Maastricht Convention Bureau

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A word from the Expert: Prof. dr. Luc Zimmermann

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 Prof. Dr. Luc J.I. Zimmermann | Head of the Department of Paediatrics, School for Oncology and Developmental Biology (GROW), Maastricht UMC+.


1. Why did you choose your specialism?

“At school I liked exact sciences but was also interested in helping people. Between my choices of physics, engineering and medicine I went for the latter. During medical studies my interest went mainly to physiology and I did not like so much the more ‘one organ oriented’ specialties like ophthalmology, dermatology nor the specialties that had less patient contact like radiology or pathology. On the other hand I liked the more general specialties as internal medicine, surgery and paediatrics. As I also liked to work with children the choice was easy. In paediatrics there are about 15 subspecialties for ex. paediatric cardiology, paediatric oncology, social paediatrics etc…. but again I did not like so much the one organ oriented subspecialties. In neonatology I found the action of intensive care medicine together with the fast developmental aspects and physiological understanding combined with many new and innovating techniques and ethical dilemmas. The field of neonatology moves fast and within the field of paediatrics neonatal research is one of the largest fields. During my neonatal fellowship in Toronto my research interest focussed on the development of the preterm lung, on which I did my PhD and afterwards continued my research.”


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

“In the recent past my colleague in obstetrics, Prof. Jan Nijhuis, and I organised 2 conferences in Maastricht: the Fetal and Neonatal Physiology (FNPS) meeting in 2008 and the European Congress of Perinatal Medicine (ECPM) in 2016. The FNPS is a small conference of about 150 participants which makes it very interactive with lots of discussions, the ECPM is a larger more classic conference of about 1500 participants which took place in MECC Maastricht. It was Prof. Jan Nijhuis who succeeded in acquiring both to Maastricht, but as we organised them together I learned a lot.

Charles Beckers, Business Development Manager at MECC Maastricht at the time, stimulated me to also bring the conference of the European Society for Paediatric Research (ESPR) to Maastricht, especially because I am the president of that society. In the meantime our congress has become a bi-annual combined meeting with other societies to the ‘Joined European Neonatal Societies’ (jENS) congress, held first in Budapest in 2015 with 2200 participants and this year (2017) it will be held in Venice. It is by far the largest neonatal conference in Europe and probably worldwide. We succeeded in acquiring it to Maastricht in MECC Maastricht in 2019. The historic and Burgundian, gastronomic character of Maastricht with the known name related to the ‘Treaty of Maastricht’ and the nice conference centre were strong points. It certainly helped a lot that MECC Maastricht and the Maastricht Convention Bureau prepared strong PR material as folders, slide presentations and movies about Maastricht, MECC Maastricht and our proposed conference. The strong role of the Netherlands in neonatal research and within ESPR played also an important role, including my role as president for the last 5 years.

Finally, Prof. Jan Nijhuis and I acquired together the FNPS conference again in 2018, which we will organise at the special occasion of the retirement of Jan.”


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

“Other well-known conference cities have submitted bids as well. For the ESPR/JENS conference cities as Paris, Lyon, Prague, Lisbon, several German cities including Berlin were considered. Important factors in the decision were the selling points mentioned but also good timing in relation to the rotation through different parts of Europe, the excellent presentations prepared by the Maastricht Convention Bureau and MECC Maastricht and the active involvement of myself and several Dutch neonatologist in the society.

For the FNPS the success the success of the 2008 edition in Maastricht helped a lot as well as the active involvement of obstetrics and neonatology from Maastricht, now and in the past.”


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

“The ESPR/JENS conference will shed light on new developments in neonatology from many perspectives such as the researcher, the clinical neonatologist, the nurse, the parents (as also the EFCNI is involved, which is the organisation that represents parents of neonates from all over Europe). New therapies such as stem cell therapy for asphyxia and neonatal lung disease will be discussed next to ethical differences in Europe, family centered care, care in the delivery room for extreme preterm infants, basic research in neonatal problems as severe lung and gut problems, asphyxia, brain damage, etcetera.”


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

“The MCB coordinates the actions of many partners in Maastricht around conferences so that great conditions can be offered to congress organisers and participants. The enormous support in making bidbooks and presentations to acquire conferences in Maastricht was mentioned already and cannot be underestimated. I would also like to thank the MCB for their support during site visits and helping with any questions I had. We had great conferences already and I look forward to the FNPS in 2018 and especially to the ESPR/JENS conference in MECC Maastricht in 2019!!”


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In the spotlight: Hans Gubbels

Each month, we aim our spotlight at one of our regional partners. What are the developments within their company? What are the challenges? In short: you will not only get to know the person better, but also the company where he or she works. This month’s In the spotlight guest is Hans Gubbels, Director of Museumplein Limburg (the organization behind Columbus, Cube and Continium):

1. Why did you choose the position you have now?

“Since I was young my ambition was to create meaningful things, not only on paper, but in real life. A study in mechanical engineering seemed the ideal basis for that. After graduating and a few years  at the R&D department of Océ, I started my career in the world of rides for amusement parks and world exhibitions. I worked at Vekoma as product manager, but soon started  my own company,  designing  thematic rides, experiences and exhibitions. This gave me the chance to create many beautiful projects all over the world. Change is in my blood, so after 10 years of growth, I decided to sell my company and start my own design consultancy agency. That kept me away from home a lot and there was a risk I would turn into a “lone ranger”. By chance I saw the ad of Industrion (predecessor of Continium): they were looking for a new director. The opportunity of combining museology, the  world of science and technology, visitor experiences and amazement and relevance for society, appealed to me at once. In 2004 I started in Kerkrade.”

2. What are the most recent developments within your company? (HR/renovation plans etc.)

“At the end of 2015 we opened two new visitor centres on the Museumplein. Next to Continium we now also operate Columbus earth center for which we were inspired by the experience of astronauts when looking to our earth for out of space for the first time, the so- called “Overview Effect” . The other one, Cube design museum, is the first museum of the Netherlands which is fully dedicated to design. While building our new premises we specifically kept the events and conventions market in mind. In Continium we already gained some experience in renting our spaces to third parties, but on a limited scale as we did not have dedicated areas and our first priority was and still are our visitors. Welcoming a business group and at the same time educating a class of eight year olds was not always a good combination. So in designing the buildings for the new cultural cluster on the Museumplein in Kerkrade we asked the architects to create space to receive groups apart from our daily visitors. Now we are approaching the MICE market with a large spectrum of multifunctional spaces in which meetings, parties and the likes can be organised. This event branch is organised as a separate business unit apart from our museum activities.”

3. Which challenges are you facing?

“After the opening of our cluster with all its possibilities at the of 2015 it was tempting to sit back and enjoy the new situation for a while. Our constant challenge and goal is to keep looking at the future and to keep up with new developments to stay relevant for our audiences as we engage visitors with the changing world around them.  Also towards the MICE market we want to stay innovative and keep surprising our clients.”

4. What have you achieved, of which you are most proud?

“I am most proud of the fact that we have been able to keep visitor numbers for both our museums and our business events growing. When I first started here we had about 30.000 visitors a year, now we are heading towards over 150.000 visitors for 2017 , a clear indicator for the relevance of our work). Thanks to the support of the Province of Limburg and other partners who believe in our views, we are able to keep developing ourselves into a successful  cultural entrepreneurial organization.”

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

“The knowledge and network that are gathered through the MCB are of great value to us as a relatively new player on the business market. As a location that is situated in the regio around Maastricht we appreciate it that the MCB makes an effort to promote the entire region as the “place to be” when it comes to a destination for meetings and conferences. The combination of Maastricht as a city and the characteristics of the surrounding region create strength for our mutual future.”


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23rd Annual meeting European Association of Archaeologists in Maastricht

From Wednesday 30 August to Saturday 2 September, the prestigious international conference of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) takes place in Maastricht. In MECC Maastricht, around 2,000 archaeologists from around the world will gather, follow an impressive program and can choose from 175 sessions. Beside these sessions, there is a social program that takes place in Limburg and in the Euregio.

The EAA has 2,500 members from over 50 countries of all continents, making it the second largest archaeological association in the world.
The congress was co-founded with the support of the Province of Limburg.

Maastricht: building bridges
This 23rd EAA congress has the theme of Building Bridges and Sint Servaasbrug, which inspires the logo and the theme. We do not only build bridges in time, but also bridges across rivers, borders and cultures. After all, we are looking back at 25 years of Valetta’s treaty and 25 years of Maastricht Treaty: Europe Calling!

Program for residents and visitors of the city
During the EAA, meetings, activities and exhibitions will take place in various places. The following is an overview.
On Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September there are free activities that will take place around the Kesselskade.

Roman patrol ship
A replica of a Liburna (Roman patrol ship) is docked at the shipping company Stiphout, and can you experience it as rowers how the Roman Navy patrolled the Maas 2000 years ago.

Other activities
There is also a Roman harbor on the Maasboulevard. Here are a number of Roman craftsmen on Saturday and Sunday at work and soldiers will monitor the ship. In the Taberna (Roman pub) are delights to taste from the 1st century.

Pioneers Exhibition
‘PIONEERS’ is a theme exhibition on the occasion of the 23rd Annual Meeting of the EAA / European Association of Archaeologists in Maastricht. The exhibition is about the fascination for discovering, excavating and re-showing of what is hidden.

Meet the Pro!
The presence of 2,000 archaeologists from all over the world at the EAA congress offers the opportunity to ask renowned archaeologists to engage with public and students. 2 Students Archaeological Heritage Management of UM will give a short presentation of the theme of their master’s thesis.

Designation of Roman bridge to national monument
The remains of the Roman bridge on the bottom of the Maas can be regarded as the cradle of Maastricht: without that bridge, Maastricht had never become Maastricht. The bridge is still a subject of archaeological research by divers of Mergor in Mosam from Cuijck. More and more remains of the bridge rinse freely and erode. A sustainable solution for this must be sought. A first step is the status of protected National Monument.