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Friday, April 11, 2014

Inverness the natural choice for £500k conference

The Inverness economy is set to receive a £500,000 boost when hundreds of biotechnology experts from around the world gather at the city’s Eden Court Theatre.

Supported by the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund, the Natural Product Biotechnology conference will see a number of academics discuss the industry’s role in products for the nutraceutical, functional food, and cosmeceutical markets, as well as in the development of new drugs.

The three-day event will run from 18-20 November, building on the success of previous Natural Products Scotland conferences which have been run by Highlands and Islands Enterprise since 2009. This year’s event is also supported by the Inverness Common Good Fund, administered by Highland Council.

As the Highlands and Islands of Scotland supports a rich source of natural products and active compounds, Inverness was seen as ideally placed to host the event. Around 400 delegates will be in attendance.

Jim Brown, Director of the conference, said:“Scotland’s land and coastline is home to some outstanding natural assets, and in our universities we have global experts and world-class research into the ecology of our landscape and marine environment. Couple that with innovative businesses and ground-breaking research, and you start to build significant economic opportunities. With governments here and around the world encouraging low-carbon, bio-based economies, we have the perfect combination of time and place to hold an event to support the various strands of this rapidly-developing sector.”

David Higgins of the Formulation Science & Technology Group (FSTG), one of the supporters of the conference, said: “The FSTG has been organising conferences both in the UK and internationally for a number of years usually involving the formulations based on raw materials taken from oil-based feedstocks.

“As the price of oil increases and becomes a scarcer commodity, so we should all be thinking of using alternative sources of raw materials extracted from green and sustainable raw materials. I am therefore delighted that the FSTG is able to work with Jim Brown to organise and promote Natural Product Biotechnology 2014.”

Kerry Watson, Associations Marketing Manager at VisitScotland’s Business Tourism Unit, said:“We were delighted to be able to help bring the Natural Product Biotechnology conference to Inverness through the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund.

“The Conference Bid Fund highlights the long-term potential and sustainable nature of business tourism and business events.

“Events such as Natural Product Biotechnology conference are hugely important to Scotland’s visitor economy, providing a boost for accommodation providers and restaurants and I am sure the event will help to highlight Inverness’s appeal as a fantastic leisure destination and place to do business.”

Set up in 2012, the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund has helped to secure conferences in Scotland with a predicted spend by attendees of £106 million.

So far, 46 international association conferences – going up to the year 2021 – have been secured from Bid Fund investments totalling £936,000. This has been match-funded by local authorities from around the country for selected not-for-profit conferences.

The conferences, which are expected to attract a total of around 62,000 delegates, cover everything from life sciences and education to food and drink and renewable energy.

Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee, have all been making use of the Bid Fund, with other conferences taking place in the likes of Perth, St Andrews, Stornoway and Shetland.