Maastricht Convention Bureau

Archives: June 2017

A word from the Expert: Dr. ir. Emile van de Sandt

Welcome to our feature A word from the expert. In this feature, we introduce someone who has organized a conference in our region or will do so in the future. This month, we introduce with pleasure Dr. ir. Emile van de Sandt | Director Research & Development | DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals.


1. Why did you choose your specialism?

“At school I always liked the more exact subjects. When looking for a study I have chosen Chemical Engineering as in my view it should be great to be involved in the development, design, scale-up, improvement and operations of production processes. Factories, able to convert raw materials into final products, was fascinating me, especially when doing this in a sustainable way and taking care of the environment. I did my master at Delft University, where I also did my PhD. That was also on a subject which was very much related to the environment: the development of a process to convert the harmful CFCs (Chlorofluorcarbons, known from the refrigerators, depleting the ozone layer) into useful chemicals. In 1996 I started working at Gist-brocades, nowadays DSM, where biotechnology and microbes in fermenters are used for producing products. Also this is generally much more environmental friendly when compared to chemical routes. For a long time my specialism is downstream processing, the purification of products from the fermentor and complex mixtures. Since last year I am the R&D director of DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals, where we produce antibiotics (lifesaving drugs) and other products like statins (cholesterol lowering medicines) via biotechnology in a sustainable way and continuously are working to do this more efficiently.”


2. Which conference have you managed to acquire for the Maastricht Region? Which USP’s did you use?

“As chairman of the Dutch Society of Biotechnology we were able to acquire the European Conference of Biotechnology 2020. Different selling points have convinced the jury such as the strong local organizing committee, the industry involvement, strong academic network, and the role of the Netherlands is building the biobased economy.”


3. Which were the competitive cities and what was the decisive reason to choose for Maastricht?

“Other well-known conference cities have submitted a bid as well. Decisive was the excellent facilities of the MECC, the appeal of Maastricht as a vibrant, accessible biotechnology hub with strong academic links, options to visit Brightlands Chemelot Campus and research labs in the Maastricht University Medical Centre and the Maastricht University and finally the enthusiasm and commitment of the Dutch Society of Biotechnology and the Maastricht Convention Bureau to win the bid, as demonstrated during the site visit last November.”


4. What important themes will be discussed during the conference?

“New development and scientific highlights will be essential in our conference but also the industrial application of the science in real practice will be clearly present. The different application fields, such as (bio)pharmaceuticals, plant, food, agriculture, biomaterials will all be addressed and the different competences involved such as genetics, fermentation, synthetic biology, bioengineering and bioprocessing. Next to that quite some attention for young persons as they are key for the future of our field.”


5. What does the Maastricht Convention Bureau mean to you?

“I really want to thank the MCB for their efforts to make a very professional bid, their connections with the different stakeholders, arrangement of financial support and the organization of the site visit. This were instrumental in winning the bid and we are looking forward to the organize the ECB2020 together with them.”


Earlier editions of this feature:

AIACE Conference in Maastricht: for multiple reasons a true success!

AIACE, recognized as the only representative international association of former European Union officials, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty, held its annual congress in Maastricht from 28 May to 1 June 2017. 150 members met in MECC Maastricht. For several reasons, the organization looks back on a successful conference.

Highlights from the program

The welcome reception, offered by the Maastricht Convention Bureau, took place at Thiessen Wijnkoopers on 28 May. The General Assembly on May 30, during which the Maastricht Treaty was exceptionally exhibited, was preceded on May 29 by the solemn opening with Maastricht City Alderman Mrs M.F.V. (Mieke) Damsma and by a conference / debate with C. Trojan, former Secretary-General of the European Commission. This was about 25 years of Maastricht Treaty and the future of Europe. On 31 May, 3 other workshops were held on topics that are of interest to pensioners, as well as a meeting of the board of directors.

In addition, the participants became acquainted with the city of Maastricht and South Limburg: they had a tour of the city, a trip to the Drielandenpunt (three country spot) and the Margraten military cemetery, and finally visited the villages of Thorn and Oud-Rekem and the Bonnefantenmuseum.

The organization announced that the participants are over the moon about their experience and the environment and that they are still talking about the gala dinner at La Butte aux Bois.

Ronald McDonald Huis

It is common for money to be collected for a local charity during AIACE. Maastricht Convention Bureau suggested the Ronald McDonald Huis Maastricht, which was embraced by the organization and conference delgates: last week was announced that there were no less than

€ 637,40 in the collecting box and that the Ronald McDonald Huis Maastricht will receive an additional amount of € 875, – from the conference budget (an amount from the conference fee of each delegate); so: a total amount  of over € 1500, -! Margo de Kock, Managing Director of the Ronald McDonald House Maastricht, is grateful for the wonderful contribution from AIACE. She says that they can achieve no less than 44 nights for parents whose child is hospitalized in the adjoining MUMC+.


AIACE was founded in 1969 and now has 11,500 members around the world and 15 national sections. The objectives are:

  • defend the interests of the members of the institutions’ administrations and, where appropriate, the national authorities
  • dissemination of relevant information to members
  • dissemination of the European thought
  • promotion of contacts between members, through meetings, visits, conferences, excursions, etc., both regional and international.

Grand opening – St. Gerlach Pavilion & Manor Farm

Oostwegel Collection are delighted to announce the grand opening of St. Gerlach Pavilion & Manor Farm, today, by Her Royal Highness Margriet Princess of the Netherlands and husband Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven. To mark the occasion, two pieces of art, gifted by generous donors who share an affinity with the Château St. Gerlach estate, are unveiled at a private event for 450 guests.

Oostwegel Collection invests €11.1 million in Château St. Gerlach estate expansion

Dating back to 1668, the Manor Farm at the entrance to the estate, has been entirely restructured and transformed into Burgemeester Quicx, Coffee & More. Supremely adaptable it not only offers a welcome draw for coffee or lunch, but also six breakout rooms for intimate meetings and events. Adjacent to the farmhouse, the contemporary pavilion designed by renowned architect, Francine Houben from Mecanoo Architecten, effortlessly blends with its historic backdrop and boasts three multifunctional meeting rooms, that can be used separately or combined to encompass a vast 850m2 space, accommodating up to 750 people. Francine Houben explained, “The St. Gerlach Pavilion is designed with a generous overhanging roof and beautiful arch, using materials inspired by the surrounding landscape: limestone, bluestone and oak, ensuring a successful connection with the existing Château and newly renovated Manor Farm.”

Owner Camille Oostwegel SR said, “The spectacular St. Gerlach Pavilion and renovated Manor Farm strengthens the estates overall proposition, making it primed for the future and more relevant than ever for both leisure and business guests.”

New meetings and events venue overlooking Château St. Gerlach

Officially launched today, by Her Royal Highness Margriet Princess of the Netherland and husband Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven, The St. Gerlach Pavilion & Manor Farm have been trading since January 2017 and adds a new dimension to the existing hotel’s meetings and event spaces. Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven, whose continued support in preserving the cultural heritage of historic buildings has a connection to the estate that has endured for over 20 years, when he opened Château St. Gerlach in September 1997.


Artistic tributes unveiled

During archeological excavation, a 14th-century silver coin decorated with Johanna van Brabant’s and Philips de Stoute’s coat of arms was discovered on the site of the St. Gerlach Pavilion. To celebrate this discovery and mark the opening, artist Claudia Volders has been commissioned to create portraits of both individuals, to be hung in the Pavilion’s Johanna van Brabant salon, alongside the coins.
Additionally, the sculptor Frans van Straaten has been commissioned to create a bronze Limburg draft horse to stand between Manor Farm and St. Gerlach Pavilion entrance. Named “Bella from St. Gerlach” the statue is a celebration of Château St. Gerlach’s 20th anniversary and grand opening.

About Château St. Gerlach

Nestled in the Geul Valley, on the edge of the protected Ingendael nature reserve and just ten-minutes’ drive outside Maastricht, lies luxury hotel, Château St. Gerlach. The magnificent country estate has been thoughtfully and sensitively restored to encompass 113 guestrooms, suites and serviced apartments, a renowned à la carte restaurant, popular bistro, coffee bar, lavish spa facilities and 16 meeting and event spaces, including the newly built St. Gerlach Pavilion accommodating up to 750 guests.

A member of Relais & Châteaux since 1997, Château St. Gerlach is part of Oostwegel Collection, a Limburgian family business dedicated to gracious hospitality, artisanal cuisine and historically authentic properties. For more information:


Photos: Etienne van Sloun