Celebrating Successful Partnerships that Deliver Excellence in the Meetings and Events Industry

Behind each successful event is a solid and dependable partnership that seeks to deliver excellence. This IAPCO Driving Excellence Collaboration Award recognises outstanding collaboration in any form, within and across industries and celebrates partnerships that bring excellence to the meetings industry.

The Collaboration Award recognises the importance of effective relationships, recognising the achievement of organisations coming together to achieve a shared goal.

Do you know someone who embodies the qualities mentioned above? Maybe it’s a colleague, client, or supplier who has consistently delivered remarkable results through effective collaboration? If so, we encourage you to nominate them for this coveted award.

The 2024 Collaboration Awards Nominations will open from 15 August 2024.

Criteria/ Rules of Entry

  1. The PCO must be an IAPCO member
  2. The Collaboration can be between the PCO and any of the following:
    • Convention Bureau/Destination
    • Association/Client
    • Convention Centre
    • Supplier
    • Other stakeholders
  3. Collaboration can relate to
    • A Bid
    • A Virtual / Hybrid Event
    • A Congress
    • A long-term working relationship
  4. Entries must be nominated by an IAPCO Member
  5. Entries are limited to one nomination per IAPCO Member Company, but any staff member, whether from a Member Company or a registered Member Office, is eligible.
  6. The collaboration should have occurred since 1st October 2022

Participants do not necessarily need to be bound contractually, however, the achievements should be demonstrable and evidenced.

Entries can be single projects and schemes or wider programmes of work and strategies to support and improve collaboration.


The submission needs to include:

  • 50 words – biographical details of the PCO
  • 50 words – biographical details of the collaborating partner
  • 250-500 words – abstract describing the elements of the collaboration
    • The challenge/reason for the collaboration
    • The solution
    • The outcomes

Submissions should focus on the key activities undertaken to stimulate and promote collaboration, the methods and practices adopted, and the outcomes achieved.

Entrants will explain how collaborative working added value to the project outcomes and what role it played in enhancing relationships and engagement.


The IAPCO Council will judge the entries, based on the written submission as per the given criteria/ rules of entry, noting the degree and complexity of the collaboration, along with any long-term outcomes.

The Award (for each collaborator)

The Collaboration Award 2024 will be presented at the IBTM Leaders Summit in Barcelona on the eve of IBTM World (19 – 21 November 2024).

  • The Collaboration Award Trophy for each collaborator
  • A complimentary registration for IAPCO EDGE Seminar Europe in Porto or registration for IAPCO AM&GA 2025 in Taipei, Taiwan (IAPCO member)
  • 1 x Complimentary registration to attend the IAPCO AM&GA 2025 in Taipei, Taiwan for the winning IAPCO Member
  • Use of the Collaboration Award logo on email signature, stationery, biographical details/CV

Current Winner


Abbey Conference & Events with The International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC), Visit Flanders Convention Bureau (VFCB) and The Flemish Department of Care (FDC)

IAPCO Collaboration Award 2023 winners - Abbey Conference & Events, in collaboration with The International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC), Visit Flanders Convention Bureau (VFCB) and The Flemish Department of Care (FDC) From L-R, Paul Swain (Association Relations Manager, VISITFLANDERS), Chrissy Schroder (Project Manager, ICIC23), Gemmeke de Jongh (International Association Expert, VISITFLANDERS), Martin Boyle (CEO, IAPCO)

From L-R, Paul Swain (Association Relations Manager, VISITFLANDERS), Chrissy Schroder (Project Manager, ICIC23), Gemmeke de Jongh (International Association Expert, VISITFLANDERS), Martin Boyle (CEO, IAPCO)

Abbey Conference & Events, in collaboration with The International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC), Visit Flanders Convention Bureau (VFCB) and The Flemish Department of Care (FDC) have been announced as the winners of the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO)’s Driving Excellence Collaboration Award 2023.

The prestigious award is supported by IBTM and was presented by IAPCO CEO, Martin Boyle at the Meetings Leadership Network during IBTM World on Monday, 27 November 2023 in Barcelona, Spain.
Chrissy Schroder received the award for Abbey Conference and Gemmeke de Jongh and Paul Swain from Visit Flanders Convention Bureau received the award on behalf of their collaborative partner, IFIC.

The winning collaboration was marked by the 23rd International Conference on Integrated Care (ICIC23), held at Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp, Flanders, from 22-24 May 2023. ICIC23 hybrid conference, blending in-person and virtual participation to accommodate a global audience. It focused on the theme ‘Care in Action: How to Work Together, a Participatory Approach’, bringing together leaders, researchers, clinicians, managers, citizens, patients, and caregivers to discuss integrated health and social care.

The collaboration’s goal was to promote integrated care globally, with the event serving as a pilot legacy project. Impact and Engagement Task Forces were established to foster collaboration and create a community of practice, ensuring a lasting impact beyond the conference. The event showcased innovation in policymaking, inclusivity, real-life experiences and patient involvement.

IAPCO President Sarah Markey-Hamm expressed her admiration for the collaboration, stating, “We congratulate Abbey Conference & Events and its collaboration partners for their remarkable achievement. The success of ICIC23 demonstrates the power of collaborative efforts in the events industry, making a positive impact on both local and global communities. This collaboration demonstrates the potential of conferences to drive positive societal change and leave a legacy. Their achievement highlights the transformative potential of partnerships in advancing the mission and vision of the meetings industry.”

Evelyne Bardyn, Head of VISITFLANDERS Convention Bureau, commented on the win, “Victory has many fathers; the Romans already knew. But in the case of the IAPCO Collaboration Award 2023, that is the truth. VISITFLANDERS Convention Bureau is honoured to have worked so closely with IFIC, Abbey Conference & Events, and the Flanders Department of Care. Only together could we cross the Rubicon and fulfil the ambitions of the ICIC23 conference: to create a positive long-term impact for all parties involved.”

Nominated by IAPCO members, the IAPCO Driving Excellence Awards are a trio of awards created by IAPCO to recognise excellence within the IAPCO member community and have long been coveted by those who seek acknowledgement for their quality and contribution to the meetings industry by IAPCO.

The IAPCO Collaboration Award recognises outstanding contributions to the meetings industry, celebrating partnerships that go beyond traditional roles, resulting in impactful and innovative conferences.

“The success of ICIC23 included record delegate numbers and an outstanding long-term impact in the Flanders region, which would have never been possible without the support and collaboration from everyone involved. It has been a true pleasure to work alongside all our collaborators to achieve the intended outcomes. On behalf of the team I sincerely express my heartfelt thanks to all, especially to our long standing partner IFIC, with whom we have developed a trusted relationship that allows such ambitious projects to be undertaken.”  – Chrissy Schroder, ICIC23 project manager.

The winning collaboration between Abbey Conference & Events and its collaborators stood out to the judges from six other nominations for its innovative approach, inclusivity and commitment to creating a lasting positive impact.


  • AIM Group and its Collaborative Partners – 1. European Society of Endodontology (ESE), 2. Messukeskus Helsinki Expo and Convention Center and 3. Helsinki Partners
  • AFEA and its Collaborative Partners – 1. Top Kinisis Conferences and Events Cyprus, 2. Hellenic Thoracic Society and 3. Cyprus Respiratory Society
  • Arinex and Australia ICOMOS
  • Kenes Group and Ortra
  • MCI Middle East LLC and Emirates ENT Society
  • Publi Créations and Dundee City Region Convention Bureau

Previous Winners

2022 – OIC Group and Federcongressi&event

The partnership between OIC Group and Federcongressi&eventi was revealed as the winner of the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) Driving Excellence Collaboration Award 2022 at the presentation ceremony held at the Meetings Leadership Network at IBTM World on Monday, 28 November 2022 in Barcelona, Spain.

The Progetto Mentore initiative, which began in 2010 from the Federcongressi&eventi Learning Center and was supported for the third consecutive year by OIC Group, reflects the strategic objectives of focus on professional development, training and mentoring of young talents that are taking their first steps in the meeting industry. The initiative was created to give practical, concrete training, and every year the project offers young participants the opportunity to develop and enrich their know-how, not just from a theoretical point of view, but also with the requisite practical know-how.

The 20 selected students, from master’s and degree programmes from the main Italian universities, were given the opportunity to liaise with the leading figures from the meetings industry through focused meetings which centred around practical learning and coaching topics. The meetings took place in person during the Federcongressi&eventi Convention, and also online through a series of online meetings.

The objective was to establish a relationship between the students and meetings industry professionals, which on the one side can offer a knowledge enrichment pathway for professional development and training to prepare the future leaders of the sector, and on the other hand to understand the motivation and ideas to drive forward the new generation.

The focused meeting sessions were centred around relatable topics of a typical working day in the event sector, focussed on themes such as personal branding, project management and strategies for creating value for the client.

The main motivation of the Progetto Mentore initiative was to give concrete answers to the student’s doubts, questions and queries.

This was the 10th year of IBTM supporting the Collaboration Award which is part of a trio of Driving Excellence Awards created by IAPCO to recognise excellence within the IAPCO member community.


Collaboration Award winners 2022; Gabriella Gentile of Federcongressi & Nicola Testai of OIC Group

The IAPCO Collaboration Award celebrates partnerships that brings excellence to the meetings industry. It highlights the importance of effective relationships and recognises the achievement of organisations that join together to achieve a shared goal.

“The Progetto Mentore initiative tackles the most burning issue in our industry – attracting new talent. Connecting students with managers and executives from key companies and associations help to develop their theoretical knowledge into practical application. Thereby, bridging the gap between academic theory and industry practice and helping to prepare the next generation of leaders in our industry.”

– Ori Lahav, IAPCO President

“The research and continuous training of talents are two key elements of the strategy and positioning of OIC Group. For me, this project represents the pleasure of contributing to shaping the future: accompanying the next leaders of this industry on a path of knowledge and personal enrichment but at the same time better understanding – thanks to these meetings – the needs and stimuli that can come from a new generation of talents.

– OIC Group CEO, Nicola Testai

“Giving value to the new generation’s personal development that wants to enter the meeting industry sector is an important objective for Federcongressi&eventi in a perspective of growth and overall growth of our sector. Progetto Mentore is surely one of the key projects from this point of view, and this recognition makes us very happy.”

– Gabriella Gentile, President of Federcongressi&eventi

2021 – AFEA and CSR HELLAS


During 2019 and 2018, AFEA endorsed the 10 principles of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and integrated them into the organization’s strategic plan. AFEA wanted to go further and contribute to creating awareness of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development as key elements for the future strategic planning of the Greek Meetings Industry. They became a member of CSR Hellas Network and with its guidance developed the “Sustainable Events” organization service (SDGs 12,8,3,2).

Actions taken under this collaboration created further awareness of the field of Sustainability on a national level, wider promotion of all events on national Media, interviews, education & transfer of knowledge about the need to integrate and empower Sustainable Development to all member companies and executives of Industry Associations.
CSR & AFEA are collaborating currently on the organization of further actions with the aim of further boosting awareness around Sustainable Development.

Shortlisted entries:
  • Kenes Group and European Society of Paediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care (ESPNIC)
  • MCI and Arab Association of Urology (AAU)
  • ICS and The Conference Company

IAPCO President Ori Lahav handing the award to Sissi Lygnou, CEO, AFEA Travel & Congress Services and Ariadne Stagkou-Bell, CSr & Communication Specialist CSR Hellas

“The applications for the IAPCO Collaboration Award were outstanding. But the judging committee agreed the collaboration between AFEA and CSR HELLAS was exceptional because of the broadness of its actions. Sustainability is a key issue for our industry and this collaboration has sparked changes on a national level. It is highly inspirational and aligns with IAPCO commitment to integrate sustainability further in what we do.” 

– Ori Lahav, IAPCO President

We are extremely happy and proud as this award gives us the opportunity to highlight the importance of a valued, long-term collaboration with the network of CSR Hellas, as well as to empower our efforts in creating a greater awareness on the key role of sustainable development in our Industry. As active IAPCO Members, we invest in partnerships which contribute to the shaping of a more sustainable future in the Meetings Industry.”

– Sissi Lygnou, CEO AFEA

“Sustainability is the only future for everyone, and recognizing the value of partnering up with diverse stakeholders provides us with the know-how and skillset to transform this challenge into a fruitful opportunity.”

– Ariadne Stagkou-Bell, CSR & Communication Specialist, CSR HELLAS

2020 – Arinex, Australia and their collaborating partners (Business Events Perth, AIM Group International and the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre)


Winners were announced at the IBTM World Virtual Awards Ceremony.

Shortlisted entries:
  • ICMS, Australia with the Australian Society of Antimicrobials
  • Arinex, Australia with Business Events Perth
  • Conference Partners International with Glasgow Convention Bureau

Collaboration Award 2020

“2020! What a year…The PCO year of innovation, collaboration, resilience, adaptation and forward-thinking. It is time for us to celebrate the triumphs, despite the still challenging climate.

“The winners demonstrated the power of collaboration, where partners and supporters came together for the good of the business events industry to deliver one of the first and largest business events industry hub and spoke events since the COVID19 pandemic: The Turn of Events; Bringing Business Events Back.

“The goodwill and inspiration provided as a collective to event planners and clients supported the announcement of $50 million being provided by the Australian Government to kickstart the industry.”

– Ori Lahav, IAPCO President and VP Client & Operations, Kenes Group 

“We were overwhelmed by the support of a crippling sector to not only assist and back the event, but each made significant financial contribution during the most difficult of times for the benefit of the whole sector. We have been privileged to be part of this group. This award is timely given its international prominence to align with the global Tourism Australia international campaigns which highlight Australia’s strength in safety, sustainability, wide open landscapes, extraordinary adventures and the ability to work together. We look forward to welcoming international business events back to Australia.”

– Nicole Walker, CEO, Arinex 

2019 – K.I.T. Group + KW Conferences


Presented at IBTM Leaders’ Summit.

K.I.T. Group and KW Conferences got together to deliver the 44th ISPAD conference in Hyderabad, India. Core PCO K.I.T. Group needed to find a reliable local partner – an IAPCO quality accredited PCO. KW Conferences was the immediate choice to overcome a number of challenges to be faced, such as operating licences, conference visa applications, financial regulations, receiving registrations in local currencies etc.

Shortlisted entries:
  • MCI Middle East and the IFSO, International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders
  • Japan Convention Services, Inc, the International Gastric Cancer Association, and the Korean Society for Gastric Cancer
Highly Commended:
  • MCI The Netherlands, MCI UK and One Young World
  • AIM Group International and JPdL International

Collaboration Award 2019 winners

“The applications for the IAPCO Collaboration Award this year were exceptional. However, the judging committee all agreed that IAPCO Accredited members K.I.T. Group and KW Conferences highlighted the importance of trusted partners when delivering core contract events. This collaboration displays the value of the IAPCO network, where member companies communicate, exchange knowledge and work together to produce outstanding results for our clients.”

– Mathias Posch, IAPCO President said: 

“It’s been a true pleasure to bring our teams together to work towards a common goal. The ISPAD 2018 Conference in Hyderabad has shown that two PCOs can work on the same project by sharing their know-how without competing, faithful to K.I.T. Group’s motto ‘Synergy & Competence’ and KWC’s vision of ‘Empowering Collaboration’.”

– joint statement from Jocelyne Mülli, CEO of K.I.T. Group GmbH, Germany, K.I.T. Group and KW Conferences, India

2018 – Arinex and The Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Society (IMC)

Announced at the IBTM Leaders Summit, the award entry emphasized the importance of a collaborative approach between the PCO, client and all the sponsors and stakeholders that had excellent results.

Shortlisted entries:
  • OIC Group, Italy and Firenze Convention Bureau
  • MCI Group Brazil and ABDID, Brazilian Association of Infrastructure and Base Industries

IAPCO Collaboration Award 2018 winners

“We are delighted to present the Collaboration award to Arinex and The Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Society. Their application highlighted one of the many benefits of working with a PCO – the 360 approaches to solving challenges using solid expertise and going above and beyond congress delivery.”

– Mathias Posch, President of IAPCO

“This meeting is a highly technical meeting and the technical performance is up there with anything we care to mention. The industry has shown up in droves. We’ve had record-breaking [sponsorship and exhibition] numbers and of course, the collaboration has been deeply impactful.”

– Simon Ringer, Chair of IMC19

2017 - AIM Group International and SIAARTI

Winner of 2017 Collaboration Award

Finalist – 2017 Collaboration Award

Finalist – 2017 Collaboration Award

2016 - International Conference Services Ltd., Tourism Vancouver & Vancouver Convention Centre

Winner of 2016 Collaboration Award

Finalist – 2016 Collaboration Award

Finalist – 2016 Collaboration Award