Bid Summary


Africa is the world’s second largest and second most populous continent, with very unique challenges. Over the next 15 years, the number of young people in Africa will increase, and will account for more than half the world’s population growth by 2050. At a time when much of the developed world’s workforce will be shrinking – Africa’s will be expanding. African consumers will become wealthier, more urban, and connected. Technology and innovation opportunities in Africa should thus be consciously developed. As microscopy scientists we therefore need to meet the emerging challenges and UN Sustainable Development Goals of a growing nation head-on, through increased research in areas of renewable energy, disease and the advancement of economies through food security, mineral resources and industrial development.

Since ICEM 2002 in Durban, the microscopy industry has grown through heavy investment into state-of-the-art equipment by the Department of Science and Technology in partnership with the National Research Foundation. A major event like the IMC20 in 2022 will again attract international experts and microscopy scientists who will bring with them expertise and experience that they can share with African colleagues to further the discipline in Africa.

South Africa is among the developing countries that have launched several nanotechnology national initiatives to strengthen her national capabilities in this field. Specific areas of development has been the establishment of characterisation centres (national multi-user facilities), the creation of research and innovation networks (to enhance collaboration: inter-disciplinary, national and internationally); building of human capacity (development of skilled personnel) and setting up of flagship projects (to demonstrate the benefits of nanotechnology towards enhancing the quality of life, and spurring economic growth).

As a result of these national initiatives, there are numerous technical projects in progress including the synthesis of nanoparticles, development of better and cheaper solar cells, nanophase catalysts and electro-catalysts, fuel cell development, synthesis of Quantum dots, composites development, atomic modelling, just to mention a few. The research projects are carried out in diverse institutions and organizations, namely: eleven universities, four research organisations, and eleven private sector companies – in fields of mining, paints to paper manufacturing. Most notably, the development of the world-class Centre for High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (CHRTEM) at the Nelson Mandela University indicates how microscopy research and opportunities have already grown in South Africa since the previous ICEM was hosted.

Many microscopy scientists on the continent however, still have limited opportunities to engage with fellow international communities due to financial constraints. Therefore, IMC20 will offer them an opportunity that they may not otherwise have. The importance of engaging with committed professionals – who offer diverse ideas, actions and experience, cannot be over-emphasized. African researchers will be provided with the opportunity to showcase their work and display the expertise and innovation that exists on our continent – it would also bring African nations together in Cape Town should the Bid be successful.

The ultimate legacy that the Microscopy Society of Southern Africa would like to establish well-founded microscopy platforms, driven by emerging scientists equipped with the necessary skills to develop innovative solutions to meet the challenges of Africa!


South Africa and Cape Town in particular, is a popular destination for people from many countries on the continent and overseas – as a tourist destination as well as for work and social opportunities. Cape Town offers a wide variety of accommodation options and has about 20 000 formal 3, 4 and 5-star hotel bedrooms, rated guesthouses and B&B alternatives as popular choices for delegates. Most of these hotels are located within the City Bowl, Waterfront and Atlantic Seaboard areas – all in close proximity of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). Various interesting and exciting pre-and post-congress tours can be facilitated within close proximity of Cape Town itself. A full prospectus on why ‘Cape Town is an inspiring place to meet’ in included in the expanded Bid book.

Cape Town is one of the safest cities in South Africa. Due to focused efforts by the local government, crime has been reduced by 85% since 2000. We have already been liaising with local authorities to put in place additional measures to ensure the safety of all our visiting delegates.


Nanotechnology has captured global attention as the technological platform of the next industrial revolution, and this is where vast development, education and training are required in Africa. Applications of nanotechnology, e.g. water, energy, health care, chemical- and bio-processing, mining and minerals, and advanced materials and manufacturing are expected to benefit the country. South Africa’s vision of economic growth, poverty reduction and enhancing quality of life will be facilitated by interventions in industrial – (e.g. mining, minerals, chemical- and bio-processing, and materials and manufacturing) and social applications (e.g. provision of clean and purified water, affordable and renewable energy, and improved primary health care).

The Department of Science and Technology has already identified a need to increase the number of training initiatives to support the development of highly skilled microscopy scientists. Microscopy outreach initiatives would facilitate development of similarly qualified young microscopists from neighboring countries through mentorship programs. In terms of human capacity development, South Africa is actively engaged in building a critical mass of graduates skilled in nanoscience and nanotechnology.

South Africa plays a leadership role in infrastructure development, research, and most of all, outreach and education with regard to microscopy on the African continent. Hosting the IMC20 in Africa in 2022 would contribute greatly in this regard. The Microscopy Society of Southern Africa is keen to expand its leadership roles in Africa by accelerating its involvement in microscopy training efforts already underway as well as developing new initiatives. The educational institutions in South Africa have the potential for providing training of microscopists who would practice in other countries on the continent.


The South African Department of Trade and Investment and the National Research Foundation will be approached for congress funding – these will predominantly be used to make travel grants and financial assistance available for postgraduate students to attend the congress. Additional funding to support outreach to students from neighbouring African Countries will be sought also from the African Union and other funding agencies.


The Department of Science and Technology in partnership with the National Research Foundation are active drivers to ensure that South Africa is able to optimally use nanoscience and nanotechnology to enhance the nation’s global competitiveness as well as to promote innovation and economic growth. These important governmental institutions in South Africa also provide a platform for nurturing and encouraging partnerships between industry partners and grant holders in advancing nanotechnology development and innovation in line with the objectives set out in our National Nanotechnology Strategy (National Nanotechnology Strategy, Department of Science and Technology, 2006). Extending outreach to involve many African scientists and microscopists is part and parcel of this drive.


We plan to look at developing trends from previous IMC conferences, and actively engage with leaders in various fields to put together an exciting programme that will also be relevant in the African context. Four major streams are envisaged: physical sciences, life sciences, frontier issues, instrumentation and techniques. Preliminary symposia are included in the expanded version of the Bid book, and will be discussed with the International Scientific Advisory Committee of IFSM.


Trade exhibitors are an essential part of our microscopy meetings, showcasing the latest developments in technology at a single venue! We plan to establish a trade and exhibition sub-committee in order to assist the trade and exhibitors, to determine their needs and requirements timeously. We will also advise potential exhibitors on procedures that would facilitate the import of equipment into South Africa and the International Convention Centre, as well as delivery and installation of equipment. Technical expertise will be on standby to assist with services (e.g. electrical, gas, liquid nitrogen). We propose three to four days for build-up, and two days for break-down to facilitate a smooth running trade exhibition.


Budgeting: The Professional Conference Organizer would obtain quotations from multiple vendors for website development, abstract management, conference venue, registration and guest services, catering, audio-visual equipment and support, social events and travel and accommodation for speakers and VIPs. This would ensure that the most cost-effective options are selected. The budget is prepared well in advance and is reviewed at every organising committee meeting with respect to actual versus projected income and expenditure. Variances are discussed and risks of over-expenditure are mitigated and addressed. A draft budget for IMC20 is included as Appendix 1.

Fundraising: The following sources will be approached:

  • South African Government: The necessary application process to activate funds from the South African Department of Trade and Industry and the National Research Foundation will be followed. These funds will predominantly be used to make travel grants and financial assistance available for African delegates to attend the congress.
  • Trade companies: The Local Organising Committee will host a sponsored breakfast and invite representatives from all relevant companies to be briefed on the 2022 Congress. During this event, the sponsorship opportunities will be presented. A specialist sponsorship and fundraising person from the Professional Conference Organizer will follow all leads and convert these into funding.
  • Other Funding agencies: The Professional Conference Organizer has an extensive list of Global Funding agencies that offer support in terms of travel grants.


It is important to mention upfront in this Bid document that we understand and acknowledge that 50% of the profit arising from any IMC meetings goes towards IFSM. In order to request permission from the South African Reserve Bank to do so, a contractual agreement must be put in place between MSSA and IFSM specifying this arrangement. This was not done prior to the previous congress in Durban 2002, which led to financial complications. Should our Bid be successful, a contractual agreement between MSSA and IFSM should be entered into as soon as possible so that the SA Reserve Bank is approached timeously, ensuring payment of funds over to IFSM after the conference is concluded.


Registration (Sunday – Thursday)
Scientific Opening Ceremony (Monday morning)
Scientific sessions (Monday –Thursday)
Poster Exhibition (Monday –Thursday)
Trade Exhibition (Monday- Thursday)
Awards Ceremony
Closing Ceremony (Thursday)
Workshops (may precede or follow main meeting)
Open Labs (Monday-Wednesday afternoons)
Social Opening Reception (Sunday evening)
IFSM Reception (Tuesday evening)
Trade Exhibition Reception
Banquet (Wednesday evening)
IFSM General Assembly (Tuesday evening)