23rd Intelligent Transport System (ITS) World Congress 2016

Case Study

In 2016, Melbourne hosted the 23rd Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress (ITSWC 2016) at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC). ITSWC 2016 was the largest international association conference held in Australia that year and the second-largest international association conference ever held in Melbourne.

The Congress exceeded its initial target of 7,000 delegates by a massive 60 per cent - with final numbers reaching 12,000 delegates from over 70 countries and generating in excess of $46.6 million in economic contribution for Victoria.

Hosting of the ITSWC stimulated significant local investment and uptake of ITS technology that has had a lasting legacy for Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and beyond.

Multiple Memorandum of Understanding's (MoUs) were signed, including those between ITS Korea and VicRoads and the Australian government and Michigan USA government on the exchange of technologies for advanced transport.

Australia's thriving ITS start-ups were able to make connections with global players at ITSWC, resulting in international businesses taking shares and exposing them to the international market.

Most importantly, the ITS World Congress propelled significant awareness and recognition of Melbourne, and Australia as a global leader in the ITS sector with investment and uptake of ITS Technology.

Connections were made among one hundred international Ministers, Mayors, senior representatives and advisors who attended the ITSWC High-Level Policy Roundtable, an invitation-only meeting, hosted by the Australian Federal Government.

Meanwhile, ITS Australia increased its membership; gained a greater local industry profile and recognition; and built strong government, member and stakeholder relationships; enabling greater communication, collaboration and cooperation.


"Coming to ITS World Congress in 2016, really helped us see and understand the breadth of activities that were happening in the ITS space here in Melbourne. In fact, in 2018, I was back here as the Director of Department of Transportation to sign an MOU between Michigan and Australia to collaborate more and more and more".

- Kirk Steudle, Director, (2006 - 2018) Michigan Department of Transportation USA

Showcasing Australia's innovation

Australia was already a global leader in ITS, yet the success of the Congress increased the country's standing and enhanced Australia’s global positioning and leadership in the ITS industry. It proved Australia is a mature, disciplined and advanced market with strong leadership and capabilities.

The ITSWC enabled international industry to experience firsthand Australian centres for transport, infrastructure, research and communications. A Technical Tours Program also provided unique/limited access, to educate and showcase Australian transport networks - with 659 tours booked by delegates.

Australian companies such as Transurban were provided with a powerful platform to showcase the country's innovation to the world, grow their brands and presence internationally, and create significant relationships they're still using today.

"From the great contacts we got from the World Congress, we've been able to grow the areas we can look at on our roads, and our innovation has exploded with all the contacts we've gained from around the world".

- Jeff Sharp, General Manager Technology Partnerships & Innovation, Transurban

Championing advanced Australian technology - Bosch Australia

Included in the World Congress was an amazing Demonstration Program, where international delegates went to Melbourne's beautiful Albert Park Lake - home of the F1® Australian Grand Prix track - to experience advanced technology developed in Australia.

Australian branches of global companies such as Bosch invested heavily in that opportunity, showcasing its highly automated vehicle – the first vehicle of its kind built in Australia.

The development of Autonomous Driving Systems was identified as a future priority for Bosch well before the World Congress. Yet funding and R&D requirements projected a lengthy timeline for delivery. Victorian government interest in potential automated vehicle applications with road safety outcomes, and a desire to have a Victorian ‘showpiece’ at the World Congress, led to funding from the Victorian government to fast-track project development.

The Victorian government sparked activity that Bosch may not have undertaken as quickly or at all. The project involved 45+ local engineers over more than 12 months to develop the vehicle for the World Congress, growing local capacity.

The partnership between Bosch and the Victorian government to bring the tech here to Melbourne created opportunities and continued to be a success story in Victoria and for Bosch moving forward. Following the first test drive on Victorian roads during the World Congress, Bosch became the first company to receive a permit to use Highly Automated Vehicles on Victorian roads.

The vehicle provided a platform for the State to understand how the technology would behave. It has been used in Transurban-led trials on Melbourne’s M1 freeway and trialled on Victorian rural roads via funding provided by VicRoads.

The international spotlight on Bosch’s commercial engineering capability here in Melbourne has grown as a result of the project. As has the growing body of research into road safety and harm minimisation, led by Victorians.

Watch this video to learn about the positive impacts of ITSWC 2016 and how MCB helped make it happen

Knowledge sharing and diversity

The impact of knowledge sharing was so profound for Australian ITS businesses, that post-event ITS Australia had members saying how the Congress had dramatically changed their understanding of the marketplace.

"Members said they were having to throw out their business plans and recreate a new plan, because they now had access to a world market, when previously they had anticipated access into the Australian marketplace."

- ITS Australia CEO Susan Harris

Knowledge sharing also extended to audiences that wouldn't normally have an opportunity to participate in an ITS World Congress. Not only did well over 200 VicRoad employees have the opportunity to attend, learn and network, but there was also incredible engagement of young great minds.

More than 300 school and university students attended the Congress and their projects - an integral part of the program - were positioned in prime locations at MCEC enabling interaction with industry and the public.

More than 2,100 members of the public also attended the two Open for Public days including public seminars and interactions, providing opportunities to educate the community about intelligent transport systems and encourage businesses to engage with the public to better understand their needs.

How MCB and ITS Australia worked together

ITS Australia CEO Susan Harris said they wouldn't have secured the Congress without the support of MCB.

"Having the partnership with MCB to secure the Congress in the first place was absolutely critical to ITS Australia winning the Congress and bringing it to Australia", explained Ms Harris.

"MCB was amazing and tireless in their efforts to secure the bid and to help and support us through the bidding progress."

A few years on from the Congress, ITS Australia President Dean Zabrieszach was still receiving feedback from their international colleagues as to the absolute quality of the event and the credibility it gave to the ITS sector here in Australia.

"Not only did they enjoy a very professional congress, but they also enjoyed the social atmosphere and all that Australia has to offer from the point of tourism, and the willingness to come back to Australia in the future," said Mr Zabrieszach.

The day and evening program of engagements were prestigious and hosted at high-profile, visually stunning and iconic venues including the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Many delegates said the social networking events were the “best ever.”

Include Melbourne in your next bid opportunity

Interested in bidding to bring an international convention to Melbourne? Find out more about why you should bid with MCB and reach out to the MCB team to begin a discussion.

About ITS Australia

ITS Australia represents more than one hundred organisations including governments, industry, academia and start-ups. Affiliated with peak ITS organisations around the world, ITS Australia is a major contributor to the development of the industry and host of two ITS World Congresses.