Micelab:Bodensee – driving research for more creative congresses

“What could the congress of the future look like?” This is one of the central questions the founders of the think-tank Micelab:Bodensee are posing themselves. Their goal is to adapt congresses more strongly to their participants’ needs. This means, creating modern learning environments for adults which support educational goals in an innovative and interactive way. According to the lab’s website, in Germany alone, more than 340 million people attend a major event every year. They want their experience to be as valuable as possible. After all, learning, interacting and networking are the major motivations for attending an educational event. The Micelab initiative aims to get these motives more strongly reflected in the session formats themselves, so they will finally get the attention they deserve.

Together, representatives of convention bureaus, venues, and PCOs from Germany, Austria and Switzerland now study what such new formats could look like. They all are based in regions surrounding Lake Constance (German Bodensee) – hence the name of the project. Their favored approach is learning-by-doing. Until the year 2018, the initiative aims to develop a “research and continuing education programme previously unheard of in Europe” with the help of several pilot schemes.

The Micelab:Explorer module studies event formats, which are then tested by experts from the events industry in the mini event series Micelab: Experts. The public module Micelab: Experience is the result of these experiments and will be a training course for the entire industry. Feedback received from participants will again be used to improve the Explorer and Experts modules. The founding members will also strive to use the new insights gained to attract new event business to the region together with existing clients.

As can be seen, despite its name, the think-tank aims for international exchange with representatives of the entire MICE industry. Stefan Walter, Mondial Congress & Events Managing Director, was appointed into the advisory board in 2016. This committee is made up of five internationally renowned experts from the MICE sector whose task is to advise the Micelab core team in matters regarding business development and market access. Apart from Austria’s Stefan Walter, Switzerland Convention Managing Director Barbara Albrecht, Edgar Hirt from Messe Hamburg, and university professor Stefan Luppold from Ravensburg were also present.

In a day-long meetig held in January 2017, the advisory board members met with the Micelab:Bodensee core committee to learn all about the project. Afterwards, they also had the opportunity to give suggestions for its future development. The advisory board will meet again in a year.

In general, it can be said that this is a welcome initiative. Even though the content of many events, scientific congresses in particular, is often decidedly dedicated to new findings and innovation, this is not reflected in their form, where keynote lectures and panel discussion still dominate the stage. In the digital age, congresses will increasingly have to add face-to-face and interactive value, so they don’t end up competing for audiences with Youtube channels, which allow participants to enjoy education from the comfort of their homes. An additional networking and education platform can provide the events industry with some added value, as long as it fills a gap previously left open. It looks like Micelab: Bodensee might be able to do just that.

 

The advirosry board together with the Micelab core group. Stefan Walter (back row, second from the right) also participated.