3 years of super science: the VIB Conference series in facts and figures

2 February 2018

​Full steam ahead for the last three years, the VIB conference series hosts numerous hot spots for collaboration, discovery, and much more. Since its kick-off back in 2014, VIB conferences have only added to the prestige of the VIB brand, both locally and internationally. Now at the conclusion of another successful year full of fascinating topics and fruitful collaborations, it’s high time to put the numbers – and the events’ numerous fans, partners, sponsors and attendees – in the spotlight.

Bringing people and technologies together
The primary goal of the series is visibility – in terms of new and established scientists as well as technologies. For example, Ruedi Aebersold (ETH Zurich), a speaker at ‘Next-Generation Antibodies and Protein Analysis’ in 2015, appreciated VIB uniting two very different research communities. “This program brought together scientists studying the proteome using mass spectrometry and those studying affinity reagent-based approaches – they rarely get to meet at conferences. Some very lively discussions ensued!”

Following hot on the heels of that goal is the opportunity for VIB and guest scientists to present their research and strike up groundbreaking collaborations, and not just between top researchers. PhD student Catherine Creppe (GIGA, Belgium) attended the 2016 event titled ‘The Brain Mosaic: cellular heterogeneity in the CNS’, saying: “I had the amazing opportunity to meet experts in my field and get detailed advice regarding my project.”

More than simply science
In addition to the presence of leading names in a variety of fields, VIB conferences also bring camaraderie and a spirit of welcome. “’At the Forefront of Plant Research’ was a fully immersive experience, and a rare occasion to find top-level research in an unbelievably friendly environment,” Maurizio Trovato (University of Rome) said of his 2017 attendance. “The social aspects were great,” enthused an anonymous attendee of ‘ER Stress, Autophagy & Immune System’, held in 2017. “The speaker lineup was impressive. I really enjoyed it
and would definitely come again.”

Better every year, say scientists
The last few years have seen participation – especially among international researchers – on the rise, with 2017 events particularly well-attended. “That was an awesome meeting,” asserted Detlef Weigel (MPI, Germany) after speaking at ‘At the Forefront of Plant Research’ in Ghent this year. “Great speakers, great program, great venue, great city. I’m very impressed by its popularity – many recent events have struggled to attract many more than 100 participants. Well done.”

Future perspectives
Over the past years, the VIB Conferences Series have definitely earned a quality label. But we are aware that there are always things to improve, for instance a better gender balanced speaker line-up. This remains a continuous point of attention for the organizers and they see to it that for every conference they invite as many female as male speakers. The gender issue is on the agenda and will be addressed to improve future conference programs. The 2018 conference program is already available (www.vibconferences.be) and the first lines for 2019 are plotted. Looking forward to a series of inspiring meetings!

The VIB Conferences series in numbers

  • 500 top speakers
  • 3,500 participating researchers
  • 50 countries represented
  • 60% of participating scientists were international in 2017 (vs. 40% in 2015)
  • Sponsored by 100+ biotech companies
  • 3 Million online impressions in 2016
  • 27,000 click-throughs to the VIB Conference series website