Organising a conference? Think about what you can do for start-ups!

ICTR-PHE 2016 welcomed 16 exhibitors and sponsors as part of its industrial exhibition. If you have ever (co-)organised a large scientific conference, you almost certainly have your own list of major industrial actors who could be interested in becoming exhibitors or sponsors.


The six start-ups present at ICTR-PHE 2016 – Oncoradiomics, Colnec Health, Dixit Solutions, e-Learning4Health, I-See Computing and SmART Scientific Solutions (not pictured). (Image: Salvatore Fiore)

ICTR-PHE has shown that scientific conferences can have a catalysing role in transforming young start-ups and spin-off companies into the key industrial players of tomorrow.

A special start-up corner was provided in the industrial exhibition, where small stands were made available for a modest fee to start-ups and spin-off companies in fields relevant to the conference theme, together with a 5-minute timeslot for a pitch to the audience. Six start-ups, from the Netherlands, Italy and France, took this opportunity to present their products and services, which were as varied as Monte Carlo simulation for radiobiology, real-time exchange and collaboration in clinical trials, and e-learning for training in radiotherapy. Beyond the extra visibility for the entrepreneurial researchers behind these start-ups, the initiative also added considerable value for the conference itself: it raised awareness among the participants about the innovative solutions offered by these young companies and effectively demonstrated that being a scientist and an entrepreneur can go hand in hand very well.

“It’s very nice to see the scientific community being so supportive towards entrepreneurs,” says Frank Verhaegen, head of research in medical physics at the Maastro clinic in the Netherlands and co-founder of SmART Scientific Solutions, one of the start-ups present at ICTR-PHE 2016. “It’s one of those things that makes you wonder: why doesn’t every conference do this?”

If you are organising a conference, why not consider having a start-up corner and making a positive impact on entrepreneurs in your field of research? Don’t hesitate to contact the Knowledge Transfer Group for advice on how to set this up.

by David Mazur