that the efforts of the Department of Health in administering the Medical Research Future Fund need to be complimented by other arms of government supporting the attraction of conventions to Australia.”
“If we do not reverse our decline in hosting international conventions and their delegates, Australia will not maximise its medical research investment, making it less effective than it ought to be,” said Mr Hiebl.