ELMI 2022 Conference in Turku

Credits: Mika Okko

Credits: Mika Okko

Top European experts in bioimaging gathered at Logomo in Turku

ELMI (European Light Microscopy Initiative) is a network that was founded in 2001 with the aim of promoting collaboration between researchers and equipment developers in light microscopy. The international ELMI conference brings together various experts in the field of bioimaging: researchers, equipment developers, staff working with the equipment and company representatives. The conference features, for example, microscope and laser technology as well as virtual reality solutions. Utilising modern optics, lasers and software, bioimaging supports nearly all modern biological and medical research and medicine development at a fundamental level. 

The ELMI 2022 Conference was held at the Logomo event centre in Turku in June 2022. The original event had to be postponed due to the pandemic. Turku was not the only applicant for the conference, and it competed with EMBL, for example, a leading international biology laboratory whose headquarters are located in Heidelberg, Germany. 

“The steering group that decides the conference location is very critical, so the application must be carefully prepared. The arrangements must also meet a long list of criteria,” says Pasi Kankaanpää, who organised the ELMI 2022 Conference in Turku with his colleagues. 

Kankaanpää is a Research Manager at Turku BioImaging, which is jointly operated by the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, and he coordinates the Euro-BioImaging Finland network consisting of imaging facilities from six universities and three university hospitals in Finland. The successful application process in 2019 was carried out by Markku Saari, a former colleague and current collaborator of Pasi Kankaanpää at Immuno Diagnostic Oy. 

"The organising committee did not organise the event by itself, as we had help from the experts at Aboa Congress and Event Services. We were in close collaboration right from the start,” Kankaanpää says. 

Gunilla Sjöberg, Aboa Congress and Event Services and Pasi Kankaanpää
Credits: Mika Okko

Equipment exhibition played a key role

Equipment exhibitions, the booths of international developers and various workshops play a key role at ELMI conferences in achieving the goals set for them. The main objective is to promote collaboration between academic research and equipment developers. Transporting the expensive, multi-million-euro microscopes and presenting their technical features demand a lot from the location and its technology in particular.

“We are extremely pleased at how the conference in Logomo turned out. In the feedback survey, 85 percent of the participants rated Logomo as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ as a conference venue. How the exhibition and the numerous workshops were implemented received special praise, as did the audio and acoustics,” Pasi Kankaanpää says with a smile.

“In addition to an exhibition, ELMI conferences also feature a large number of scientific posters, and there are various morning lectures. All parts of the conference must be held in the same building, and all exhibitors must have a central and visible location,” Kankaanpää emphasises.

Credits: Mika Okko, ELMI 2022 Logomo, Turku

Investing in hybrid production paid off

Organising conferences has been on a hiatus during the pandemic. ELMI, too, was once cancelled and once held fully virtually. In Turku, all scientific presentations were also presented online.

Approximately half of the program of the ELMI 2022 Conference was streamed online, and the recordings were available on the event platform for two weeks so that they could be revisited after the conference. 

“We wanted to provide a high-quality event experience also for the online participants, so we invested in the hybrid production model. We designed it together with Aboa, and it will lead the way for the next ELMI conferences. The ELMI Steering Committee has outlined that all future ELMI conferences should implement a hybrid system similar to ours in Turku.”

"The bar is now scary high"

“The food at Logomo received great feedback. Our coffee breaks were also hour-long to ensure that there is enough time to network,” Pasi Kankaanpää says. 

And the investments paid off: the food at the Turku conference was described “better than ever”, which pleased the hosts. 

“93 percent of the conference participants rated the overall experience as 'excellent’ or ‘very good’. The next ELMI conference will be held in the Netherlands, and before leaving, the Dutch said that we set the bar scary high,” Kankaanpää says with a smile.

The original article by Sari Ruusumo was published on the Turku Convention Bureau website