The Circular Economy of Academic Conferences

Amanda Ferguson, the VisitScotland and Marketing Edinburgh veteran DMO is now working alongside academics within the University of Edinburgh in a concerted effort to attract strategically important international conferences to Scotland’s capital city. The drivers are sectoral growth and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) which determines the global reputational standing of the university index-linked to its 7-year research funding cycle.

Ferguson is building a pipeline of strategically important academic conferences for Edinburgh University

It’s a circular economy. The better the global ranking, the greater the attraction of leading academics, researchers, and students.

And the benefits of hosting academic conferences on home turf, argues Ferguson, are greatly amplified. Provided the data is there to illustrate the long-tail impacts – papers shared, publications submitted, inventions commercialised, and jobs created – resulting from events, so the REF-score and funding potential increases.

On the backstory of Marketing Edinburgh’s demise, Ferguson explains, that coincided with the City Council shifting its KPIs from the visitor consumption economy to GVA (Gross Value Added). By the time the bureau had adapted “the money was gone…”

The Iceberg Curator senses that the decision to pull the plug on Edinburgh’s convention bureau is rooted in over-tourism.

Perhaps the Edinburgh City councillors would benefit from watching ‘Change Agents or Travel Agents’ to understand that ‘better’ tourism, which delivers legacies beyond supply chain consumption, would benefit its electoral community, Edinburgh’s long-term standing as a potential Intellectual Capital, and would deliver on all aspects of its manifesto promises to the community beyond visitor attraction.

That, however, takes vision beyond electoral cycles.

Singapore and Glasgow’s administration get it.

Can they? 

(Opinion only)
Further reading:

From UTS ePRESS: The Power of Conferences | Stories of serendipity, innovation and driving social change

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