Singapore has built on its reputation as a leading destination for medical meetings, attracting two prominent European medical congresses to Asia for the first time. This comes on the back of a slew of medical conference wins that are expected to attract approximately 16,000 visitors and inject $34 million into the Lion City’s local economy in coming months.

The recent European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Asia Congress (December 18-20) attracted an estimated 2,700 international attendees, and was endorsed by 11 of the most influential oncology associations in the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand and Thailand.

The event aligns with Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) mission to champion business events as drivers of the local knowledge economy and enablers for industry growth within Singapore. The medical and healthcare sector is a key industry for Singapore: The city-state’s healthcare system is internationally recognised, ranked first for most efficient healthcare system, out of 51 countries, in 2014 by Bloomberg. Singapore is Asia’s fastest-growing bio-cluster, spending more than US$1.1 billion on biomedical R&D annually. Innovation is driven by a network of research institutes, corporate labs and public hospitals, particularly through its ‘Biopolis’ centre at one-North. Multi-national corporations including Novartis, Merck, Roche, GSK, Johnson & Johnson and Abbott have based their regional headquarters there, along with the top 10 global medical technology companies.

International congresses bring with them opportunities for education, as well as international networking and collaboration to further Singapore’s strengths in the medical sector. Jeannie Lim, Executive Director Conventions, Meetings and Incentive Travel at STB, said: “We are honoured that ESMO chose to host its first Asian congress in Singapore. With a strong biomedical hub and a knowledge-driven economy, Singapore continues to hold strong relevance for medical congresses and meetings. The quality content of such events enrich the knowledge of both international and Singapore delegates, promising the inspiring meeting experience that Singapore strives to offer.”

ESMO president Professor Rolf A. Stahel added: “Singapore is a perfect fit for the first-ever ESMO Asia Congress, with its geographical location that makes it a convenient travel hub for international delegates. Coupled with the state-of-the-art event facilities, I’m confident hosting the ESMO Asia here presents an optimal opportunity for the exchange of expertise across Asian and European cultures and help elevate the field of oncology further.”

This success will be followed in May 2016 by two further prestigious medical events, both in Southeast Asia for the first time. The 24th International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) annual meeting and exhibition (May 7–13) is expected to draw some 6,000 clinicians, engineers, physicists, biochemists and technologists from around the world to share their knowledge in advancing the science of magnetic resonance in medicine.

Singapore will also host the world’s largest spinal care-related meeting, SpineWeek 2016, from May 16–20, the first time the event has been organised outside of Europe. The event is expected to bring together 6,000-7,000 delegates from 16 spine societies around the world for the event’s first Asian edition. The congress will also host training workshops outside of abstract sessions, which will give delegates more opportunities to broaden their expertise and exchange ideas, improving Singapore’s local knowledge base and potentially leading to future collaborations.

Overall, Suntec Singapore convention centre will host 10 major medical meetings next year, with medical and healthcare meetings constituting a ‘key segment’ of the venue’s event calendar. Besides playing host to the International Osteoporosis Federation Regionals 6th Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting for the first time, the venue will also stage Asia PCR/SingLIVE 2016, the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering Singapore Conference & Exhibition 2016, and the International Dental Exhibition and Meeting (IDEM) 2016, with the latter event expected to attract more than 8,500 delegates. It will also host major medical trade exhibitions Biopharma Asia Convention (March 2016), and Medical Fair Asia (August 31–Sep 2, 2016).

STB’s Lim added: “We are delighted that event organisers are impressed with Singapore’s offerings as a MICE destination. We are happy to help bring about a fruitful meeting experience through which delegates not only learn, network and exchange ideas, but also return home with a piece of Singapore in their hearts.”