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A young startup company in Gothenburg has developed an easy-to-use method for detecting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The idea was born when two young researchers met and decided to start a joint business.

Kristina Lagerstedt and Susanne Staaf started 1928 Diagnostics to fight resistant bacteria

Working in a partnership produces stronger and better results than working individually. That was the reasoning that led Kristina Lagerstedt and Susanne Staaf to start 1928 Diagnostics. They met when they were both conducting research and working for a large pharmaceutical company in Gothenburg. The two colleagues got on so well that they decided to start a business venture.
“How difficult can that be?” says Kristina, laughing. She laughs a lot during our interview at Stena Center at Chalmers University of Technology, where many startup companies rent premises and gain inspiration from each other.

She says it helps when you know it’s okay to make mistakes – a mentality that is perhaps more prevalent in Gothenburg than in many other places.
“But of course you’re fantastic at doing things right,” interjects Susanne.
Molecular biology was really flourishing at the time when they were both research students. There was a widespread feeling in the pharmaceutical company that anything was possible. They frequently found themselves talking over dinner about what makes a successful enterprise and realised that many successful entrepreneurs work and run joint ventures with friends.
“Around this time, we decided to set up business together. The next step was to come up with an idea or a project,” says Kristina.

They aired their ideas with entrepreneur friends, who were impressed by their enthusiasm but couldn’t see a core concept. Then an idea emerged that was so clear it nearly sold itself. This is how they describe the company on their website:
“1928 Diagnostics is a Swedish company based in Gothenburg with strong ties to both the tech and science community, bridging knowledge from biology and medicine into software development. Our mission is to use technology to build important services that can be used in healthcare to address the growing and alarming problem of antimicrobial resistance. Sweden is our home base, but we are operating globally, and look forward to meeting you wherever our paths will cross. Join us in the fight against antibiotic resistance.”

When Sir Alexander Fleming won the 1945 Nobel Prize for discovering antibiotics (in 1928), he warned the world about the risks of antibiotic misuse. “We will enter a post-antibiotic era with grave consequences,” he cautioned. Over 70 years later, around 33,000 Europeans die every year from antibiotic resistance. This problem could become deadlier than cancer by 2050.

And this is where the business idea comes in that appeals to investors and employees alike.
“We realised that by creating a cloud-based software that enables faster analysis of bacteria, we could offer an intelligent method for infection control. You could call it smart infection tracking,” says Susanne.
The business has been quick to take off. Some experts believe antibiotic resistance is as great a threat to humanity as climate change or lack of clean water. Kristina and Susanne visited hospitals to confirm the need for their product. Since then, they’ve had no problem raising venture capital and have made a smooth transition from being researchers to entrepreneurs.
“Our prior experience of pharmaceuticals prepared us well. It taught us that things take time and to think globally from the outset. Antibiotic resistance is a global health problem that calls for wise initiatives that are globally effective.

“In urban areas such as Manhattan, 60 percent of bacteria are multi-resistant, and the figure in Mediterranean countries is 35 percent. In poor countries that lack clean water and hand-washing facilities, colistin-resistant bacteria spread like wildfire. When this happens, there is a thousandfold increase in the risk of not being able to treat them with antibiotics.”
Kristina believes that although the situation is critical, it can be remedied.

“But this requires greater collaboration between healthcare, enterprise, the WHO, national authorities and multinational corporations. It’s not just the healthcare sector and authorities that need to address the issue of antibiotic resistance; companies do as well.
“More and more major companies are opting to allocate profits for beneficial causes. Social responsibility is becoming an increasingly important part of companies’ business concept and is key in recruiting young people. They are much more concerned about ethics and beneficial causes.”

Copyright: Ulrica Segersten (text), Samuel Unéus (photo)

This article is an excerpt from “Magasin Göteborg”. To read the entire Magazine (in Swedish) click here.

Anna Hylander, Project Manager Göteborg & Co Möten/Gothenburg Convention Bureau. Photo: Linda Nordberg/Göteborg & Co

Anna Hylander is one of the people who was closely involved in preparations for the Associations World Congress & Expo (AWC) and was also at the congress, when almost 500 international visitors gathered at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in April. The congress was backed by the Association of Association Executives (AAE).

Hi Anna, how did the event work out?
“Really well, nearly 500 delegates from all over the world took part and we got excellent feedback afterwards.”

What was the most enjoyable part of the process?
“All the international contacts and making plans to host the congress. Linking together all the different contributors, from politicians and people in research and the visitor industry, to specially invited guests and speakers, and of course the association’s team.
“It was also good to be able to show how a meeting can be organised sustainably, getting environmental certification for the entire congress and sharing our knowledge by contributing local expertise to the programme.”

Gothenburg Convention Bureau is not usually involved in organising meetings, why was this the case for AWC?
“Yes, that’s right. Normally we provide support during all the stages that are needed to bring a congress to Gothenburg. That can involve strategies, application documents, marketing materials, valuable contacts in the city, advice and information.
“But AWC was a strategic initiative that also required active hosting on our part. It is a step in raising awareness of Gothenburg as a meeting destination and showing off the city to the people who decide where international congresses are held. And we were successful in that.”

What was the best part of the congress?
“The positive feedback about the programme. And that we managed to get prominent local figures as speakers, for example from Volvo Car Group and Nobel Media. It also gave us the chance to showcase local innovations, in medical technology and bio-printing for example, and to feature choir singing as a link to the European Choir Games.
“There were already a lot of people in the city when AWC began, as it coincided with the end of EuroHorse. So the city was buzzing with lots of activity when the delegates got here.”

How does it feel now it’s all over?
“Brilliant! Everyone is so pleased with the experience and that we hosted it successfully. The food was great and the staff were praised by everyone. Especially at the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre / Gothia Towers and when the celebrity chefs turned up and surprised everyone at the congress dinner at Kajskjul 8 on behalf of Gothenburg Restaurant Association and ‘Taste of Gothenburg’.”
“There were so many delegates who wanted to learn more about Gothenburg and stayed an extra day to join the Destination Day we organised, with visits to AstraZeneca in Mölndal, Lindholmen Science Park and the new centre for artificial intelligence.”

What do you hope visitors took home from the congress?
“Naturally I hope they feel that it was the best programme ever. I also hope they got a positive image of Gothenburg as a sustainable meeting destination and feel inspired to come to future meetings and congresses, whether they are held here or somewhere else in the world. But of course I hope that organisers see us as a natural choice for upcoming congresses.”

 

Every year Gothenburg Convention Bureau attends a variety of trade fairs and congresses to gather business intelligence, build relationships and market Gothenburg as a city of meetings. In May, Gothenburg Convention Bureau attended the annual international IMEX trade fair in Frankfurt along with local partners and the Swedish Network of Convention Bureaus.

As well as being an opportunity to meet new and existing customers, the annual international IMEX trade fair in Frankfurt in May was a chance to get feedback on the Association World Congress & Expo, which was held in April and was attended by many of the delegates at the fair. Gothenburg received some very positive feedback from customers, as a city of meetings.

Eva Ahlm Tobisson, from Gothenburg Convention Bureau, and Maria Thylén, from the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, gave a well-attended talk about Gothenburg at IMEX.
“It was great to see so many people interested in Gothenburg as a city of meetings. People are really opening their eyes and realising the benefits of arranging meetings here: you can walk everywhere, competitive pricing, venues, service level, and not least our collaboration with academia and industry,” says Eva Ahlm Tobisson, project manager for Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

Maria Thylén, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, and Eva Ahlm Tobisson, Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

The city’s ranking as a leading global destination for sustainable meetings in the ICCA Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) is being used to drive the meetings industry in a more sustainable direction, and at the same time raise Gothenburg’s profile as a city of meetings. At the fair, Göteborg & Co’s head of sustainability, Katarina Thorstensson, held a popular workshop for the international meetings industry on Gothenburg’s sustainability initiatives. Guy Bigwood, initiator behind the GDS-Index, also contributed during the workshop.

Guy Bigwood, from the GDS Index, and Katarina Thorstensson, from Göteborg & Co, talk about sustainability initiatives.

IMEX attracts more than 5,000 meeting organisers from all over the world, and because this is one of the key events for bringing meetings to the city, we attend every year.

Here you can see which other events Gothenburg Convention Bureau will be attending during the year.

Before the age of 30, Lisa Emelia Svensson had already gained a PhD and landed a top job in New York. Today her stellar career has led her all the way to the United Nations, where she is Global Director for Oceans. Her favourite place is a small island in the West Sweden Archipelago.

Lisa Emelia Svensson at her favourite island, Käringön.

Lisa’s career path has been unusually linear. But it wasn’t mapped out like this from the outset. Although she comes from an enterprising family, she grew up far from the world of big business and politics.” She and her four siblings were raised in Bohuslän in West Sweden, and their lives centred more around the sea than the house.
“My father spent a lot of time at sea and encouraged us to do the same. I learned to love the sea and the archipelago from an early age. It determined how I saw the world. We had the vast sea in front of us, and beyond it was the rest of the world – which I became very curious to explore.

After graduating from the Gothenburg School of Business, Economics and Law, Lisa applied to the Swedish Trade Council for an international trainee position. She landed the job and was posted in New York.
“I loved being there. People say big cities are stressful, but for me it was the opposite. My first feeling was one of calm. The rest of the world was moving, and I could stand still in the midst of it.”

After a time in New York, she returned to Sweden to start the internship programme of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. This was followed by work at the Swedish Embassy in Washington and as a trade negotiator at the European Commission in Brussels. Lisa also spent a year as Diplomat-in-Residence at John Hopkins University, where she also finished her doctoral dissertation as well as a book on climate change.

Käringön is located north of Gothenburg with the open sea just outside.

Back in Sweden, she started working as Ambassador for Sustainable Enterprise.
“At that time, sustainability and CSR were not yet strongly established. It wasn’t unusual for people in prominent business positions to say that they were only interested in results. Today nobody would claim that companies don’t have a strong responsibility for sustainability.”

Many companies today are taking important initiatives to promote these issues. For example, Lisa points out that Volvo has transitioned from primarily selling cars to focusing more on how to meet people’s mobility needs. Volvo is also phasing out disposable parts and aims for 25% recycled plastics in all Volvo cars from 2025.
“The great added value of this is that it creates a pressure in the market and can encourage more companies to use recycled plastic for other types of production. This can be a way of initiating and driving change. It is crucial to our future that more companies set this type of example.”

Sustainability has been Lisa’s primary focus area since she became Ambassador for Sustainable Enterprise. Her work has focused particularly on matters regarding the sea.
“There’s something about the sea that always attracts me. I don’t know what it is; maybe I’ve got salt in my veins! There’s something out there in the waves that never stops beckoning me. However, the sea is endangered and there is a widespread lack of knowledge on how to manage and utilise its resources sustainably.”

Two years ago, the United Nations called to offer her the post of Global Director of Oceans at the UN Environment Office. She accepted without hesitation. Since then her office has been in Nairobi, Kenya.
“Using the United Nations Environment Programme as a platform for promoting marine issues seemed like a natural path forward. My greatest motivating force has always been curiosity and an urge to explore and understand new contexts. And now that I’ve gained an understanding of this context, I’ll be happy to move on to new challenges.”Her work involves a lot of travel and she’s seen many exotic places across the globe. But deep in her heart there’s always one place she’d rather be.

“The best thing in life is nature. Walking barefoot on rocky cliffs is what gives me energy. Even if I’m on the most beautiful exotic island in the world, there’s no place I’d rather be than a wet, stony cliff in Bohuslän or outside my house on the island of Käringön. That’s bliss for me.”

Working with sustainability and being Global Director for Oceans is no easy job. Eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea every year. If people continue to use the sea as a dumping ground at this rate, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050.
“So much stuff just gets pumped into the sea. People think it will just disappear,” says Lisa. “But of course it won’t. There is a strong link between the ocean and climate change. The world’s oceans absorb nearly a third of our carbon emissions, and seaweed beds bind carbon.”

Half of the carbon stored in living organisms is in the sea. The sea is crucial to our survival, but the overall context is not explained and communicated in a way that decision-makers and the public can easily grasp.
However, she points out that there’s hope. Awareness about climate and sustainability has steadily increased, and more and more individuals are making conscious and climate-friendly choices.
“We need to find creative systemic solutions that are based on science. Even if people stop buying plastic bags at the supermarket, a systemic solution is needed to bring about real changes. And that’s what we’ve got to find.”

Copyright: Magnus Carlsson (text), Katja Ragnstam (photo)

This article is an excerpt from “Magasin Göteborg”. To read the entire magazine (in Swedish) click here.

For the first time ever, Sweden will be organizing a Champions League final. This was decided by the UEFA Executive Committee when they appointed Gothenburg as host for the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final 2021.

Photo: Per Pixel Petersson

– This is a milestone in Swedish football history. As of this year, the Women’s Champions League final is a separate event, and the final played in Budapest in May showed the positive progress for women’s football, says Swedish Football Association’s chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson.

– Gothenburg will once again host a major sporting event and the fact that it’s about women’s football makes us extra happy. We are also looking forward to paying attention to Gothenburg’s 400th anniversary with the help of the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final 2021, says Magnus Hallberg Director of Events at Göteborg & Co.

The final will be played in May 2021 at Gamla Ullevi, the Swedish women’s football national arena.

The latest issue of Magasin Göteborg was distributed as a supplement of Dagens Industri newspaper on 15 May. The supplement focuses on innovative and modern aspects of Gothenburg as well as the latest news and trends from the city. “Caring intelligence” is the main theme of this year’s Magasin Göteborg.

Magasin Göteborg Photo: Katja Ragnstam

“A lot is going on in Gothenburg right now. New ideas are hatching, opportunities are everywhere and there’s a lot of interest in the city. More and more people are discovering Gothenburg as an attractive city to work in, live in and visit. A foreign journalist recently described Gothenburg as a ‘pocket-sized metropolis’. That’s quite an accurate description of this city and region which we’re so fond of,” says Lennart Johansson, Director of the Trade & Industry Group at Göteborg & Co.

The theme of this year’s issue of Magasin Göteborg is “Caring intelligence”. Artificial intelligence and urban development require an understanding of smart new ways of living and working, but it’s also crucial to use these resources carefully to allow as many people as possible to enjoy all the things that make Gothenburg so attractive. Topics covered in the magazine include use of 3-D printing technology to create human body parts, how Gothenburg landed a Nobel prize, this summer’s choral invasion and the six companies to watch right now. You can also read about how a man from Borås helped to design Dubai, discover the street fashion from Gothenburg that’s conquering the world and find out about this year’s exciting new development at Landvetter airport.

The Magasin Gothenburg supplement is published in collaboration with Göteborg & Co’s Trade & Industry Group and Business Region Göteborg. Magasin Göteborg is being distributed in Gothenburg for the eighth consecutive year, and is one the Dagens Industri newspaper’s most popular supplements.

Read Magasin Göteborg online here and give us your feedback at #magasinGBG

 

Aniara, a film screened inside coffins during the Göteborg Film Festival in January this year, has generated worldwide media attention. This unconventional film experience challenged the traditional way of viewing movies and reached 500 million people through various media.

Photo: Studio Mint

“We’re delighted with the worldwide impact of the World’s Most Claustrophobic Cinema, not least in the USA where several hundred articles have been published about the screenings. It’s great to know that articles about Gothenburg and the screenings have appeared in 140 countries. Having our completely self-produced event spotlighted by the likes of Perez Hilton, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and The Times is extremely encouraging and bodes well for the festival’s future development,” says Andreas Degerhammar, Communications Manager, Göteborg Film Festival.

During the Göteborg Film Festival, an expectant public was challenged with an extraordinary movie experience. Each viewer watched the movie in isolation while enclosed in a coffin. The unusual movie concept generated huge international media interest and was publicised on TV, radio, in newspapers and in social media. The claustrophobic screening was mentioned in over 500 articles and social media posts and shared in more than 100 countries There were frequent tweets on the launch day, and on the first day one tweet was aired every three seconds. There is no doubt about the huge interest generated by the movie experience, and all 28 screenings quickly sold out.

The partnership between the Göteborg Film Festival and Göteborg & Co’s Trade and Industry Group resulted in a larger international press following, which included The New Yorker, Variety, Cineuropa and the Telegraph.

The Göteborg Film Festival is a non-profit association. Their annual film festival runs for ten days starting in the third week of January, showing films from all over the world at cinemas around Gothenburg. This year the Göteborg Film Festival was nominated for Guldägget (The Golden Egg Award), The One Show and The Webby Awards. See more information here about the Göteborg Film Festival.

 

 

Gothenburg Tech Week took place in Gothenburg on 6–11 May 2019, when tech and startup events were held all around Gothenburg. This is the fifth consecutive year that Gothenburg Tech Week was carried out. The event is designed to raise awareness about Gothenburg’s tech and startup scene and showcase Gothenburg as a city of enterprise.

Photo: Wesley Overclift

“Gothenburg Tech Week is finally here, and we’re seeing the results of months of hard work. We were quite nervous on Monday morning, but also very excited! The week got off to a fabulous start and the atmosphere is buzzing. This year there are 32 events spread out over the week and we’ve put together the best line-up ever, which we’re really proud about. Many organisations have expressed interest in taking part and there have been many visitors, which we’re delighted about. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week, which will be packed with fascinating events and new meetings,” says Malin Kjällström, organiser of the Gothenburg Tech Week.

The week’s programme includes inspiring lectures by distinguished speakers such as Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sweden’s former Prime Minister, Lena Apler, entrepreneur and founder of Collector Bank AB, and Erik Gatenholm, CEO of Cellink AB, to mention just a few. There will also be workshops, hacks and launches relating to technology, startups and enterprise at various venues around Gothenburg. All the events are free of charge and open to everyone. See the full programme here.

Gothenburg Tech Week is based on a partnership between Göteborg & Co’s Trade & Industry Group and Region Västra Götaland. The Trade & Industry Group is a partner of Gothenburg Tech Week, and aims to raise the profile of Gothenburg’s tech and startup scene. Gothenburg Tech Week is a non-profit organisation founded to support Gothenburg’s entrepreneurs and startup companies by organising and coordinating a week-long event in May each year.

At the Skarpt Läge job fair in February, young adults aged 18 to 30 met with employers with one hope in mind: to leave the venue with a job. Two months later, 184 of the job seekers had found employment as a direct result of the fair. Today, Skarpt Läge is more than a job fair; it’s an important meeting place for forging partnerships.

Skarpt Läge job fair. Photo: Fredrik Karlsson/Skarpt Läge

“Today, Skarpt Läge isn’t just a job fair, it’s a meeting place that generates many synergy effects. For instance, this year we collaborated with Hvitfeldska and Aniara upper secondary schools, which sent 25 wonderful and positive third year students to work as volunteers at the fair. We regularly visit youth organisations such as MiM Kunskapscenter (MiM Knowledge Centre) and SOS Children’s Villages, where we teach young people how to seek jobs, expand their contacts and network with employers. Many of the resulting contacts have led to job offers,” says Lotta Forsberg, project manager at Skarpt Läge.

On 22 February, the Skarpt Läge fair opened at a new venue, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in Gothenburg. For three hours, young adults, regardless of their training and qualification backgrounds, had the opportunity to be matched with employers ready to offer jobs on the spot. The concept is simple: all the employers exhibiting at the fair had something to offer in the form of jobs, training or internships, and the young job seekers all turned up well prepared with their CVs. A follow-up study two months later showed that 184 of the job seekers had found jobs, of which 94 were full-time. Most of the jobs were in the warehouse logistics and hotel & restaurant sectors. Recruitment and interviews are still in progress. After six months the outcome will be measured again, and is expected to be even better.

With 1,831 participants, the fair broke its previous visitor record. It is hoped that Skarpt Läge will not only be the best job fair for young people in Gothenburg, but will become the best platform for young people seeking to enter the employment market in Sweden.

Skarpt Läge is built on a partnership between the Trade & Industry Group at Göteborg & Co, Gothia Towers/Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, the Swedish Public Employment Service, Visita and Labour Market and Adult Education (Arbetsmarknad och Vuxenutbildning).

The prize was presented on 2 April during the meeting of Börssällskapet at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in front of a capacity audience. A silver Gothenburg statuette and a cheque for SEK 25,000 were presented by the Chair of Gothenburg City Executive Board, Axel Josefson, and Göteborg & Co’s Trade and Industry Group. The winner of the Gothenburg Company Prize 2018 is I-Tech, a biotech company that has developed a sustainable method for preventing barnacles from settling on vessel hulls.

Axel Josefson, Chair of Gothenburg City Executive Board, and Göteborg & Co’s Trade and Industry Group present the Prize to I-Tech AB (Left to right: CFO Magnus Henell, Chairman of the Board Stefan Sedersten, CEO Philip Chaabane). Photo: Tim Kristensson/Happy Visuals

“In a country with so many exciting and promising companies, we feel very humbled to be winner of the Gothenburg Company Prize. I-Tech, a company born out of local academic research and largely backed by local financiers, is at the centre of a global expansion of the marine sector which is so important to Gothenburg. We share this honour with everyone who has been part of our almost 20-year journey,” says Philip Chaabane, CEO, I-Tech.

I-Tech was founded in 2000 and is a spin-off from research at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology. It is a research-intensive company that applies biotechnology to one of the maritime industry’s major problems, barnacle settlement. I-Tech’s product Selektope is a substance that is added to marine coatings to prevent barnacles from fouling vessel hulls. Selektope is unique in being the world’s only marine anti-fouling agent that does not kill barnacles.

Facts about the Gothenburg Company Prize:

  • Every year Göteborg & Co’s Trade and Industry Group awards the Gothenburg Company Prize to successful companies that are run and developed in the Gothenburg region.
  • The prize consists of SEK 25,000 and a silver statuette.
  • Since it was established in 1994 the Gothenburg Company Prize has been awarded to around 60 companies.

Göteborg & Co’s Trade and Industry Group is a platform for collaboration between trade & industry, organisations, municipal administrations and academia, and is aimed at making Gothenburg even more competitive and attractive. The Trade and Industry Group uses initiatives and projects to stimulate inclusivity and long-term skills provision, in order to contribute to an attractive, dynamic and sustainable metropolitan region.

Intensive work is underway to finalise the organisation of the big IAGG-ER congress on gerontology and geriatrics, which will be held at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in Gothenburg in May. Boo Johansson and Marie Kivi are two of the key organisers of the congress.

The planning of The 9th International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics European Region Congress, abbreviated as IAGG-ER, is in full swing. Boo’s role is Congress President, while Marie, as Deputy General Secretary, has the task of coordinating a complex network. Normally, when they’re not involved in planning the congress, they work at the University of Gothenburg as lecturers and researchers on the subject of ageing. Among other things, they study the effects of ageing on memory, cognitive ability and psychological health.

Inspired by the Nordic congress

Boo Johansson Göteborgs universitet
Boo Johansson. Photo: Johan Wingborg

The process started in 2014 after the 24th Nordic Gerontology Congress was held in Gothenburg. Following the big success of this congress, the idea was hatched of Gothenburg also hosting a European congress.

“That was how it started, as a result of the experiences from the 2014 Nordic Gerontology Congress in Gothenburg. The congress had been a huge success in all respects, and we felt we could do it again,” explains Boo.

AgeCap, the Centre for Ageing and Health at the University of Gothenburg, was also involved in the process. AgeCap had recently been established, and the European congress would serve as a means of promoting the University and everyone involved.

In conjunction with this, the Gothenburg Convention Bureau contacted Boo to ask if he would work on helping to bring the European congress to Gothenburg. Several parties suggested that we host this congress in 2019.

The organisation decided to seek support from the European organisation IAGG-ER. The organisation also contacted PCO MEETX, the meeting organiser that helped to organise the Nordic meeting.

“Things proved more challenging than expected, since all the available funds had been used up by the previous IAGG-ER congress. Finding funding was a challenge right from the outset. One might wonder why we would choose to organise this type of event, given the financial risk. But in academia we’re motivated by other driving forces such as generating opportunities to network with colleagues and promote our research projects,” explains Boo.

IAGG-ER is held every four years. During the 2015 congress, Gothenburg won the hostship in competition with Málaga, which had Antonio Banderas acting as ambassador for his home city. The decision to hold the 2019 congress to Gothenburg was taken at a council meeting, where delegates from all member states and organisations voted on the matter. The organisation succeeded in convincing the council that Gothenburg was the best and most obvious choice for the next congress.

“That was definitely a wonderful acknowledgement. It meant a lot for those of us who were involved, and we also realised how it would benefit AgeCap. We will get exposure far beyond the University of Gothenburg and Sweden. I think we’ve been successful in marketing the congress internationally too. It’s a win-win situation organising this type of meeting,” says Boo.

Marie Kivi
Marie Kivi. Photo: Peter Nilsson

“Since Gothenburg was elected to host the congress, we’ve attended several other international congresses, such as the IAGG World Congress in San Francisco in 2017. We also visited the Nordic meeting in Oslo in 2018 to market the congress in Gothenburg,” says Marie.

Boo and Marie believe the main reason that Gothenburg was chosen to host the IAGG-ER was the success of the Nordic congress in 2014, an experience shared by many of the delegates who voted. Another contributing factor is Scandinavia’s reputation for high quality and good organisation when it comes to meetings and congresses.

“We are very grateful that the congress will be held at a venue like the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre. Without this venue, we wouldn’t even have considered holding the event in Gothenburg. One of the venue’s main strengths is its ability to offer a complete range of services including hotel accommodation, meeting rooms and restaurants, right in the city centre. This is a huge competitive advantage we have over other cities,” says Boo, who adds:
“We also appreciate the fact that Göteborg & Co provided initial support and helped produce marketing material for the congress.

Capability in ageing – from cell to society

The congress is about ageing, covering a wide range of aspects such as what happens in our cells and what happens in society as people age. Because of this, many different scientific disciplines will be involved in the congress to cover all aspects of ageing.

“At AgeCap we’ve chosen to emphasise something we call capability: we examine the question of whether people can realise their potential based on what they want to achieve in old age. How do we want to live, and how can we ensure we age well? This is a general theme,” says Boo. He continues:

“In order to age well, our cells have to work well, and so does the social system. This is the theme for the congress: “Capability in ageing – from cell to society”.

Boo points out that with regard to ageing, society often tends to emphasise negative aspects. This manifests in prejudice and discrimination, a phenomenon known as ageism. He believes it is important to ascertain what people’s actual capabilities are later in life, and to challenge actions and attitudes that are based on people’s chronological age rather than on their actual capabilities.

Besides the many parallel sessions held during the three days of IAGG-ER, various activities will take place on open stages during the breaks, where organisations will have the opportunity to present themselves and their work.

“A wide variety of activities will take place on the stages during breaks and at lunchtime. For instance, music will be performed by Margaretakören, a choir where older people and children sing together. There will also be a fashion show presenting fashions for older people. While these things aren’t strictly scientific, they still contribute to the conditions for ageing well,” explains Marie.

In conjunction with IAGG-ER in Gothenburg, a World Council Meeting will be held for the whole international organisation.

“It’s always a challenge holding meetings within meetings,” says Boo. “But in this case it will help us attract participants from all over the world to the scientific programme.

The congress will rely on a large number of voluntary workers for its implementation. Volunteers of all ages, from students to pensioners, will contribute their time and efforts to make the congress as successful as possible. Boo and Marie are confident that the volunteers will also gain many new and valuable experiences from their involvement.

Public activities

Photo from the Årsrika exhibition. Sten with Ludde the dog. Foto: Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin

As during the European Stroke Organisation Conference(ESOC), hosted by Gothenburg in 2018, many additional public activities are being planned outside the congress venue. Årsrika, a photographic exhibition, will be held at Gothenburg City Library. It presents elderly people with different backgrounds and experiences. The photographs illustrate different aspects of people’s lives, telling stories of joy, love, happiness and death. Parts of the exhibition will also be shown in other locations around Gothenburg.

The Carin Mannheimer Award is awarded to emerging scholars affiliated with AgeCap for all types of research on ageing. The award will be conferred during the congress. After the award ceremony, the winners will go to Gothenburg City Library, where they will be presented along with previous years’ winners.

In addition to this, the organisers hope the congress will receive coverage via the press, radio and TV in order to reach a wide public.

Foto från utställningen Årsrika.
Gothenburg residents Iris and Gunvor are pictured in the Årsrika exhibition. Photo: Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin

Aims

Nearly 1,300 participants have registered for the congress to date, but this figure is expected to increase. Boo and Marie hope that about 1,500 people will participate. While meetings held in the Nordic region tend to be of high quality in terms of content, logistics and technology, there are many potential obstacles.

“If you look at the expense for the individual participants – the whole package, travel, accommodation etc., it is very costly to take part. Moreover, in this type of broad congress, which covers a wide number of areas, it can be difficult to motivate people since they also need to attend smaller, more specialised meetings in their own area of specialism,” explains Boo.

The organisation would like to see many junior researchers at the congress, as they would benefit enormously from it.

“Of course we offer a discount for pre-PhD researchers. It’s always a challenge to make congresses accessible to junior researchers with limited financial resources, even though it is this generation that will ultimately lead future research. However, a larger number of students have registered for this congress than previously,” says Boo.

Most of the registered participants are from Europe, but there are also participants from South America, USA, Canada and Australia.

“Region Västra Götaland is a partner that has provided a lot of funding and staff for the congress. The congress offers a valuable opportunity for training staff locally,” says Boo.
“The same applies to the City of Gothenburg,” adds Marie. They have an option for participating with 200 staff members, who could benefit greatly from taking part. Based on our planning experience, both of us recommend that Region Västra Götaland and its bordering municipalities take advantage of this type of meeting as a means of offering their staff advanced training, and to encourage local research and development.

– …an amazing congress, the best ever!

When asked what they would like participants to take away with them from the congress, in terms of knowledge, experiences, thoughts and ideas, both Boo and Marie agree:

“We want them to feel it was an amazing congress, the best ever! They should go home with many new ideas and new contacts. They should feel it was well organised,” says Boo.

Marie adds:
“Well organised, good premises, a wonderful city and great content. We have created themed symposia and a scientific conference that tie in with each other. It’s much more inspiring to take part in things that are interrelated, rather than attending isolated activities without a greater context.”

In conclusion, Marie says, “I think this will be a fabulous meeting!”

If you would like to work as a volunteer at the IAGG-ER congress, contact our volunteer coordinator Grazina.WojnickiJohansson@gmail.com

When the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra recently gave a guest concert at the Berlin Philharmonie, the Gothenburg Convention Bureau took the opportunity to visit Berlin together with staff from the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre. Whilst there, they visited several customers and invited strategically important partners to the concert.

Photo: Dick Gillberg/Göteborg & Co

To strengthen relations and promote Gothenburg as a meeting destination, visits were arranged with several professional conference organisers in Berlin. These visits provided an opportunity to present Gothenburg’s strategic plan drawn up in partnership between industry, academia and the city, which will provide a basis for future efforts to promote Gothenburg as a destination for conferences and meetings. The conference organisers were also invited to the concert given by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

“It was extremely valuable for Gothenburg to have this opportunity to invite strategic business partners to hear the Swedish national orchestra, especially in Germany, where there is a long-standing interest in Sweden and Gothenburg. This will strengthen Gothenburg’s position as a meeting destination by proving that we can deliver world-class events,” says Ulrika Scoliège, project manager at the Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

During the concert intermission, Sten Cranner, General Manager and Artistic Director of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, gave the guests an exciting presentation of the orchestra and its history.

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra – the Swedish national orchestra

The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra gives about 100 concerts per year. Besides performing at the Gothenburg Concert Hall and touring internationally, the GSO plays every summer at Götaplatsen square during the Gothenburg Culture Festival and in Slottsskogen city park on 6 June, as well as giving guest performances at Vara Concert Hall.

The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Chief Conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali, pianist Alice Sara Ott and percussionist Martin Grubinger gave guest performances in Stockholm, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, Vienna and Salzburg on 16 February–1 March 2019.

gso.se