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by Michael J. Shapiro | October 07, 2011

The Professional Convention Management Association announced yesterday that its board of directors has approved a strategic investment in the Virtual Edge Institute, an organization dedicated to education and training in the field of virtual and hybrid events. In a virtual press conference, both organizations emphasized their continued independence in the venture. "Our investment is for the industry," explained chairman of PCMA's board of directors Susan Katz, "this isn't for PCMA alone." In fact, VEI officials said they are eager to work closely with other industry associations as well and currently are involved in discussions to do so, said executive director Michael Doyle. This investment, he said, simply will help accelerate VEI's current mission: to offer unbiased education around virtual event technology, and conduct more research to help develop best practices. VEI's annual meeting, the Virtual Edge Summit, will be co-located for the second time with PCMA's Convening Leaders meeting this coming January in San Diego. While the co-location relationship isn't an exclusive one, PCMA CEO Deborah Sexton expects that, at the very least, PCMA will continue to offer branded VEI educational sessions at its events for the foreseeable future. Sexton declined to specify the amount of PCMA's investment in VEI, describing it only as "substantial but not too substantial." Whether the investment is an ongoing one remains to be seen. "If the results are as positive as we think they'll be," she said, "I wouldn't be surprised if this is an ongoing relationship."