How to organise an ECM

Preparing and submitting a bid to host an ECM

Overview of the procedure

Potential bidders should consult the section “Guidance for ECM Organisers” which can be found below for details of what is involved in the organisation of an ECM. They are also advised to discuss their bid well in advance with the Secretary of the ECA.

Bids to host a future ECM are considered by the ECA Council Meeting four years before the future ECM is due to take place. Each bidder must prepare a bid document (details below) and submit it to the Secretary of the ECA at least two weeks before the date of the Council Meeting. They must also prepare a PowerPoint or similar presentation summarizing and promoting their bid: it should last no more than 10 minutes. Each bidder must send their presentation to the Secretary of the ECA at least ten days before the date of the Council Meeting.

A booth is provided free of charge by the organisers of the current ECM for bidders to hand out promotional material.

The bidders deliver their presentations during the first Council Meeting of the ECM. After each presentation there is time for questions. Leaving time to the Councillors to think and consult, the voting is performed at the second Council Meeting of the same ECM. The voting is by secret (i.e., paper) ballot of the Councillors and the result is announced directly after the votes are counted. The proposal shall be accepted by a majority of votes. In the case of a tied vote, the President has a casting vote.

The Bid Committee should include:

  • Chair of the Organising and Program Committees
  • Local crystallographers involved in the organisation of the Meeting
  • Representatives of National Crystallographic Association / Adhering body to ECA
  • Professional conference organising company or autonomous organisation

The bid document should include the following:

  • A letter of invitation from the National Crystallographic Association/National Member adhering body to ECA
  • Letters of invitation from the local mayor (or equivalent) and the host university/institution
  • A description of the National Crystallographic Association /National Member adhering body to ECA
  • A full description of the PCO, if any, or autonomous organisation
  • A description of the venue and its facilities – see below
  • Description and costs of the accommodation (student dormitory/budget hotels/other hotels)
  • Registration fees for all categories of participant – see below
  • Information on travel to the country and to the site of the meeting
  • Transportation between airport/train station and hotels; parking facilities
  • Transportation between conference venue and hotels
  • Child care facilities for delegates and their families
  • Information about the local area and its potential touristic and cultural attractiveness
  • Details of the social program – see below
  • Special offers to students – see below
  • Things to do in and around the site of the meeting
  • A financial plan – see below

Required Information about the Venue

  • Country accessibility and free circulation of persons
  • Information on passport, visa requirements, etc, especially in case of non-EU countries
  • City, University or Convention Centre
  • Location in the city
  • Lecture halls: number, size, capacity (hosting Opening Ceremony, Prize Lectures, 2 parallel Keynotes, 6-7 parallel Microsymposia)
  • Meeting rooms for Council (80 seats) and EC (25 seats)
  • Meeting rooms for 12 parallel SIG/GIG meetings, and for other meetings
  • Facilities for satellite conferences and workshops
  • Poster area: size, maximum number of boards, location
  • exhibition area, approximate cost per m2, central location
  • Coffee/tea breaks
  • Possibility of lunch in the venue and the neighbourhood
  • Access for participants with disabilities to all parts of the venue used for the conference
  • Provision for delegates with special requirements e.g.  participants with reduced mobility; hearing or sight impairment; special dietary needs etc.)
  • Information on climate and weather conditions

Multimedia, computing

  • multimedia facilities in the lecture halls
  • computer: Windows PowerPoint; OpenOffice/LibreOffice free suites, linux
  • possibility of using own laptop
  • transparency projector
  • portable microphone
  • presentation check room
  • internet cafe: location, number of computers, free wireless internet access
  • clearly-visible clock for time limit control for session chairs and speakers

Registration fees

  • ECA members
  • Non-members
  • Students
  • Retired persons
  • Accompanying persons
  • Early, normal and late registration fees
  • Cancellation/refund policy

A “break-even” point should be calculated, giving the number of participants at which the Meeting makes neither a loss nor a surplus.

FOR INFORMATION: There were 800-1000 attendees of the ECM’s in the last years (Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Leuven, Marrakech and Istanbul). In Nancy 2000 there were 1200 participants, in Durban 2003 there were only 500. The early bird registration fee for ECA members was 350 EUR for years, it is increased to 370 EUR now. Opening ceremony, excursion, conference dinner included. Non-member surcharge is 20 EUR (annual membership fee is 10 EUR only!). “Penalty” of late registration was different from year to year: low penalty more participants. Student registration fee was varying depending whether accommodation was included or not, lunch was included or not. You may say 200 EUR plus extras (~400 with accommodation). Accompanying person fee varied the most from 100 to ~130 EUR.

Each bidder must send their presentation to the Secretary of the ECA at least 14 days before the starting date of the conference where Council Meeting take place.

Special offers to students

  • Bursary
  • Registration fee
  • Accommodation
  • Student/young Crystallographers mixer
  • Other benefits

Social program

Please make clear what is included in the registration fee and what is not.

  • Opening and welcome reception (must be included)
  • Local special occasions (at least one must be included)
  • Conference dinner (included, but ~20 EUR registration fee possible)
  • Excursion (included)
  • Student/Young Crystallographers mixer
  • Cultural Activity (concert)
  • Accompanying persons’ tours (not included)


Beside the income from the registration fees, the commercial exhibition and sponsorship by companies, please identify any sources of additional local income or sponsorship, e.g., Tourist Office or local industry.

Financial Plan

A realistic financial plan must be submitted, including all income, expenditure and details of sponsorship. This plan must specify the proportion of any surplus arising from the ECM that will be transferred to ECA. If the bid is successful, this plan will form part of a binding contract with the ECA. Any modifications to the plan must be reported to the ECA Executive Committee and will require its specific approval.

Guidance for ECM Organisers

This document has two purposes: (a) to tell potential bidders who want to host future ECMs what is involved in organising an ECM; (b) to guide the successful bidders in organising the ECM.

The ECM Organising Committee should include:

  • Chair of the ECM
  • Secretary
  • Honorary Treasurer (providing financial oversight on behalf of the LOC and the ECA)
  • ECA President, Vice-President, Immediate Past-President and Secretary
  • Chairs of the previous and following ECM’s
  • Person responsible for exhibitors
  • Local organisers

Members of the Bursary Committee to have at least:

  1. Chair of ECM
  2. Secretary of ECM
  3. Chair of the PC
  4. ECA Executive Committee SIG Representative
  5. Chair of ECMn-1
  6. IUCr Representative

Responsibilities of the Organising Committee

  • Keeping contact with the PCO
  • Setting up the Programme Committee
  • Financial organisation
  • Sponsorships
  • Commercial exhibition
  • Poster exhibition
  • Securing donations/sponsors for poster prizes
  • Social activities
  • Workshops, satellites, schools around the ECM
  • Non-scientific meetings
  • Multimedia, computing
  • Abstract Book
  • Keeping deadlines

Deadlines for the Organising Committee

  • after the successful bid: convene the Organising Committee
  • 24 months before ECM: convene the Programme Committee
  • 18 months before ECM: website of the ECM should be open
  • >9 months before ECM: apply to IUCr for support of bursaries
  • 9 months before ECM: registration starts
  • 9 months before ECM: poster prizes arranged and sponsors secured, poster prizes announced to participants
  • 8 months before ECM: convene the Bursary Committee
  • 6 months before ECM: information of bursary applicants about the result
  • 2 months before ECM: Abstract Book has to be ready for preparation in final format (e.g. hard copies, USB sticks, etc.)

The ECM Programme Committee should include:

  • Chair of the ECM
  • Secretary
  • President and Immediate Past-President of the ECA
  • Representatives of the Focus Areas from the Host country/Association
  • Chairs or representatives of the SIG’s and GIG’s
  • A member of ECA Executive Committee, preferably the SIGs coordinator
  • A member of IUCr Executive Committee
  • Poster prize coordinator

Responsibilities of the Programme Committee

  • Decision on the keynote lecturers based on the recommendation of the SIGs
  • Decision on the topic of the microsymposia based on the recommendation of the SIGs
  • Appointing the microsymposia chairs and co-chairs based on the recommendation of the SIGs
  • Responsible for the balance of the Focus Areas
  • Setting up the poster panels

Deadlines for the Programme Committee

  • Previous year ECM: discussion/decision on the keynote lecturers and microsymposia collected from the SIGs
  • Previous year September: decision on the keynote lecturers and microsymposia collected from the SIGs
  • Previous year October: invitation of the keynote lecturers and microsymposia chairs and co-chairs
  • Previous year November: invitation of the invited microsymposia lecturers (30 min lectures)
  • Previous year December: the start of the collection of the abstracts
  • March: evaluation of the abstracts of the bursary applicants
  • The Meeting keynote and microsymposia schedule should be sent for review to the ECA executive Committee before it is announced on the webpage
  • April-May: evaluation of the abstracts, selection of the selected microsymposia speakers (20 min lectures)
  • 2 weeks before ECM: poster prize committees arranged for judging posters

It is the responsibility of both the Organising Committee and the Programme Committee to ensure that their respective memberships, and that all session chairs and lecturers are representative of the diversity of the European Crystallographic Community. It is strongly encouraged that a statement on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion is prepared and adhered to for each ECM.

The scientific programme and its arrangement in the conference calendar should be agreed by the Programme Committee and be sent for review to the Executive Committee before it is announced.

No one, except the ex-officio members (ECA President, Past-President and SIG coordinator, etc) should serve in the Programme Committee if they were members of the Programme Committee in either of the past two ECMs (this includes Focus Area Representatives or Representatives of the SIG’s or GIG’s, etc.)

The guidelines for the Chairs of Microsymposia at ECM congresses ( include the rule: “Chairpersons are not allowed to be speakers in their own MS. However, they may speak in other MS if invited or selected.” The rule has to be followed, controlled by the Programme Committee of the ECM. The gender and geographical balance of oral presenters should be considered, and it should be extended to the selection of the Chairs for MS. This is checked by the ECA Executive Committee members of the PC. One poster abstract ought to be selected as ‘reserve oral’ in case a speaker does not show up to avoid holes in the microsymposium programme.

Speakers proposed for keynote lectures cannot have been keynote speakers in the two previous ECMs.

All participants submitting a poster or giving a talk in a scientific microsymposium are allowed to present a second poster or give a second invited or selected talk in a general interest microsymposium (GI-MS).

Posters and Poster Prizes

Poster sessions on any given day of the conference should be at least two hours long.

If exhibition space might allow it is preferred to have all posters on display for four days rather than changing the posters after two days.

It is the responsibility of the Organising Committee to obtain donations/sponsorship for a variety of poster prizes. Sponsors/donors should be contacted as early as possible, and promotion of poster prizes should start in February of the year that an ECM is scheduled to take place. A tick box should be added to the abstract submission page to give the author the option to take part in the poster competition for certain poster prizes. The name of the prize(s) has to be indicated. A paper list should be available to sign up to the participation of the poster prizes on site.

A poster prize coordinator in the Programme Committee of the ECM, in coordination with the vice-president of the ECA, should set up Judging Panels for each poster prize as may be required by each founder/donor and assist with the work of the Panels. Panellists can be invited from the registered participants. An ideal is to involve Panellists coming from outside Europe who thereby provide an independent viewpoint.

It is up to the decision of the Organising Committee whether to award poster prizes during the Conference Dinner or at the Closing Ceremony.

Activities for Young Crystallographers

A lecture hall and exhibition space (for approx. 60-100 attendees) should be provided free of charge for the Young Crystallographers Satellite Meeting on the Day 0 of the ECM. Organisation of this event should be led by the GIG-01 Committee in collaboration with the ECM Committees and the PCO.

Provision should be made to organise a Science Slam during the ECM. Organisation of this event should be led by the GIG-01 Committee in collaboration with the ECM Committees and the PCO.

Provision should be made to organise a Young Crystallographers Mixer one evening during the ECM. Organisation of this event should be led by the GIG-01 Committee in collaboration with the ECM Committees and the PCO.

Childcare during ECMs

It is strongly encouraged that the ECM organisers make every possible effort to ensure that childcare is made available free of charge in order to promote Equality, Diversity and Inclusion among conference participants.

Deadlines for participants

  • Application for financial assistance (end of February)
  • Abstract submission (end of February, middle of March)
  • Early registration (April)
  • Student accommodation (April)
  • Conference hotel accommodation (May)
  • Normal registration (May)
  • Late registration (June-July)
  • Cancellation (August)

The website

The ECM website is the responsibility of the organisers.  Organisers must provide the design, contents handling and maintenance of the website.

The official address of the website must be, where NN is the consecutive number of the ECM congress. Contact the ECA webmaster to point this address to your website. The website should in principle be hosted on the same server as If the Professional Congress Organiser (PCO) uses proprietary software to build the website then the organizers should negociate with the PCO so that (in the following order)

  • the PCO will not use proprietary software so that the site can  be hosted on the ECA server or
  • the PCO  leaves a ‘static’ html site after the congress that can be copied to the ECA server or
  • the PCO leaves the site accessible on the PCO’s server as long as the PCO exist.

Electronic organisation

  • On-line registration
  • On-line accommodation booking, room, sharing
  • Bursary submission and evaluation
  • Abstract submission and evaluation

Abstract Book

  • Printed, USB drive
  • Archival of abstracts in IUCr journal Acta Cryst A

Please note that it is the responsibility of the organisers to bear the costs of archiving abstracts in Acta Cryst. A and this should be budgeted for accordingly.

On the web of the meeting

The Abstract template is provided by IUCr.

Daily conference newspaper may be issued with news.


At the registration page of the ECM a flashing link “join ECA here” has to be added to the ECA page “how to become a member”.

ECM registrants are directed to the ECA membership fees collection page to check their membership or to become a member.

It should be made possible to pay the ECA individual membership fee together with the ECM Meeting registration fee, and to become a member of ECA at the ECM registration desk. The Individual Member category of the ECA of an ECM participant ought to be indicated on the ECM conference badge by clearly distinguishable colours.

On the registration form a tick should be present where the registrants can select which SIG(s)/GIG(s) they are mainly interested in.

The ECA may support student bursaries and the meeting of the young crystallographers at the ECM. Companies have to be contacted for support also. A tick box is to be included on the ECM registration form whether the student attendee wants to participate in the Young Crystallographer event.

The ECM registration page should allow each ECM participant to make an optional contribution (e.g., of 5 Euro) towards the Perutz and Bertaut Prizes. Donations received from companies are, as ever, needed. A link from the ECM site should be present to the ECA site for donation to ECA (annual or a five years deal).

ECA may provide a grant within the total budget to invite scientists from less developed countries with a waived registration to the ECM.

At future ECM’s the price for non-ECA-CAMs should go up by 10% compared to the costs imposed on ECA-CAMs. / A discount should be introduced to the CAM’s at ECM’s.

Two representatives of a CAM may participate free at an ECM, additional representatives pay for the participation.

Distinguishing CAMs by the years of membership of ECA (gold, silver, bronze). Distinguishing exhibitors by the amount of support of the ECM.

ECM 1st and 2nd announcements as well as ECM in the congress calendar should be included in IUCr Newsletter.

The Council ratified in Darmstadt 2010: Individual Membership of the ECA is a condition of the award for a student bursary from the ECA at schools or workshops.

At conferences/workshops an application for financial support should only be considered if the applicant is registered in the WDC.

Attendees and sponsors data

  • ECA will put at the disposal of the organizers of an ECM a file with contact information of potential  attendees and sponsors. This file is used by the organizers for the sole purpose of the organization of the congress and can be shared with the PCO. It is updated during the organization of the congress and will be transferred back to ECA after the congress, at the exception of attendees/sponsors who have explicitly indicated that they should not be included in this file.
  • ECA retains the unique ownership rights on this file, i.e. rights are not transferred to or shared with the local organizers and PCO.


Welcome address on the Opening Ceremony is welcome from: the President of the National Adhering Body, the Dean or University President, Mayor, Minister, etc. The local press/TV, etc, could be informed or invited.


Central situation of the exhibition area where posters are presented and coffee is served and ideally you have to walk through if you want to go to the lecture theatres.

A booth is required free of charge for ECA and for future ECM’s.

On the ECM website for exhibitors:

  1. how to become a CAM of ECA
  2. application for participation as exhibitor on the ECM.

Requirements and recommendations for Commercial Exhibitions (ECA/ECM)

Exhibitions are under-going big changes, and companies are getting more and more request to sponsor meetings and pay for exhibitions. In this information technology age customers believe that almost any information can be obtained with two clicks of a mouse! One effect of this is that the willingness of exhibition visitors to take away literature from booths is now almost non-existent. Similarly, we also experience a decline in the percentage of delegates at a conference who actually visit the exhibition. Because of this many companies are looking at other ways in which to interact with their customers at conferences. Such events as company run technical workshops in satellite rooms can offer significant new value to a conference by adding a teaching dimension to the programme, and make participating on the conference cost effective for the companies. To maximise the number of sponsors and exhibitors who contribute to the meeting budget it is important to optimise their commercial experience. Therefore we have produced these guidelines for organising commercial exhibitions.

A prospectus (in the English language) stating the most important information on the various aspects should be issued at least 9 months, but preferably 12 months, prior to the exhibition dates.

The prospectus should at least contain information about:

Exhibition Space Rental price/m2, Sponsoring options (in all price categories), advertising options with prices, contact person names with their specific responsibilities and communication channels.

The contact persons should be able to communicate well in English.

Enhancing the value of the meeting for commercial sponsors

Other sessions to improve integration with the meeting could include company workshops, and seminars, and a job fair. A Commercial Session can be organised at the ECM by the initialisation of the companies effectively and entertainingly having 5 minutes lectures, no questions. Depending on the first experiences on the attendance the lecturing time can be lengthen and time for questions can be introduced based on advance arrangements in the future.

The programme should be finalised in the main before the closing date for early bird registration.

The length of the exhibition both in terms of hours per day and number of days could be optimised. Three / max four days is ample and opening at 10.00 for coffee break is good. Closing time will depend on the timing of the afternoon poster session. From the exhibitor point of view an afternoon poster / exhibition session is preferable to evenings. This allows Key Note talks to be held late afternoon / early evening and the exhibition area to close. However, if the conference content runs beyond the length of the exhibition it is vital that the most interesting sessions are not schedule after the day that the exhibition closes!

Promoting the conference

Organisers are invited to ask exhibitors to help promote the conference on their web site and in published news-letters. The exhibitors probably have much larger mailing lists than the ECA or national associations.

Exhibition Space

For the exhibitors it is essential to have maximal attention. The value of the exhibition is influenced strongly by this. Thereto the posters should be displayed in the same “room” as the commercial exhibition and refreshments. Note that it is not acceptable to the exhibitors for lunch to be in a different building or room far from the exhibition. For both the posters and the commercial exhibit as well as refreshments. It is necessary to mix these activities. The exhibition, refreshments and poster areas should be in the same hall. It should be possible to bridge the distance between the lecture halls and the exhibition / poster / refreshment area in a few minutes. The value is further enhanced by the continuous availability of coffee and tea with the commercial exhibit and poster areas or at least 2 refreshment breaks per day. The detailed plans must be published clearly in the BID for getting the ECM. If poster sessions are to be held in the evening additional refreshments integrated with the exhibition are welcome. Company names printed on shell schemes are not necessary as all exhibitors display their names on their graphical displays. Free wifi should be available everywhere at the ECM, high quality, faster wifi connection may be sponsorized at the exhibition area.

The quality of the exhibition space should be essentially the same for all vendors. If it would be unavoidable to have prime and secondary locations, the respective rental prices should reflect this.

The height of the exhibition area should be more than 2.7 meter. When such areas can not be offered, it should be published clearly in the BID for getting the ECM. Non-profit organisations should pay a lower rate for exhibition space, but they would prefer to be mixed in with the other exhibitors and not put in a row together. National member associations should be encouraged to exhibit.

A floor plan of the poster and exhibition area, also showing the coffee/tea break areas, should be published in the prospectus, complete with scale indications.

Participation in the conference

The exhibitors should have free access to the exhibition areas and be entitled to free coffee and tea, same as the conference attendees. If the organisation offers free full subscriptions to the conference and some of the social activities, the number of persons benefiting from this should be proportional to the number of square meters rented. The full registrations and exhibitor registrations should depend on the size of the booth rented, a minimum of one each, say per 4sqm seems to be reasonable. It is possible to allow a number of full participant registrations per booth but also additional exhibitor only passes. Ideally each unit exhibition space should have 2 free exhibitor passes as a minimum. Extra exhibitors should be able to attend the exhibition only (not as full delegates) either free of charge or for a small nominal fee to simply cover tea & coffee or food (such as EURO 20/day for example). Free exhibition passes for CAMs / Exhibitors need careful accountancy check by ECM organisers, view may vary from ECM to ECM.


The exact time table for the exhibition should be published at least six months before it will be held and, once decided, it should not be changed. At same time the dates and times for building up and tearing down the stands should be published and once decided it should not be changed. The general meeting attendees need to be kept out of the exhibit area during build-up and break down. The bigger vendors need at least one full working day to set up their exhibit and at least half a day to tear down. These times should not be colliding with the social events. If this cannot be offered, bigger equipment will not be shown and the risk exists that less exhibition space can be sold than during previous ECM’s. The exhibition site must be able to receive goods at least one day (preferably longer, one week) before the date of building up the show and it must offer the option of pick up the goods one day after tearing down the exhibition. It should be made easy to ship to the meeting by any method. Exhibitors shouldn’t have to use the shipping company appointed by the meeting. If exhibitors need to use a customs broker, this needs to be made clear. Ideally a broker should be appointed by the meeting and available to everyone. The shipping address for the exhibition should be published clearly as well as the earliest date goods can be received and the last day goods can be picked up.

Insurance & Security

Risks covered by insurance for goods packed and unpacked, during, before and after the exhibition should be published clearly in the prospectus. The prospectus should also mention whether the premises of the exhibition will be guarded before, during and after the commercial exhibition. During setup and tear down the exhibition area should be closed to the public. The access limitation should be enforced. Exhibitor’s badges should be distinguished from delegate badges. This will enable security to keep delegates out of the exhibit area during set up and breakdown times and when the exhibit is closed. It would help also to prevent the overnight swag. Exhibitor badges should be transferable. Affiliation (Company, Institute, etc) should be included on all badges. The exhibition times should be clearly stated on a sign or board, so that everyone knows exactly what the exhibition hours are and when the exhibition closes.


Deadlines should be published clearly and must not be changed during the preparation process.


For heavy display materials the exhibitions area access should be without any mayor obstruction. Capacities of elevators and restricting door sizes should be published in the prospectus. If there would be any steps and/or stairs between the loading dock and the exhibition area this should be published in the prospectus.

Local moving and hauling services will be appreciated and the price thereof should be published, be reasonable and proportional to the amount of work done. However, the use of local services should not be mandatory.

Storage of packing materials

Availability of local space for storage of empty crates and/or other packing material during the exhibition period is required by the exhibitors. If this would not be available it should be published in the BID for the ECM, and in the prospectus and alternative storage facilities for “empties” must be offered.

Information on the participants registered

The exhibitors should be informed of the number of firm registrations approximately one month before the Conference commences. Name badges should be printed on the front and on the rear, clearly show the affiliation of the attendee. At the time of the participants’ registration to the ECM a tick box should be included whether his/her name and contact information can be handled over by the organisers to the commercial exhibitors. Lists of participants – those who agreed – should be distributed to the exhibitors three weeks prior to the exhibition to allow exhibitors one or two mailings to the attendees. Upon registration attendees may refuse to receive these mailings or be listed at all. During the exhibition electronic methods, like bar codes on the name badges, etc. should be considered for the easy transfer of attendees’ contract information.

All issues addressed here should be well described in the BID for hosting the next ECM.

Revised guidelines for the chairs of microsymposia at ECM congresses

  • Each invited speaker is not allowed to give a talk in more than one microsymposium (MS). However, an invited speaker is allowed to present one poster as main author and other posters as co-author.
  • Submission of an additional abstract to the Education MS is permitted
  • The diversity of speakers should reflect the diversity of our European Crystallographic Community. It is highly recommended that both gender and nationality are taken into account in the selection of speakers in order to promote Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.
  • There should be no more than one speaker from one affiliation in a given MS.
  • Chairpersons are not allowed to be speakers in their own MS. However, they may speak in other MS if invited or selected.
  • No honorarium or refund of expenses and no waiving of the registration fee can be offered by ECA or ECMs to MS chairpersons or MS invited speakers. The latter restriction is based on the necessity of supporting young researchers to the largest possible extent in order to favour the growth of the crystallographic discipline. However, this does not prevent MS chairpersons from raising funds, should they wish to do so to support their selected speakers with grants or other types of sponsorships, provided that this is done in consultation with the organising committee.