New model achieves record-breaking sponsorship and exhibition

19th International Microscopy Congress 2018 (IMC19)

Fast facts

Event: 19th International Microscopy Congress 2018 (IMC19)
Date: 9-14 September 2018
Location: Sydney
Venue: ICC Sydney


Exhibitors (sold-out show floor)


The International Microscopy Congress (IMC) takes place every four years and is hosted by the International Federation of Societies for Microscopy (IFSM). In 2014 the IFSM Executive Board selected Sydney, Australia as the site for the 2018 IMC19 with the national host being The Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Society (AMMS). IMC has taken place since the 1940s, bringing together scientific leaders and organisations from across the globe to discuss new research and technology.


A revolutionary approach was needed to convince sponsors, exhibitors and delegates to see past Australia’s geographical distance to attend IMC19. Hosting IMC19 in Sydney meant higher travel costs for international participants while sponsors and exhibitors faced higher logistical costs to transport equipment. To add further challenge, corporate sponsors and exhibitors had indicated poor return on investment (ROI) from previous the IMC Congresses while ICMA Corporate members advised a lack of value in their memberships. As such, a strategy was needed to reinvigorate corporate support, improve IMC19’s financial viability and stimulate membership satisfaction.

Managing IMC19’s highly technical exhibition was also a challenge, requiring an intensive, 4-day bump to calibrate the microscopy instruments. A safe delivery and assembly was critical due to the value of the instruments (estimated to be over A$40 million) and the risks involving gases. It was also large in scale, involving more than 70 exhibiting companies in a sold-out show floor; the biggest exhibition in IMC history. An extra complication was assessing floor vibration, which could have affected the instruments’ accuracy.


Arinex undertook detailed research and feasibility studies to come up with an entirely new business model for IMC. Its aim was to drive growth across both revenue and corporate attendance; to increase ROI for sponsors and exhibitors; to seek out new partnerships and opportunities, as well as strengthen IMC’s corporate member program by making the event more commercially appealing.

A collaborative-driven approach to this was key. Intrinsic to this business model was constant communication with the Organising Committee and, especially, potential sponsors and exhibitors in order to address their concerns and feedback. Driving sponsorship and exhibition wasn’t the only aim either; Arinex wanted to maximise marketing opportunities which would impact delegate attendance, including working with its strategic airline partner Qantas to do that. Media partnerships were established with two global industry publications to drive awareness and reach the target audience.

To manage the exhibition bump-in, Arinex worked alongside its venue partner ICC Sydney to ensure a smooth experience for exhibitors. This included facilitating pre-Congress site inspections with major exhibitors and carrying out vibration tests to ensure the venue was suitable for the valuable equipment. Detailed instructions were also issued ahead of the four-day build to ensure a seamless set-up despite the high volume of exhibitors and associated security requirements.


The outcomes of IMC19 exceeded all expectations, seeing it hailed by the hosts and the Organising Committee Chair as ‘the best IMC held and the most innovative’. The new model saw sponsorship sales reach 300% of targets and led to a record-breaking exhibition, with 70 companies and a sold-out show floor. Tellingly, total sponsorship and exhibition sales for IMC19 were 30% more than IMC18 in Prague. The model will be adopted by future IMC editions.


IMC19 has since been internationally recognised by the International Association for Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO), with its Driving Excellence Award for Collaboration. The award recognises the “solid and dependable partnerships that seek to deliver excellence” in every successful event. It also won the NSW Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) Association Event of the Year Award.

quote To surpass sponsorship and exhibition sales from IMC18 is an outstanding result because the previous congress city Prague is smack bang in the middle of continental Europe and a lot of these companies have headquarters in Europe. It shows the power of an awesome, innovative business model, which has become a new model for the industry.”


IMC19 Congress Chair Simon Ringer

quote One of the best things was your level of flexibility and being able to take on board our requirements. I came to Drew with a proposal, saying can you do some sort of group package? And Arinex was able to come to the party. For us being distributors we could get everyone together in the one area. It has meant we didn’t need to run from corner to corner to see everyone. We can keep everyone on what’s happening for all of our customers – it’s unofficially called the AXT Town. We’ve got a bit of a neighbourhood here.”


Cameron Chai, Marketing and Communications Manager, AXT – an exhibitor

quote Arinex sponsorship and exhibition team arranged a site survey to give us a tour of the facilities a couple of months in advance which was helpful. We were just trying to scope out what the venue looked like and how we could plan our bump in. We had more than $5 million worth of equipment being shipped from 7 different countries and so it was a complex procedure to coordinate, and having prior knowledge of ICC Sydney really helped. During the conference we also held a social event for clients, which Arinex helped us with by arranging transport and guiding delegates, which was definitely useful.”


Dr Rene Hessling, Microscopy Division Manager, Zeiss – a sponsor and exhibitor