Adelaide, South Australia has just held its largest ever business event, the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC).

The world’s largest gathering of space professionals, the event returned to Australia, 25-29 September, for the first time in almost 20 years. 4470 delegates from 71 nations, joined by visits from 700 school children and several thousand members of the public (who attended the public exhibition day), made the 2017 congress one of the largest in IAC history. (Mexico in 2016 had 5500 delegates). Of major significance in these numbers is that the distance to Australia from the northern hemisphere was not seen as a negative by industry delegates, Governments, space agencies, organisations or corporations.

IAC was the first major event to be held in the newly expanded Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC).  Australia’s first purpose-built convention centre, the ACC was reborn as the country’s newest, most versatile and technologically advanced meetings venue in August following the completion of a A$397m redevelopment. The IAC comprised a detailed program including eight plenary sessions, three highlight lectures, two breaking news, 200 technical sessions and a custom exhibition – all of which utilised every square metre of the centre’s available 20,000 sq/m.  The venue’s highly flexible floor plan was put to the test with exemplary results and commendation by organisers and delegates.

Adelaide delivered!  With high praise from all involved, including the International Astronautical Federation itself, the ‘Team Adelaide’ approach for which the destination is renowned delivered a world-class event.   Michael Davis, chair Space Industry Association of Australia who worked with the Adelaide Convention Bureau to bring the event to Adelaide acknowledged “that the event has been universally judged as one of the most successful ever”. This success was due in no small part through to the efforts of PCO All Occasions Group – an Adelaide business who won the role following a world-wide tender process.

Being a smaller city of around 1.3m people, Adelaide became totally immersed in this highly prestigious event. The opening day announcement by Sen. Simon Birmingham that the government would commit to developing Australia’s own space agency through to  Elon Musk’s presentation, ‘Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species’, drew massive crowds and generated much local excitement as well as extensive national and international media coverage.  Beyond the official program at the Convention Centre, IAC associated exhibitions at the State Library and Museum were exceptionally well attended with traffic up by 50 percent on the week prior. The closing gala dinner at the Adelaide Oval’s Magarey Room was a sell-out, providing spectacular views across the river to the ACC and the city’s iconic Riverbank precinct, while local businesses welcomed delegates with open arms during official sightseeing tours throughout the week.


The Adelaide Convention Bureau in conjunction with the SIAA (Space Industry Association of Australia), commenced researching and pursuing the International Astronautical Congress in 2008. A failed bid in 2011 (lost to Toronto) was turned around in 2014 with the announcement made in Toronto that Adelaide was to host the 2017 event, beating out Germany, Turkey and the United States.

By The Numbers

Economic Benefit

  • The estimated economic benefit for South Australia from the event was A$24m

They ate and drank!

South Australia – known for its incredible fresh produce and world class wine was on show!

  • 615  dozen live shucked Smokey bay oysters, shucked live (1.25 oysters/second consumed over 2 hours)
  • 3,500 Spencer Gulf prawns
  • 150kg calamari/squid
  • 300kg Adelaide Plains chicken
  • 3,500 Wagyu beef sliders
  • 28 dozen Tomich M Sparkling NV
  • 36 dozen Bird in Hand Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
  • 40 dozen Lost Buoy ‘the edge’ Shiraz
  • 15 kegs of Coopers Original Pale Ale
  • 132L of South Australian Riverland orange juice

Jobs and money can’t buy experiences

  • The event’s economic impact created and supported the equivalent of 229 jobs
  • 300 volunteers enjoyed the experience of a lifetime spending the week amid the action at the Adelaide Convention Centre

Bed nights

  • Hotels reaped big rewards with an estimated 32,000 bed nights

Beyond the CBD

  • Further afield, South Australia’s regional areas enjoyed the benefits that large scale events such as the IAC bring to a region.  More than $1.2m was spent on regional and city sightseeing tours including sold out tours of the Adelaide Hills, Barossa, Victor Harbor, Kangaroo Island and the Murray River.
  • As part of the space community, tours to Woomera, the planetarium and stargazing at Stockport were also popular.

The Legacies

Perhaps more importantly than the immediate benefits bought about by hosting a conference are the legacies they leave. Just some of the lasting legacies of IAC include

Investment opportunities

  • Adelaide SPACE startup Fleet announced a partnership with French space agency CNES to track and support Fleet’s first nanosatellites once launched.
  • Italy’s largest privately-owned space company SITAEL signed a letter of intent with local start up Inovar to jointly establish a multi-million dollar company in South Australia dedicated to the development and integration of nano-micro and mini-satellite based innovative satellites and space mission concepts. This includes deployment and operation of satellite ground station.
  • Two letters of intent were signed between the South Australian Government and Germany respectively, with DLR (German Aerospace Centre) and the State of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.

Skilled Migration

  • Former Space Shuttle commander Pamela Melroy announced she will migrate to Adelaide to work with Nova Systems.

Developments & Education within the genre

  • The Federal Government, buoyed by the build up to the event, chose the IAC’s opening ceremony to announce Australia will have a Space Agency and look to increase its share of what is currently estimated to be a $400bn industry.
  • The South Australia Government announced the state will establish a space industry centre.
  • UniSA, the International Space University and the Government of South Australia signed a Memorandum of Intent for specific implementation of the yearly Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program. It includes a study for the development of short courses in the field of space entrepreneurship; and a study for the creation of a joint Institute in Adelaide to create a sustainable base for joint activities in the space field.


IAC was certainly a fitting event for the Centre as both our venue and the city focus on innovation and future possibilities. As the first major event since completing our redevelopment, it was always going to be a great test to our team. Utilising every inch of space we had—in various different configurations and often demanding quick turnarounds—it was a great demonstration of the flexible nature of our venue, making good use of our new East Building’s rotating seating drums and operable walls. I’m thrilled to report that all ran smoothly with positive feedback received from the organisers and delegates alike on both the venue and Adelaide as a destination.

To this end, IAC was not only a fantastic showcase of the Centre’s capabilities and state-of-the-art technologies, but also a wonderful illustration of how the whole city gets behind an event to create a memorable and lasting impression. It was a great week and thanks to our recent expansion, we look forward to welcoming more events of similar scale in the future.


This amazing event is the epitome of what hosting conferences is all about. The IAC absolutely captivated the city and in addition to the immediate benefit of the large economic benefit for tourism operators, it is the value of the incredible legacies that come into play well after the last delegate has returned home that truly highlight the importance of winning these large-scale industry events for South Australia.  With the capacity to host events of this size, the Bureau looks forward to winning many more large-scale events to Adelaide.


All Occasions Group has managed conferences across the globe in some incredible destinations but nothing in the history of the company compares to being the official conference organiser of the 2017 IAC – particularly with it being in our home town.  We have enjoyed an incredible three year journey working with the Australian IAC committee and the IAF to bring the event to life.    The IAC was an incredibly diverse event to manage with literally hundreds of conference sessions and a huge social program.  In addition we worked with a local supplier on an extensive regional touring offering for delegates.  I can’t thank my hard-working team enough for their efforts in delivering this prestigious event


The Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC) has demonstrated to be an outstanding venue, having logistics perfectly sorted. They put their clients’ need at the uttermost importance. The city of Adelaide itself is a perfect location for congresses with easily reachable locations, beautiful sceneries, friendly people and fantastic food. This year’s IAC has been a tremendous success having reached 5,000 attendees and the ACC has proven perfectly capable of facing all sorts of requests from the IAF Community.


Adelaide has been a splendid host city for IAC 2017. Its collaborative approach from the City Council, Library and Museum through to the Convention Centre and Convention Bureau have simply been exemplary. Our delegate numbers have by far exceeded our expectations proving that delegates will travel from long distances if the content of the conference is right and for the amazing experiences that Australia offers.  This conference has set the benchmark for IAC events and Adelaide, Australia should be justifiably proud of the legacies it will leave. Thank you Adelaide!