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Finnish Congress Heroes: EAS Helsinki

Credits: Markus Hyvärinen

A woman and a man sitting by a table drinking coffee and conversing.

EAS Congress for the European Atherosclerosis Society

We spoke with the Congress Chairs and Co-Chairs of Scientific Programme Committee of the Finnish Atherosclerosis Society Katriina Aalto-Setälä and Vesa Olkkonen about the EAS Congress and Helsinki as the host destination.
Credits: Markus Hyvärinen

Could you give us a bit of background on the EAS Congress?

The purpose of the Finnish Atherosclerosis Society is to promote scientific research and education on atherosclerosis. International contacts are important to us, and one of the best ways of networking and exchanging current information is through events.

We have organised these conferences in Finland before and received high praise for them. In the spring of 2021, we were given the opportunity to host the international EAS Congress for the European Atherosclerosis Society.

Originally, the event was set for Messukeskus in Helsinki, where they have a great framework for inspiring, top-tier events. Due to the pandemic, we had to adapt our plans, guidelines and the whole process to the virtual realm. For a long time, we held our hopes for a hybrid event. However, we eventually decided on a virtual event where only the speakers from Finland travelled to the venue.

Why was Helsinki, Finland chosen as the host destination?

I think we got the congress for a number of reasons. For one, we are active in the field. Finnish universities conduct a great deal of high-level research in cardiovascular disease. We also have a number of successful events under our belt already. Not to mention our tireless professionals in charge of the applications – a special thank you goes to Professor Marja-Riitta Taskinen.

One reason has to do with Finland as a nation. Finland is sustainable, safe and stable. You can trust our deadlines and service providers, no matter what. Finland is known for its beautiful nature, forests, archipelago, lakes, clean air and quiet surroundings.

Our beautiful capital, Helsinki, is highly accessible. All the major congress venues and hotels are situated within the city centre, making it easy for visitors to enjoy the social programme, the city’s cultural offerings, sights and shopping.

Business woman in a pink cardigan smiling towards the camera.
Katriina Aalto-Setälä
Credits: Markus Hyvärinen

How was the congress?

It was a new and exciting situation, but everything went well. The tech worked flawlessly, and the number of participants was astounding: 2409 people registered from around the world. We are delighted that we had the chance to organise the congress. Despite the exceptional circumstances, it’s important to keep in touch with our international colleagues.

The Finnish association and the EAS Scientific Program Committee, led by Professor Paolo Parini, made every effort to ensure a most topical and exciting scientific program for both clinical and basic research scientists. I believe that we managed to create some highly functional and stimulating virtual content.

The program was nearly as exhaustive as a live event would have been. Naturally, we all missed the social side and informal discussions with our colleagues. And we would have loved to show the great city of Helsinki to our friends from all around the world.

Do you intend to apply for another congress in Finland?

Absolutely! Organising a congress is always a great honour and learning experience. It’s very rewarding to work together with our international colleagues and the events tend to create plenty of positive results down the line. For the younger people it is a great opportunity to get to know people who might promote your scientific career in the future.

I also believe, that after the corona pandemic, Finland’s strengths as an event destination will be seen in a new light. We can offer responsible services that are produced in safe conditions in a country with a lot of room to roam, spacious and functional facilities and highly accessible nature.

Business man sitting by the computer smiling towards the camera.
Vesa Olkkonen
Credits: Markus Hyvärinen

EAS Congress for the European Atherosclerosis Society

Date: May 30 – June 2, 2021

• Organiser: the Finnish Atherosclerosis Society
• Format: Virtual
• Participants: 2409

Helsinki

• 650 000 residents. (1.5 M in the larger metropolitan area)
• Two major research universities: the University of Helsinki and Aalto University
• Around 48 000 companies
• Leading congress city in Finland

 

”Finland consistently ranks among the world’s 20 most popular congress countries, as Finland has excellent event know-how and infrastructure: Finns are experienced event organisers and hosts, and all services are first class. In addition, Finland known as a smart, stable and sustainable congress country.”

Ines Antti-Poika
Director, Finland Convention Bureau