800 Million Euros Worth of Knowledge

Study at European Congress of Radiology finds value of scientific papers eclipses event’s economic impact.

By Boardroom Editors

When it comes to the value of a congress, scientific papers may surpass the economic impact of the event itself.

The European Society of Radiology (ESR), the world’s largest professional community in the biomedical field, recently conducted research highlighting the importance of education — and how papers presented at the Vienna-based European Congress of Radiology 2018 offered knowledge transfer that survey respondents valued at more than 800 million euros, far exceeding the estimates of the event’s economic impact on the city.

Working with the Vienna Convention Bureau (VCB), ESR conducted “The Sustainability of Scientific Congresses” study to determine the value of its annual congress, one of the largest medical conferences held in the world. The 2018 congress attracted more than 28,000 radiology experts and industry representatives, 20,000 of which joined in person, with the rest participating online. VCB and ESR asked the nearly 14,000 radiology experts attending in person to help with a survey focusing on the monetary value of knowledge transfer at a large-scale congress. The study, completed by about 10 percent of those attendees, found that the value of knowledge transfer investment at the congress was about 813 million euros.

The bureau started measuring visitor spend back in 1991 with economic impact studies. Drawing on this research, the VCB estimates that ESR’s annual congress generates an economic impact of 20 million to 65 million euros when 20,000 visitors descend on the city for a four-day stay.

“We wanted to establish what value is associated with presenting scientific papers at scientific congresses,” said VCB Director Christian Mutschlechner.

Some 3,331 papers were presented at this year’s congress.

“Our mission is education,” ESR Executive Director Peter Baierl said in a statement on VCB’s site. “We live in a world of numbers and the present study provides a valuable source of information in many respects — for communicating with the public, industry, and our customers, the doctors.”

Rod Cameron, director of the Joint Meetings Industry Council, added: “The survey shows very clearly that the value of the meetings industry goes far beyond tourism alone. It is not just a way for [organisations] to quantify their own value and use this when reaching out to prospective members; it also represents an opportunity to gather further best-practice examples for use as industry benchmarks.”

Knowledge transfer isn’t limited to researchers, however. The annual radiology congress also attracted major decision makers from the European Commission, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the World Health Organization, which, according to VCB, “promotes fruitful knowledge transfer, not just within the research community, but beyond it to clinical practice and policymaking.”

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