Case Study

The 16th International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention -MICCAI2013-

Over five days from September 22-26, Nagoya University hosted the 16th International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI2013), welcoming 933 attendees, of whom 791 were foreign attendees representing a total of 39 countries.

Holding the event in Nagoya this year was proposed at the September 2010 conference in London. The conference came to Japan for the first time since Tokyo hosted it in 2002. Japan has a long history of top-level research and development in medical image processing and medical robotics. Boosted by the success of Japanese medicine-engineering collaboration research projects, Japan was chosen as the host. 90% of attendees came from overseas to enjoy a vibrant exchange of ideas in the field.

As the host facility, Nagoya University offered excellent access, with a subway station right on campus, and a superb convention venue that included the school's flagship: the recently renovated Toyoda Auditorium. This auditorium is one of the most lauded works by major Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. It underwent seismic reinforcement, restoration of the exterior walls, expansion of the atrium and improvements to the hall. Since this was a single-session international meeting, the entire event, including the locations of the talks and poster presentations, as well as the break areas, could be clustered around the acclaimed Toyoda Auditorium.

For showing posters, mounting boards were designed to be compact, and fluorescent lights were mounted above the boards to ensure sufficient illumination. One power outlet was provided for every three posters, in order to accommodate the use of laptop computers, to show movie clips accompanying the posters. For each talk, video and a summary slide were displayed at the beginning to facilitate participants' understanding. These were just some of the provisions made for the convenience of participants.

Various considerations were also made for facilitating interaction among attendees. Round tables were set up in the auxiliary spaces on each side of the Toyoda Auditorium, creating a semi-outdoor setting in which attendees could hold conversations. Lunch was included with event registration, with the hope of encouraging more intensive engagement.

In Toyoda Auditorium, box lunches were distributed. The broad flight of steps at the entrance to the auditorium, a terrace with views of the city, and an expansive campus green all provided inviting spots for lunch. Roll-up mats and folding umbrellas were provided along with the conference kit, while classrooms were also secured as backups in case of inclement weather.

The four international airports for accessing Nagoya are Narita, Haneda, Nagoya and Kansai. Information on how to reach the venue from each of these was provided on the conference website, including a custom guide to the Nagoya city subway. 18 tour buses were chartered to transport attendees seamlessly to and from the banquet venue.

It's a MICCAI tradition to hold a football match during the event—this year, it was actually a futsal match. The MICCAI Student Branch also organized a sightseeing trip to Hida-Takayama, which won glowing reviews.

Many attendees noted that the event ran more smoothly than they had ever remembered, making remarks like, "Nagoya is great!".

Attendees also enjoyed Nagoya's nightlife in the evenings, visiting bars and beer gardens to get a different view of Japan.

Nagoya, located right in the centre of Japan, enjoys excellent accessibility, and also many options for post-convention travel. During the conference, the Nagoya Convention & Visitors Bureau maintained a guide desk at the venue providing information about local attractions related to Japan's samurai past, industrial tourism, Nagoya gourmet dining including specialties like grilled eel on rice and noodles in miso broth, karaoke facilities, and downtown onsen hot spring resorts. The desk also fielded a tour spot information, such as directions to reach famous sightseeing spots further afield from Nagoya, places like old mystical town of Magome, Tsumago, Kamikochi in Japan Alps, and Kyoto. Attendees showed keen interest in Japan and were appreciative of Nagoya's excellent location as a base for sightseeing.

When holding an international meeting in Japan, the host organization can alleviate any apprehensions on the part of attendees from abroad and ensure they have an enjoyable stay through thoughtful attention to detail in running the event, backed up by Japan's highly reliable public transport and other social infrastructure. By reaching out to stimulate attendees' curiosity, organizers can offer an experience of the great natural and historic treasures and superb hospitality that make Japan unique. Here's hoping that more people around the world will come to understand these benefits, and choose Japan as their next MICE destination!


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