R.I.M. Porter Novelli

Promotion and organization of the 33rd Global Conference on IASP Science Parks in Moscow


Task

Development of innovations is a prerequisite for leadership in the modern world. This is definitely applied to Russia bearing the image of a “raw material” country for years and striving to become a leader in the field of high technologies. This issue has become more acute since 2014, the year of foreign political pressure and economic sanctions, when the country was focused on import substitution and had to put much effort into developing domestic projects in many fields and to improve, in this way, its international standing. However, driven by the development of innovations, Russia faced numerous obstacles within the country, including image ones: witnessing massive investment in this field, the public at large expected instantaneous and impressing results in the form of new domestic start-ups ready to conquer the world. Experts knew that progress needed time, but the public were not so enthusiastic, as it seemed then, about domestic innovations.

The leading role in the technology and innovation development process is assigned to the innovation infrastructure in the form of science parks and innovation development areas. IASP, a worldwide network of science parks and areas of innovation that connects around 400 science parks worldwide, is an important tool for integrating Russian science parks into the global innovation environment and extending the international cooperation in the field of innovations.

Since 2010, IASP has been organizing the World Conference on Science Parks and Areas of Innovation. Every year the largest cities worldwide compete in pursuit of the right to host the next IASP conference. In 2014 Moscow filed an application to hold the IASP 2016 conference. Skolkovo, as one of the first and leading science parks in Russia, was responsible for participating in the competition and organizing the event. IASP conference as one of the large-scale world events of the industry was to give the Russian participants the unique opportunity not just to extend the network of global partners and to share experience with their colleagues worldwide, but to demonstrate the innovation potential of the country revealing that, despite the unfavourable political environment abroad, Russia was still in the front line of technological progress. The event gave the perfect chance to improve the image of the Russian innovation industry both domestically and internationally, while the Russian participants could promote the image of Moscow as the technological capital of Russia supported by growing regional centres of technological development (cities of Kazan, Novosibirsk and others).

In this respect, the agency had the following goals and tasks:

Communication goals:

  • to demonstrate the potential of the Russian innovation industry;
  • to promote the image of Russia in general and Moscow in particular as one of the leading global centres of high technology development;
  • to highlight Skolkovo Fund and Technopark as a reliable and prospective partner for Russian and foreign colleagues and residents;
  • to make it publicly known that Moscow is the capital of Russian innovations.

Business goals:

  • sharing experience with foreign colleagues;
  • extending international cooperation in the field of innovations (establishing business contacts, attracting investments, signing partnership agreements between Russian and foreign science parks, between science parks and prospective residents and others).

Tasks:

  1. To get the right to hold the IASP 2016 conference in Moscow.
  2. To increase, as much as possible, the number of Russian and foreign guests participating in the conference.
  3. To hold the event at the highest level meeting the international standards of the industry.

Solution

Communication strategy

In 2014 during the IASP conference in Qatar the members of the IASP General Assembly voted on the place to host IASP 2016. The ultimate goal of the campaign, from the moment of filing an application for the competition, was to involve participants and make them expect the forthcoming event in Moscow.

A three-year stage-by-stage communication plan was elaborated, and it included a chain of events.

I. October 2014, the 31st IASP Global Conference, Doha, Qatar: promotion of Moscow as a candidate for hosting the IASP 2016 conference. An impressive and vivid presentation was made demonstrating the advantages of Moscow as a prospective host of the conference; this presentation was as informative, easy to understand and convincing as possible; and it described the innovation infrastructure of Russia to the global industrial society and proved that innovations were on the rise in Russia despite the political pressure from abroad.

II. (In case Moscow won the competition to hold the conference). September 2015, the 32nd IASP Global Conference, Beijing, China: raising awareness about Moscow as the city hosting the next IASP conference, and encouraging prospective participants to become part of it. Inspiring loyalty among participants towards the forthcoming event.

III. September 2016, the 33rd IASP Global Conference, Moscow: campaign culmination. Organizing the event in a way exceeding the expectations of the guests.

Key messages:

  • Moscow is a modern and welcoming city; it has everything needed to host major international conferences and organize them up to the highest standards.
  • Moscow is the capital of Russian innovations and one of the world capitals of innovations.
  • Russia has considerable potential for innovations; presently, it has all the necessary means to demonstrate high-technology developments meeting the international standards and shows interest in active cooperation with the leading global players of the innovation industry.

Tactics, creative solutions

  • Every event of the campaign had its own original style based on visual motives and images associated with Russia, which were known and liked worldwide. At the same time, this style was modern, balanced and clear; it highlighted the technological and ecological nature of the event and had been developed according to the status and standards of the leading world conferences of the industry. On the whole, the design and content of the events were created to exceed the positive expectations of foreign guests regarding Moscow and Russia, rather than to meet them: to exhibit the national identity known and expected by foreign colleagues (Russian ornaments, abundant meals and etc.) and to concurrently demonstrate that the country had changed and did not lag behind the time and that it had enormous potential for innovations.
  • Skolkovo Technopark, as a “golden sponsor” of the IASP 2014 conference in Qatar, put emphasis on the readiness of Moscow to host the conference in 2016 and provided more information about the prospective host of the event.
  • Privilege cards (personal information media enabling delegates to visit the most popular places of interest and recreation of the Russian capital) were issued to inspire anticipation of the trip to Moscow already at the competition stage and create an associative bond between IASP 2016 and Moscow. Privilege cards symbolized hospitality and respect; they reflected how important the guests were for the host and how scrupulous the latter was about the event doing utmost to make the stay of the delegates in Moscow as comfortable and pleasant as possible. In their turn, participants bearing such cards “gave a vote”, in a way, for Moscow and joined the “club” of the guests of the forthcoming event feeling that they were a part of it.

Practical actions

I. The application of Moscow as a candidate for hosting the 33rd IASP 2016 conference was presented on October 19-22, 2014, at the 31st IASP Global Conference in Doha, Qatar.

  • An exhibition stand dedicated to Moscow was prepared for the event; it was picturesque, eye-catching but altogether reserved. St. Basil’s Cathedral was used as the main theme for decorations of the stand and souvenirs; the cathedral was imprinted with large pixels (like a zoomed picture on a PC screen). The stand displayed details about Moscow and its science parks, Skolkovo, Strogino, Moscow State University and others.
  • Russian Soiree, the evening reception for the delegates, became the final and most exciting part of the Moscow presentation for IASP 2014. The event was organized using the “magic Russian winter” topic as one of the most vivid and breathtaking images associated with Russia. The winter topic looked particularly advantageous considering the hosting place: it was extraordinary for Qatar with its hot climate.
  • The reception room was decorated with ice sculptures and winter installations and was covered with real snow.
  • In the entertainment zones the Snow Maiden offered the guests to take pictures in the national winter costumes against the banner with the landscapes of a Russian forest covered with snow. The guests were impressed by skomorokhs jumping high in the air in their “seven-league boots”, by Russian bogatyrs inviting the guests to test their muscles and by Vasilisa the Wise boasting “the wonder of wonders, the miracle of miracles”, a Displair (an interactive screenless display projecting the image into the air).
  • The concert programme consisted of Russian folk music and dance performances (including a DJ-set with remixes of popular Russian songs).
  • More than 300 IASP members worldwide were granted privilege cards of an IASP 2016 Moscow delegate.
  • The official presentation of the Moscow application was given at the general meeting of IASP members (in the form of a video clip).

At the end of the event, the IASP General Assembly members voted in favour of Moscow as a host of the 33rd World Conference on Science Parks and Areas of Innovation.

II. At the 32rd IASP Conference held in Beijing on September 22-25, 2015, it was necessary to attract even more attention to the next-year conference and involve as many delegates as possible.

  • The event in Beijing was the reason for developing the IASP 2016 Moscow brand book that served as a basis for decorations of the exhibition stand of the 33rd Conference at IASP 2015. Ecotech was the right word for the brand style of the forthcoming event: it reflected the “green” technologies and the Russian nature; the IASP 2016 Moscow logotype contained domes of a Russian church with their shape resembling leaves and dew drops; the stand was made of environment friendly materials (wood, natural fabric) in natural colours (shades of green, blue and wood); the hostesses wore kokoshniks also shaped as a green leaf and etc.
  • IASP 2015 participants were presented with eco-souvenirs: honey jars, blankets, canvas bags.
  • During the Beijing Conference the guests saw a presentation of the official IASP 2016 Moscow website.

III. The 33rd IASP Global Conference was held in Moscow on September 19-22, 2016. The World Trade Centre was the main site of the event.

IASP 2016 Moscow programme:

  • Business programme: 19 plenary sessions attended by 64 speakers including Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of Russia.
  • Exhibition of the world science parks.
  • Robofest, a display of robot equipment, developments of companies which are residents of Moscow science parks.
  • Business meetings of IASP members.
  • Individual meetings of the conference participants.
  • Evening events:

-a welcoming reception at Skolkovo:

-a festive informal dinner at Krasnay Presnya park.

IASP guidelines, event brand book requirements and site qualities (several floors, a construction area of 2,600 sq.m) were to be considered when the main site of the conference was organized. The ecotech style was also used in all decorations of the event; it was simple, environment friendly, modern and referring to high technologies. The general brand style of the conference was applied to the stands of the participating science parks and Robofest zone.

Evening events were in the focus of attention with a chance for the participants to enjoy informal conversations. The concept of those events helped to go beyond binding business frames and come forward with creative solutions that would leave strong aesthetic feelings among the guests, would contribute to their plunging into the atmosphere and culture of the country, and would strengthen (first of all, influencing their emotions) and further promote the messages about Moscow and Russia sent during the business programme.

Due to the concept of the evening events of IASP 2016, the contemporary achievements of Russia and its cultural heritage were smoothly connected: those were demonstrations of a creative potential of the country in different forms in different historical periods.

The Russian avant-garde, one of the schools of modernism in Russia, was chosen as the theme of the welcoming reception at Skolkovo Technopark; this school is still popular and known worldwide (besides, 2016 was the 150th anniversary of the birth of Vasiliy Kandinskiy). Like the avant-garde in art in the first quarter of the 20th century, Russia has the same avant-garde period in the development of technologies and innovations at the beginning of the 21st century. This concept was clear to all participants, on the one hand, and was not as trivial and familiar as commonly-used Russian folk motifs, on the other hand.

Reproductions of pictures of avant-garde artists were used for the decorations of the site. Glass installations with colourful suprematic figures inside were the focus of everybody’s attention, and right beside them, shifting from one installation to another, concert performances were given (in the spirit of the avant-garde the event had no fixed stage; instead, it rose at the place of performance). The concert programme combined artists of traditional and modern styles, the variety included balalaika, indie, beatbox and other performances.

The installations were also surrounded by entertainment zones:

  • One of them had a mixture of traditional and modern art: craftswomen embroidered mini pictures for the guests according to the sketches with the themes of avant-garde pictures.
  • Another zone had an artist who painted portraits of the guests.
  • The third zone contained a picture to be painted piece by piece by the visitors working together to see the final result, the image of the Shukhov Tower.
  • The evening ended with the joint efforts of the participants as well, when they composed a hymn of the event and performed it on electronic musical instruments.

The second evening festive reception held at Krasnay Presnya park was called the Russian Park. The hospitality and national specific features of Russia were highlighted during the event where the complex image of Moscow as a cultural, scientific and economical capital was fortified. “A country of traditions and discoveries” as the idea of the event said. Russia is famous for its rich culture and scientific breakthroughs, as well as spiritual immensity and generosity. And our country will preserve its warm atmosphere and identity at any time regardless of the rapid and steady pace of development of the technological progress.

Event zones:

  • A park of art with interactive symbolic installations dedicated to the topic of inventions of Russian scientists in the fields of space, genetics and others, and with art items representing the traditions and history of Russia (a gigantic LED Russian doll and a photo area in the form of a huge book of the Russian history taking the guests to any page of the national history).
  • “Mendeleev bar” treated the guests with sophisticated molecular drinks and in-house cocktails provided by science parks and called “Skolkovo Hypercube”, “Nano Sapphire”, “Growing Point” and others.
  • The Russian fair: dishes of the Russian traditional cuisine, shows of fair musicians, ancient national games, exhibition of Russian household items.
  • The Russian yard as the central place of the action, a covered lounge zone made of large polygonal spherical tents.

The show programme of the event included performances of a folk group and a band practising an unconventional style of jazz cover comprising numerous genres, from the folk to the rock, jazz and hi-hop music.

Results

  • IASP 2016 Moscow Global Conference set a record in the number of participants: for the first time ever, the IASP event was visited by 1700 delegates from 75 countries worldwide (the previous count made no more than 1000 people), the attendance boosted by 70%!
  • 252 foreign science parks took part in the event, the number stood for 65% of science parks worldwide!
  • Over 1000 business meetings were held and attended by residents and representatives of science parks of Moscow and other Russian and foreign companies and science parks.
  • More than 100 foreign companies applied to Skolkovo to participate in the Soft Landing programme.
  • 496 start-ups applied to be part of programmes of Russian science parks.
  • Over 35 agreements were signed for implementation of large-scale investment projects. For instance, just one agreement covers the investment of EUR60 million in the construction of a Finnish biotechnological park in the Skolkovo territory. Several tens of millions of euros will be also invested to create a joint research centre with the Iranian university.
  • The conference received positive comments from the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Arkady Dvorkovich, and the President of IASP, Josep Pique.
  • The working group which had prepared the event in Moscow was invited to take part in the organization process of IASP 2018 Isfahan in Iran.
  • The project won the nomination “The Best Business Event of the Year” of the Golden Puzzle 2016 Award in the field of special event organization.

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