Christchurch wins international biochemistry congress

Christchurch has won hosting rights for the Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists and Molecular Biologists (FAOBMB) conference in 2021, the first time New Zealand has hosted the triennial event.

The prestigious life sciences congress will bring up to 900 leading biochemists including 12 international plenary speakers to meet at the new Christchurch Convention Centre for five days in November 2021.

ChristchurchNZ Destination Manager, Caroline Blanchfield says the economic impact for the city is expected to be $1.9 million, with further regional benefits from smaller off-site meetings. Many delegates are expected to stay on and tour the South Island with their partners and families.

“Our Christchurch Centre appealed to the Federation because of its exceptional design and premium location. We offered them a stunning venue in the centre of New Zealand’s newest city, and at the centre of the South Island. Nothing else matches this experience,” she says.

Congress Chair Dr Wayne Patrick, Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Victoria University presented the Christchurch bid at the Federation meeting in December in Kobe, Japan. He says valuable support to produce the winning bid came from Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) Business Events, through its Conference Assistance Programme (CAP), and from the ChristchurchNZ Convention Bureau.

“The international organisers were excited by an attractive, walkable city and the opportunity to experience New Zealand’s bucket list destinations. In less than two hours you are in beautiful and remote parts of the South Island."

Dr Wayne Patrick, Associate Professor of Biochemistry, Victoria University

"Previous meetings have been held in large Asian cities – such as Bangkok, Hyderabad and Seoul – and Christchurch provided a sharp contrast. The rebirth of Christchurch and the story behind it are big drawcards for delegates too,” Dr Patrick says.

The New Zealand Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (NZSBMB) is partnering with other key New Zealand and Australian societies. “Each one will bring its own flavour and hold their annual meetings here, giving us real critical mass and diversity of ideas.”

Parallel symposia include the Young Scientist Programme, where 60 early career researchers plus their senior mentors will meet at Flock Hill Station near Arthur’s Pass before the main congress.

“Bringing FAOBMB to New Zealand in 2021 will foster interactions and collaboration within the Australasian and Asian regions, as well as providing an excellent opportunity to showcase our research to an international audience,” Dr Patrick says.

TNZ Manager Business Events and Premium Lisa Gardiner, says this is another great result for Christchurch and wider New Zealand.

“Conferences like this contribute millions to the economy every year and allow New Zealand the opportunity to showcase our world class event offering. It also highlights the vast range of expertise New Zealand can share with the world, in this case molecular life sciences."

Lisa Gardiner, International Business Event and Premium Manager, Tourism New Zealand

“Targeting the international business events sector is an important part of Tourism New Zealand’s strategy to grow the value of international visitors to New Zealand. Business events and incentive delegates have the potential to spread visitors across the off-peak season, support employment and bring significant economic benefit to the country,” she says.

Caroline Blanchfield says the Christchurch Centre will easily accommodate the requirements of the FAOBMB Congress. The plenary lectures will be held in the main auditorium which seats 1,400 delegates. There are 24 meeting rooms for concurrent sessions for up to 2,000 people, as well as 4,600 square metres of flexible common spaces with capacity for 3,500. The 3300 square metre exhibition hall can accommodate up to 3,000.

Other international events already been confirmed for the new Convention Centre include the 2021 Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) International Biology Symposium, bringing 350 of the world’s top Antarctic scientists to Christchurch.