Recognising Innovative Solutions in the Meetings and Events Industry

The IAPCO Innovation Award recognises and celebrates those at the forefront of innovation, helping to raise the standards of professionalism across the meetings industry. It serves as a platform to showcase the work of these trailblazers and encourages further innovation within the events sector.

Finding creative solutions to overcome the frequent challenges encountered when organising an international congress is a day-to-day occurrence. The Innovation Award recognises those who use their initiative to find innovative solutions to overcome these challenges.

Have you come across someone who has revolutionized the way events are organized? Someone who has introduced groundbreaking ideas, technologies, or strategies that have significantly enhanced the event experience? Now is your chance to honour their remarkable contributions by nominating them for the IAPCO Driving Excellence Innovation Award.

The 2025 Innovation Award nominations for events that took place in 2024 will open from 15 November 2024 with the entry deadline of 15 March 2025.

The winner will be announced in May 2025 at the gala evening at IMEX Frankfurt.

Criteria/ Rules of Entry

  1. Any individual engaged as a full-time employee of an IAPCO Member is eligible to be nominated.
  2. 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.
  3. The submission should be for an event that took place in 2023.
  4. Nominations must be received by 15th March 2024.


The submission needs to include:

  • 50 words – biographical details of the individual nominee
  • 50 words – biographical details of the PCO Member
  • 50 words – about the event (if applicable to an event)
  • 250-500 words – abstract describing the use of innovation:
    • Outline of the challenge
    • The approach and solution to the challenge
    • The outcome


The IAPCO Council will judge the entries, based on the written submission noting the degree and complexity of the challenge and the outcome of the innovation.

The winner will receive two tickets to attend the IMEX Frankfurt Gala Evening where they will be presented the Innovation Award.

The Award Winner

  • Innovation Award presented to the individual winner on behalf of their company at the IMEX gala evening in Frankfurt.
  • A complimentary registration for the winning individual to attend the IAPCO Annual Meeting in Taipei, Taiwan in 2025.
  • Use of the Innovation Award logo on email signature, stationery, biographical details/CV.


Current Winner

2022 – Ms Audrey Alloul, Chief Digital Officer for Unlok Education by Kenes Group

Audrey Alloul, Chief Digital Officer at Kenes Group with the Innovation Award trophy

Kenes Group CEO, Ori Lahav with Nia Zárate Angarita who received the award on behalf of her colleague Audrey Alloul, Chief Digital Officer at Kenes Group

Kenes Group CEO, Ori Lahav with Nia Zárate Angarita who received the award on behalf of her colleague Audrey Alloul

Kenes Group, a leading global meetings and events organiser, is announced as the winner of the 2022 IAPCO Innovation Award for its Unlok Education platform at a gala Awards evening on Wednesday, 24th May at the IMEX 2023.

The Innovation Award judges picked Unlok Education as the most innovative new product or service in the meetings and events industry in 2022 from the nominations submitted.

Audrey Alloul is the current Chief Digital Officer, in charge of the recently created Digital Department at Kenes and, subsequently, the development of Unlok – the visionary online educational platform for healthcare professionals . Audrey has been part of Kenes for over 17 years holding several leadership positions.

Unlok Education is an AI-powered video library that integrates several technologies into an easy-to-navigate, cross-specialities learning space. The platform allows healthcare professionals to access Continuing Medical Education (CME) – accredited content from Kenes’ Original Events, the Global Education of Medicine and Science – GEMS Association, and other leading medical organizations.

Unlok Education was created in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the cancellation or postponement of many in-person medical congresses. Kenes Group was committed to enabling a platform for medical collaboration and advancement no matter what, and Unlok Education is the result of that commitment.

Unlok Education uses algorithm-based matching systems and artificial intelligence to facilitate the knowledge exchange between users themselves and between users and speakers. It automatically generates captions and translations to 120 different languages, identifies highlights of keynotes in the speakers’ speech, and accurately recommends similar content to create personalized CME-accredited learning programs based on users’ searches.

Unlok Education is currently available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Chinese. The platform will be translated into additional languages in the coming months.

On winning the Award, Audrey said, “This award represents both the recognition of 1.5 years of the Digital Team working hard to materialize a vision that is only possible thanks to our six decades of expertise and knowledge about the continuous learning journey of healthcare professionals and the momentum of our Unlok Education space – designed to be a turning point in the field of continuous medical education. We understand the great value that the IAPCO Driving Excellence Awards hold within the associative sector and it is an honour for me to receive the Innovation Award on behalf of Kenes Group and everyone involved in the Unlok Education project. Without a doubt, this accolade has already awakened significant interest in Unlok Education and I am very much looking forward to further sharing insights about it in Ljubljana, Slovenia, at the next IAPCO Annual Meeting.”

Ori Lahav, CEO of Kenes Group added, “We are honoured to be recognized by IAPCO for our innovation in the field of CME. Unlok Education is a game-changer for healthcare professionals who are looking for a convenient, effective, and engaging way to stay up to date on the latest medical knowledge.”

The IAPCO Innovation Award is presented annually to the organization that has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of the meetings and events industry. The award is judged by a panel of industry experts.

“Innovation is crucial to the success of any organisation and Kenes Group is a true innovator in the meetings and events industry,” said Sarah Markey-Hamm, President of IAPCO. “Unlok Education is a ground-breaking platform that will revolutionize the way healthcare professionals access CME. This brilliant innovation has created endless opportunities for professional development and cross-speciality knowledge exchange between healthcare professionals around the world. We are proud to recognize Kenes Group with the IAPCO Innovation Award.”

The IAPCO Innovation Award winner received the prestigious trophy as well as a complimentary registration and speaker’s slot to attend the IAPCO Annual Meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2024.

IAPCO Driving Excellence Awards are presented annually and have long been coveted by those who seek acknowledgement for their quality and contribution to the meetings industry by IAPCO.

The award was presented by IAPCO President, Sarah Markey-Hamm to Nia Zárate Angarita who received it on behalf of her colleague Audrey Alloul, Chief Digital Officer at Kenes Group

The award was presented by IAPCO President, Sarah Markey-Hamm to Nia Zárate Angarita who received it on behalf of her colleague Audrey Alloul, Chief Digital Officer at Kenes Group

Innovation Award 2023 awards presentation

Innovation Award 2023 awards presentation

Innovation Award 2023 awards presentation

The IAPCO table at the IMEX awards night with the representatives from the finalists sat together

Previous Winners

2021 (awarded in 2022)

Ms Hyojung Ok, EZpmp, South Korea

IAPCO Innovation Award winner Ms Hyojung Ok of EZpmp receiving the award at IMEX Frankfurt 2022 Gala Dinner

For Ms Hyojung Ok’s use of innovative digital technology to deliver a flawless carbon-neutral event to a virtual audience at the P4G Summit in Korea in 2021.

Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G), the first multilateral environmental event to be hosted by the Korean government, the virtual summit brought together government representatives and international organisations to focus on the theme of ‘Inclusive Green Recovery Towards Carbon Neutrality’.

The summit was delivered virtually using 5G wireless technology and in the spirit of inclusivity, innovation, and sustainability, used real-time augmented reality to provide delegates with an immersive experience while showcasing Korea’s culture and natural habitat.

2020 (awarded in 2021)

Jakel Lin with the GIS Group

Jakel Lin of the GIS Group

Created a successful hybrid experience that will become a benchmark for hybrid congresses in the future. The perfect use of technology – including holograms – combined with a well-designed programme created the perfect engagement experience for both in-person and virtual audiences.

2019 (awarded in 2020)

Monica Fusaro and Marta Calderai, AIM Group International

Innovation Award 2019 winner - Monica Fusaro and Marta Calderai of AIM Group International

The winning team introduced web TV to their clients’ congress to broaden the reach of its high-quality scientific content.

Awarded at the virtual ceremony during the IAPCO #WinningWebinar as part of PlanetIMEX titled ‘Olympians and Meeting Professionals

2018 (awarded 2019)

Elvire de Chalus of Colloquium

Announced at the impressive IMEX Gala Evening in Frankfurt, Christophe Painvin was delighted to accept the award on Elvire’s behalf, presented by Mathias Posch IAPCO President.


Amber Chen, Assistant Vice President, GIS Group Taiwan

For the 3rd EcoMobility World Festival in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, the awardee transformed a local neighbourhood into an ecomobile community – a live demonstration of how to create an urban transportation culture within a historic neighbourhood. In addition – through effective storytelling – children were educated on the benefits of ecomobility. Creating a true legacy, the green transportation introduced continues to be used in Kaohsiung City.

The results were close and both runners-up deserve recognition for their innovative concepts around meeting design: Rosa Garriga Mora, Kenes Group and Christina Gotze, Congrex Switzerland.


Elizabeth Winter of African Agenda

Announced at the impressive IMEX Gala Evening in Frankfurt and presented by Jan Tonkin, IAPCO President, the award was accepted by Corne Koch of Wesgro Convention Bureau on Elizabeth’s behalf.

Elizabeth’s award-winning innovation was a “standing discussion”, a session, which took participants out of their comfort zones and brought them together to share ideas in a lively, structured discussion. Experiences and knowledge were shared, and new ideas were sparked, as all corners of the session topic were explored. The bonus connection of improved cognition and physical movement to strengthen learning, improve memory retrieval, and enhance motivation and morale was not missed by the participants who scored the sessions highly when surveyed post-conference.

Elizabeth stated: “Being innovative does not necessarily imply being an inventor, we suggest it implies assessing a situation, a need, an audience and crafting a concept in order to shape a solution. This is an example of that.”


Yoshihito Takahashi from Congress Corporation, Japan

Jan Tonkin, President of IAPCO, presented the Award at the IMEX Gala evening. Yoshihito’s innovation was an app, which streamlined the process of participant attendance for lunch seminars. This ensured that there were none of the dreaded queues and delegates could check availability for the seminars in real-time, all with the added bonus of being completely paperless.


Andrew Dergousoff, of ICS Canada

The first winner of the inaugural IAPCO Innovation Award was announced at the IMEX Gala Evening at Frankfurt Opera House in May 2014. The new award for PCOs attracted numerous applications, and the three short-listed nominees were presented by Council to the audience at IAPCO’s Annual Meeting in Lisbon, for delegates to vote on the nominees’ innovative ideas, implementation, and successful contributions to their companies.

In addition to Andrew, and his work on virtual meetings, the short-list included Magdalina Atannassova, of AIM Group Bulgaria, for work involving social media, and Dohyun Kim, of MECI Korea, who worked on public relations strategies. All three candidates showed very high levels of understanding of the meetings business, along with a great capacity for integrating innovative solutions.

Andrew said on his win: “I could not be more delighted. It was a real honour just to be shortlisted, but to win… was something I only dreamt of. It is fantastic recognition.”