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From centre of expertise to research centre, with a new academy

The word is out. Our centre of expertise Public Impact is now called research centre Public Impact. This name change does not come without reason. Behind the scenes, we are working hard on our new, broader focus that will be even more at the service of the professionals we are working for. Christine Merckx, head of the research centre, already hints at what these changes (do not) mean. She also proudly announces the new academy offer for 2023.

New name

The centre of expertise Public Impact was established in 2018 within KdG University of Applied Sciences and Arts as anchoring the research group 'ROI for public events'. What began in 2014 with initial research to develop a model to measure the societal return on investment (ROI) of events, evolved into a research group in which many other impact research projects were carried out.

The centre of expertise was born from the bachelor’s degree specialism Event & Project Management, but with strong links to the other study programmes and professional fields within our university college. For instance, we not only studied how to measure the societal and economic impact of events, who the visitors of your event are and how best to count them. Over the past eight years, we have also focused strongly on themes such as sustainability, inclusion, and safety.

We consciously chose to broaden and went beyond the boundaries of the event sector. After all, an event is so much more than a festival such as Tomorrowland. We already conducted research for related sectors in which not only organised but also spontaneous meetings and encounters in urban social spaces are central, such as markets, nightlife, museums, opera houses, cultural centres ...

As researchers, we are fascinated by issues such as: who are your visitors? How do you best reach them? How do you motivate them to make sustainable mobility choices? How do you promote accessibility to your venue and event? How do you manage large crowds best? How do you measure and improve the impact of your activities?

We bundle these themes into three research lines, but more on this later. What is certain is that we will continue our ambitious dream. No longer with the name 'centre of expertise' but as 'research centre'. Are we now less expert and are we reducing our activities only to research? Absolutely not. We are becoming more and more expert. In everything we do, we start from our expertise from research. After all, we are scientists and use research as a means of developing our expertise and sharing it with our professional field.

By studying human behaviour, economic opportunities, and social innovations, we can inspire, guide, and provide knowledge, data, and tools to (event) professionals, companies, and public organisations active in the various meeting sectors. We share our expertise not only with (future) professionals, but also with policymakers and the public. With our research, services, academy, and scientific communication, we focus strongly on cross-pollinations and partnerships that complement and strengthen our expertise.

New academy

We continue to serve with our academy and other activities the (broad) event sector. Since 2018, we have been offering our training courses from our Event Academy, but this is no longer sufficient. We noticed that many topics (such as inclusive organisations) are also relevant for professionals who do not consider themselves event professionals. Therefore, we are broadening our academy offer and as from 2023, we will not only offer an Event Academy, but also a Sustainability Academy and Urban Academy.

Event Academy

With our Event Academy, we want to (continue to) activate event professionals to organise vibrant events and other types of meetings and encounters. As in 2022, we will continue to offer master classes, workshops, webinars, and study days in 2023 on topics such as event safety, event communication and event impact.

For our master classes, we will continue to cooperate with the 15 consultants from our learning network who complement our expertise. On 30th of March, for instance, we will organise a master class on connectivity and experience: how do you create more connectivity between the visitors at your event and with the inhabitants of the city in which it is organised? How do you ensure that visitors can really experience your event? For this master class, we invite Peter Decuypere, author and founding father of the festival I Love Techno and the techno club Fuse.

Sustainability Academy

With our Sustainability Academy, we inspire companies to be sustainable and inclusive. Because if you want to organise public impactful meetings and encounters, there better be a public impactful organisation behind it.

In 2023, we will continue to offer our workshops and webinar on inclusive organisations. In September, we will also organise the theme day Sustainable Entrepreneurship for the second year in a row, together with KdG's other research centres.

New is the trajectory Sustainable Entrepreneurship for those companies that want to shift up a gear to work futureproof. Individual coaching sessions are coupled with group work sessions. And we are also offering a master class on the 24th of August on the theme of sustainable organisation, with guest speaker Lore Claes from OVAM.

Urban Academy

With our Urban Academy, we want to guide public organisations to make their urban social spaces smarter, such as shopping streets and centres, event plazas, venues, concert halls, libraries and cultural centres. We aim to create spaces where it is attractive to stay, live and work, and where people are at the centre of attention. Smart and social, that is.

In 2023, we will again offer our tailor-made portfolio workshop, henceforth under the name 'Trajectory Event Portfolio & Planning' specifically for local authorities. We start this trajectory with a cross-departmental workshop in which we check whether the event offer and policy is in line with the city's DNA. We end with a presentation for the College of Aldermen and a report with a supported event vision, which has been developed bottom-up.

The workshop Citizen Participation is also tailor-made: how to integrate participation and structural questioning of residents, visitors, and local traders into your policies? And finally, we organise another master class on 23rd of November on placemaking. During this master class, our city marketing expert Frank Cuypers will explain how to use events and other types of meetings and encounters in a city to tell the unique story of the city.

Read our full academy programme for 2023 here. You can already register for our master classes as from today. Each master class is followed by a roundtable discussion with other professionals. Do not only learn from our experts, but also from each other.

A customised master class, workshop, trajectory, or research project? That is also possible. Contact us. We would love to hear what we can do for you.


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