News about: Meetings

In September 2021 Gothenburg and Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre will be hosting the EAIE (the European Association for International Education) conference, the largest international higher education congress in Europe and the second largest in the world. The conference usually attracts about 6,000 people from universities and higher education institutions in more than 95 countries.

“Following many years of work, we are now able to say that Gothenburg will be hosting EAIE 2021, a welcome announcement at a point when we could all do with something to look forward to. This is a difficult time for the industry and we need some positive news. This major, prestigious event coming to Gothenburg next year is a reminder that we are still working hard to bring in major events in the future,” says Annika Hallman, Director of Göteborg & Co.

The annual conference brings together vice-chancellors, politicians, heads of international departments and others engaged in international education to network and attend workshops and talks.
Run by EAIE, the conference will be hosted by six universities in West Sweden: the University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology, Jönköping University, the University of Borås, Halmstad University and the University of Skövde.

“Holding the EAIE conference here in West Sweden not only gives us an opportunity for discussion and knowledge exchange on relevant education issues. It also sees us putting our region on the international education map,” says Eva Wiberg, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gothenburg.

As well as talks and workshops, the conference will also feature more than 350 international organisations as exhibitors. The exhibitors will come from about 30 countries as far afield as Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, the USA, China and New Zealand.

“The value of international relations and exchanges cannot be overestimated and the thousands of conference delegates coming from around the world will open up countless opportunities to forge new contacts. In the long term, it will benefit our entire region thanks to the many new angles gained in the exchange of knowledge, skills and questions between society and academia that is essential for positive societal development,” says Stefan Bengtsson, President and CEO of Chalmers University of Technology.

Conditions within the tourism industry have undergone a fundamental shift, and we feel warmly for all those who have been affected. Rarely has cooperation been as important as it is right now. We take our role as a collaborative platform extremely seriously, and we are working hard to provide as much help as we possibly can. Here, you can find out more about what actions Göteborg & Co is taking in the current situation.

On March 4–6, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothenburg welcomed industry colleagues to the ICCA Scandinavian Chapter Meeting, at which Gothenburg had the opportunity to share its experiences as a meeting destination.

Malin Erlandsson, Chair of ICCA Scandinavian Chapter. Photo: The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) is a global organisation made up of meeting industry members from a hundred countries. ICCA’s Scandinavian Chapter is represented by 70 member organisations from Iceland, the Faeroe Islands, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. The chairmanship of the Scandinavian organisation rotates between the member nations annually, and the chapter meeting is held in the chair country and city. 2020 is Sweden’s turn, and Malin Erlandsson from the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is Chair, meaning that this year’s ICCA Scandinavian Chapter Meeting was held in Gothenburg in early March.

Sustainability was a key theme for the meeting, which attracted more than 80 participants. The first day of the meeting included a city tour, giving attendees the opportunity to visit locations including Lindholmen Science Park. The City of Gothenburg also arranged a welcome reception at the newly opened Börsen, where the city’s Mayor Anneli Rhedin and CEO of Göteborg & Co Peter Grönberg welcomed the participants.

Göteborg & Co’s Peter Grönberg welcomes participants. Photo: The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre

Discussions included topical issues such as the effects of changed travel habits on our industry, finding a common way to measure the legacy and beyond-tourism effects of international congresses, and how Scandinavia can position itself as a region at international fairs. Gothenburg Convention Bureau also held a session on best practice, at which four destinations described initiatives that they were particularly proud of. Gothenburg shared its experiences of gathering forces on a broad front in connection with its strategic plan for meetings, and explained that the city is this year’s Capital of Smart Tourism and what this means. Göteborg & Co’s Sustainability Strategist Katarina Thorstensson spoke about her experiences of how Gothenburg came top in the Global Destination Sustainability Index.

Photo: The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) is a global association with 1,100 member organisations from hundreds of countries within the meeting industry: convention bureaus, convention organisers, hotels, conference facilities, travel providers and meeting organisations. The organisation aims to develop the meeting industry and create the right conditions for sustainable growth, knowledge dissemination, talent attraction and skills enhancement.
For more information visit:

Two new colleagues joined Gothenburg Convention Bureau a while back. Fredrik Lundgren will work as part of the project management team to attract more new meetings, while Lena Edemell will deal with research and support for meetings that have already been decided on.

Fredrik Lundgren and Lena Edemell. Photo: Linda Nordberg, Göteborg & Co

Fredrik has extensive experience as a project manager within marketing and sales, and in recent years has worked with some of the largest Swedish and international sporting events, including the Partille Cup – World of Handball. His work at Gothenburg Convention Bureau will focus on organisation and business meetings, and he is excited about his new role.

“I had extremely high hopes of my new position as a project manager, and they’ve certainly been met so far. Building relationships with so many fascinating, knowledgeable researchers, professors and academic and business leaders is a real bonus of the job. I’m also looking forward to making contact with international congress arrangers and other destinations.

“The scientific meetings that we’ve won at GCB will help to ensure even wider dissemination for the research carried out here in Gothenburg. This is an important driving force that leads the city, its science and its industry to identify new routes for cooperation. But it also demonstrates the importance of our networking activities.

“From a historical perspective, it feels like we’re currently experiencing a growth spurt. Whether it’s sustainable strategies for the meeting industry or new technology emerging here in Gothenburg, we’re part of the trend. The feeling of being where it’s happening and getting to scratch at the surface of the latest research is incredibly inspiring. Gothenburg is also undergoing a phase of enormous expansion, not least when it comes to hotel construction. The offering and the guest capacity are both increasing, enabling us to host more meetings and larger meetings. Overall, it feels like there are a few really inspirational years ahead of us here at Göteborg & Co.”

Lena has been in her role a little longer, having joined in autumn 2019. She previously spent several years at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, where her roles included Unit Manager and RD&E (research, development and education) coordinator. Over the years, she has built up an extensive network and has valuable experience of identifying new meetings that can brought to Gothenburg, including medical congresses. Lena will also act as an external contact for support and questions relating to meetings that have already been decided on.

“Changing direction after spending many years working in healthcare for Region Västra Götaland felt like an exciting and fascinating challenge. After an initial feeling of enthusiasm combined with a little apprehension, I quickly felt very much at home thanks largely to the wonderful creative environment and my colleagues at Göteborg & Co.

“The meeting industry is exciting and is constantly evolving. It’s an extremely broad field with a lot going on, making this a fantastic journey to be on. It’s wonderful to see the synergy effects that can be achieved through the excellent cooperation we enjoy with our stakeholders. It’s quite unique and makes Gothenburg stand out as a meeting destination – it’s certainly something to be proud of!”

Contact Fredrik and Lena.

The cities of Florence, Gothenburg, Ljubljana, Lyon, Salzburg and Valencia have launched a European collaborative network. The aim is to share knowledge and experiences, and to highlight the cities’ strengths as meeting destinations for potential customers. However, the network also offers other opportunities for mutual support.

(From left) Tatjana Radovič (Ljubljana), Elisabeth Kassanits-Pfoess (Salzburg), Manuel Ferris (Valencia), Ulrika Scoliège (Gothenburg), Ilenia Pasi (Florence) and Faustine Maugat (Lyon). Photo: Pitch Perfect

The initiative for the network was first taken in 2019, when the cities’ convention bureaus saw how cooperation would benefit them. Although the cities sometimes compete for the same international meetings, there are obvious advantages of close cooperation such as joint activities, sharing knowledge and experiences, concrete business insights and using resources in a time- and cost-effective manner.

As an initial joint activity, the network invited associations and organisations to a networking meeting in Brussels in early March. Brussels is an important hub where many international and European organisations are headquartered. The various organisations expressed a high level of interest and recognised the advantages of getting to know several cities at the same time.

The coronavirus pandemic broke out shortly after the activity in Brussels, putting the member cities – and the rest of the world – to the test in an entirely new situation.

“The conditions for planning our continued cooperation changed dramatically,” says Ulrika Scoliège from Gothenburg Convention Bureau. “The focus of exchanges within the network is now on sharing strategies and good practice for the cities to get up and running again quickly as meeting destinations, as soon as circumstances allow.”

Ulrika Scoliège (Gothenburg) and Fanny Senez (International Association of Young Lawyers). Photo: Pitch Perfect

By working together, the network hopes that the participating destinations will be able to strengthen each other amid the global competition for meetings, and to act as a one-stop shop for organisations looking for cities in which to hold their meetings.

The ICCA Scandinavian Chapter in Gothenburg 2010 marked the starting point for Global Destinations Sustainability Index. Ten years later the members are back to share knowledge and best practices.

Marco van Itterzon, ICCA research director, and Malin Erlandsson, Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre greeted visitors welcome

Gothenburg sustainability strategist Katarina Thorstensson from Göteborg & Co is adamant in her belief that collaboration is the only way to success:

“We need to work together with suppliers, politicians, hotels and venues. Collaboration is our superpower. So, use these days to take steps forward and push the boundaries. It’s all about caring and sharing”, she said in her opening speech.

Gothenburg has for four consecutive years been named world leader by Global Destination Sustainability Index. And at the ICCA Scandinavian Chapter meeting in Gothenburg 4 – 6 March, six of the top-ten cities participated. Together with associations from the Nordics.

“That six out of the ten best cities are present in this room is a great asset for us all. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn from each other”, says Katarina.

For the consecutive two days, delegates discussed common challenges and shared knowledge around best sustainable practices. But also, how to create legacy. An example was when Gothenburg hosted the European Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG-ER) last year.

Malin Erlandsson from the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is chairperson of ICCA Scandinavian Chapter. Together with Marco van Itterzon from ICCA Research, she greeted several associations welcome already on Wednesday morning to a pre-meeting, while the Chapter meeting began on Thursday.

Marco van Itterzon gave a speech on the resources that ICCA can provide its members. And he also touched the topic on everybody’s minds:

“We are currently updating the information on the effects of the coronavirus. It’s important to stick to the facts and we try to gather all relevant resources at the ICCA website.”

In the concluding talks Annika Hallman, Director Gothenburg Convention Bureau shared info on how Gothenburg works together as destination and the effects of city-wide collaboration, notably the Strategic Plan for Meetings endorsed by the municipal council.

Gothenburg is at the top among the world’s most sustainable cities for the fourth year in a row according to the Global Destination Sustainability Index 2019. This was revealed on Wednesday at ICCA World congress in Houston.

Annika Hallman recieved the prize from Guy Bigwood, GDSI, and James Reese, ICCA. Photo: Buller


The GDSI was launched by MCI-Group together with the international organisation ICCA. On Wednesday October 30thAnnika Hallman, Director at Gothenburg Convention Bureau, was able to accept the award on behalf of Gothenburg:

“In recent years, Gothenburg has taken a leading role and inspired other destinations to become more sustainable. We have lectured and received study visits from other cities and used our top position to drive the development towards a more sustainable meeting industry, as well as strengthening Gothenburg’s profile as a leading congress and convention destination”, says Annika Hallman.

The ranking was made for the first time in 2016 and this year the interest has been greater than ever, and the level of performance has improved. More than 50 cities and destinations participated and among the newcomers this year are Denver, Brisbane and Lyon. The top three cities were Gothenburg followed by Copenhagen and Zurich.

Another achievement was when Gothenburg recently was appointed European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020 by the European Commission. Here, too, the city’s work on sustainability is a weighty reason and Gothenburg was also awarded the special award in the category of sustainability.

“More and more cities are looking at Gothenburg and next year there will be a major focus on how to work to become smarter in areas such as digitalization, accessibility, culture and sustainability”, says Peter Grönberg CEO of Göteborg & Co.

GDSI measures all elements of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. But to gain a high ranking, it is not enough just to involve the hospitality trade, with facilities and hotels; the city as a whole must also be engaged in sustainability issues.

The cities are assessed based on several criteria: such as how effectively the city recycles and disposes of waste, environmental certification of hotels and restaurants, emissions of greenhouse gases, accessibility, the traffic situation, rental bike systems and whether both public and private stakeholders have sustainability strategies in place.

To find out more about the survey and the results for all cities involved, please see:

Gothenburg crosses the Atlantic

Published by Linda Nordberg 15 October, 2019 in Meetings.

In mid-September, Gothenburg exhibited for the first time at IMEX America, the largest annual international trade fair in the US. 3,500 buyers from 68 countries attended the fair, so it was an important strategic decision to participate and use the opportunity to showcase Gothenburg as a meeting destination.

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

Eva Ahlm Tobisson, project manager at Gothenburg Convention Bureau, recently arrived home from a successful visit to Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, where the fair IMEX America took place on 11–13 September. Gothenburg exhibited at the fair alongside the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers and others in the Scandinavian Pavilion.

A number of other destinations and companies exhibited in the Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Chuck Janda

Several mailouts were sent to registered visitors before the fair to generate interest in Gothenburg as a meeting destination and arrange individual meetings. The mailouts focused on the city’s food culture, natural beauty and activities, as well as more meeting-related benefits such as venues, collaboration across the city and its commitment to sustainability. These benefits typically mean that organisers and delegates are impressed with Gothenburg as a host city for meetings. Delegates booked many individual meetings through Eva as a result of the mailouts. Aside from these meetings, most customers visited the stand spontaneously, as they see Gothenburg as an attractive destination.

Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Eva Ahlm Tobisson

“We naturally had many questions about what visitors can do in Gothenburg and its surroundings, where the coast, countryside and food appeal to visitors. Some of them checked us out because they realise that sustainability is becoming a higher priority for meetings and is an area where Gothenburg stands out. Often they also work with companies that have links to Gothenburg. Last but not least, Gothia Towers and the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre are unique in Europe for their size and location. This is something that the US market identified as one of the big advantages of Gothenburg,” explains Eva.

Apart from all the individual meetings, the uniting theme at the Scandinavian Pavilion this year was “Take a liking to a Viking”, which included Viking snacks and an interactive quiz for visitors.

Viking quiz at the Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Chuck Janda

It has not yet been decided whether there will be a repeat visit to IMEX America next year.

“We will evaluate the results to determine if there is value in returning next year. But my immediate reaction is that it was really worthwhile and there is a lot of interest in Gothenburg. So in this case we must hope that what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas,” concludes Eva.

Ian Milsom is Consultant Gynaecologist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, where he leads work in female and paediatric health. Ian is also the initiator and chairman of the 49th International Continence Society (ICS) Annual Meeting which was held in Gothenburg at the start of September. The congress was visited by almost 2,000 people from around 70 countries and many of the delegates are well-renowned international experts in incontinence and pelvic floor disorders.
We had an opportunity to ask Ian some questions about his experiences of the congress. 

Ian Milsom och Daniel Snowdon, Executive Director ICS
Ian Milsom and Daniel Snowdon, Executive Director ICS. Photo: Anna Hylander/Göteborg & Co

Hello Ian! Tell us a little about the conference …

There were roughly 2,000 delegates at the conference from many different occupational fields, including urologists, gynaecologists, geriatricians, and general practitioners, as well as researchers and physiotherapists. The largest proportion of delegates came from the US, but there were also many from Japan and other parts of the world. Because the congress was held in Sweden we also saw more Swedes visiting the congress than in previous years.

So now it’s over, are you pleased with the results?

During the congress lots of people came up to me and said they felt the congress was really good and that the programme content was useful and relevant. It was nice to hear that. And we also had full audiences in the lecture halls.

We had worked hard on the congress for a couple of years and very intensively in the final year. When we brought the congress to Gothenburg it was in competition with around ten other destinations. In the end it was between us, Paris, Glasgow and Prague. So it was naturally great to hear positive feedback on the congress. Many people were also impressed by the way that the conference halls, exhibition and everything else were integrated with the hotel. Often you attend the congress until 17.00, then there is a social event at 19.00. So it’s good to have everything on the doorstep.

We got a great deal of help from the congress organiser, Kenes, and they were also impressed by Gothenburg as a city for meetings, and extremely pleased with the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers, just like us. We also got a lot of support from Gothenburg Convention Bureau, especially Anna Hylander and Annika Hallman. Andreas Wiktorsson was the project manager in charge for the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, and we were also very pleased with all the aspects relating to planning and premises.

It feels as if we have done something worthwhile for Gothenburg – that we have helped to make more people fans of Gothenburg as a city of meetings and events. The only improvement we could have wished for was some better weather during the week of the congress.

How do you think Gothenburg compares to other European cities?

Gothenburg compares very well! Many people noticed the benefits, and for example took the airport shuttle bus instead of a taxi. The journey from the airport was short and it gave you a chance to talk to colleagues on the bus. Many visitors were also impressed by the hotels and restaurants in Gothenburg and by the choice and quality of food.

Some congress delegates also brought their partners along on the trip, and even their children, and they found there were plenty of activities for them. Some shopped, while others visited the museums. Poseidon was obviously an attraction and because ICS uses Poseidon as a graphic symbol lots of people wanted to visit the statue. All the flowers around Poseidon, in Götaplatsen square, made it a beautiful sight.

Some people also decided to come here before the congress started and use the opportunity to visit the fantastic coast and islands.

A dinner was held in the congress hall at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre. How important is it to have social events during a congress? By the way, I heard it was a big success …

Yes, it was a success. Many people were impressed by the way a congress hall could be transformed into a banquet hall in that way and I had to explain how it was done.
The main point of a congress is naturally to exchange knowledge, but yes, I believe it is very important to have social activities that enable people to network. It’s a chance to get to know others in your profession.

The City of Gothenburg and Region Västra Götaland also gave a fine presentation during the welcome speeches. It was also a good opportunity to make contacts.
A number of smaller social events were also arranged.

What do you hope visitors took home from the congress?

That they felt the scientific content was good. We had a scientific committee that advised on the content to ensure it was as interesting as possible. I naturally hope that the delegates learned something and feel encouraged to test new treatments and offer new treatment advice. And that they got to know others in the same occupational field and have the opportunity to exchange knowledge in the future and drive the research forwards.

I also hope that people want to come back to Gothenburg. In fact I know one delegate from Cairo who is planning to come back to go canoeing.

Next year’s congress will be held in Las Vegas, US.

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.

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


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