Trend In Action: Aligning Meeting Content in Toronto

How associations are leveraging resources and expertise in Canada’s Downtown to improve their meetings.

From biotech to pharmaceutical, associations of all stripes are quickly recognizing Toronto’s life science expertise as a resource for their meeting content. In fact, the city’s noteworthy offerings in the area of Pediatrics recently attracted the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) to hold their 2018 Annual Meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this past May.

“We really feel such an obligation to make it as easy as possible for our attendees to have a very learning-focused experience,” says Pediatric Academic Societies Executive Director Eileen Fenton.

The coalition selected Toronto as their host destination in order to meet this goal. Delegates took advantage of local resources, the most visited site being the Hospital for Sick Children. Resources such as this helped PAS enjoy its largest professional attendance to date.

“We were so excited to hold our event in a city as diverse and vibrant as Toronto, where people from all over the world feel welcome,” says PAS Meeting Director Glenda Minshew.

PAS isn’t alone in selecting Toronto for their life science event. This upcoming September, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer will be holding their 19th World Conference on Lung Cancer. A second organization, AvaMed, recently announced that their esteemed MedTech Conference will be coming to the city in 2020. With its high level of expertise and numerous resources, Toronto was an easy choice for these organizations looking to align their meeting content with the host destination.

One of the largest resources for meeting attendees is Toronto’s Innovation Week. In fact, the annual gathering is a favorited event for stakeholders in the industry, convening startups, investors and partners in the space.

“It is a full ecosystem that is very much coming into its own,” rivaling international hubs of life sciences research and entrepreneurship, says Ella Korets-Smith, Executive Director of TO! Health. TO! Health, the industry-led cooperative which supports the local health and human sciences cluster, sponsors Toronto Health Innovation Week.

This globally recognized event serves as a microcosm of Toronto’s life sciences industry, reflecting the innovations in health care, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and more taking place in Canada’s Downtown.

Of course, the life sciences sector in Toronto isn’t fleeting. The city houses Canada’s largest biotech and pharmaceutical clusters. It’s also the second-largest life sciences cluster in North America. More than 50 multinational pharmaceutical, medical device and health company headquarters are located here as well as hundreds of smaller-scale enterprises: business incubators, accelerators, makerspaces and prototype labs all thrive in Toronto.

For evidence of this in action, meeting attendees have been visiting the MaRS Discovery District, comprising 1.5 million square feet of commercial and research space in downtown Toronto. The Discovery District represents numerous disciplines, with an emphasis on the health, cleantech, fintech and work and learning sectors.

The highly concentrated network is ripe for collaboration, says Korets-Smith. Visitors can meet with experts from acclaimed research institutions or hospitals, such as the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. The Leaders Circle program offered through Business Events Toronto and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre even assists meeting attendees in connecting with local experts in their respective fields at the venue.

Aside from Toronto’s expertise, its strategic location is also a plus for attendees. Getting to Toronto is a snap, especially for associations who are not already located in Canada. The city is in close proximity to major U.S cities such as Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C.

“Toronto is the gateway to Canada, and with 1,100 daily flights arriving from 55 countries around the globe, it is a destination that is appealing for international meetings that can draw on the 36,000 professionals who work in the life sciences and health care community here,” says Tara Gordon, Vice President of Business Events Sales and Service at Tourism Toronto.

Whatever you need to create an outstanding conference experience, Toronto’s life sciences community has you covered. The challenge is deciding just what direction to take.

This trend report is brought to you by Business Events Canada. Interested in planning your next life science event here? Reach out directly to receive a copy of our knowledge maps, designed to help you determine which Canadian city is the best fit for your meeting content.

(Handout photo)