In the second half of the 1990s, several early adopter groups were identifying internationally that digital technologies would become, in the broad sense, strategically important to the future of reconstruction of the head and neck. Equally, these groups were experiencing difficulty in finding opportunity to present and publish on the subject. An added aspect at that time was that industry interests in digital technology were emerging strongly.

By 2000, the early adopter groups of advanced digital technologies in head and neck reconstruction began to identify one another and to coalesce. In 2001, John Wolfaardt and Adrian Sugar made the decision to host an exploratory meeting by inviting a small group to meet with industry representatives to discuss how future development should be approached considering the challenges confronting the field. In March, 2002 they hosted the first international meeting on advanced digital technologies in reconstruction of the head and neck.

The meeting was held at the Misericordia Hospital, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. At this time, the groups in Edmonton, Canada and Swansea, Wales identified several other important pioneers in this field who amongst other were Professor Rainer Schmelzeisen (Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg, Germany), Dr Robert van Oort (University Medical Centre Groningen, the Netherlands), Dr Henk Verdonck and Dr Jules Poukens (University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands), Dr Richard Bibb (PDR/UWIC, Cardiff, Wales), Mr Peter Evans and Mr Alan Bocca (Morriston Hospital, Swansea, Wales), Ms Rosemary Seelaus (iRSM, Edmonton, Canada). The meeting in Edmonton had unexpected consequences as, while it was designed as a by-invitation only small gathering, the meeting had to be closed at over 100 participants. The end point of the meeting was the decision to go on to a 2nd International conference.

The 2nd International ADT2005 meeting was held at the Banff Springs Hotel and Conference Centre in 2005. The meeting was attended by some 250 international delegates and over 20 industry partners. The Banff conference was characterized by the remarkable rate of development and convergence of advanced digital technology application in head and neck reconstruction. It was also evident that health technology assessment, ethics, health economics, materials and other germane subjects were as important to consider as the digital technology itself. With the success of the Banff conference, the decision of the conference body was to proceed to the 3rd international ADT2008 conference in Cardiff, Wales.

The 3rd conference was hosted by Adrian Sugar and his team. Again the number of participants and industry partners exceeded the venue capacity. The Cardiff conference was marked by the rapid advances made by surgical applications and technology diversity from Europe. The result was that the decision was taken to select Freiburg, Germany as the conference venue for ADT2011. To be invested by Professor Rainer Schmelzeisen.

The ADT conferences have been seen as being remarkable and very different events. These meetings are structured to be broadly based in all aspects of care related to the head and neck. They involve a wide range of disciplines such as surgery, dentistry, rehabilitation medicine, diagnostic imaging, and radiation oncology, computing science, computer engineering, materials science, health technology assessment, health economics, basic sciences, and ethics. Fundamental is that Industry has also been directly involved as this field requires direct collaboration of industry, clinicians and researchers. The consequence is that industry is involved not merely as exhibitors but as important participants in the conference proceedings. The intent is that the meetings are generators of innovation and visioning the future.

With wide consultation and advice, the time had been reached where the ADT structure had matured to a point where development of a sustaining and supporting structure was required. Additionally, international sections of the ADT have begun to emerge. These and other developments required that the ADT structured for the future. This has led to the establishment of the ADT Foundation. The ADT Foundation will guide and facilitate the ADT, work to place the ADT on a stable financial base and manage the conferences. The ADT Foundation looks forward to working with you to continue to provide an imaginative and innovative environment for sharing and collaborating on advanced digital technology development, in head and neck reconstruction and rehabilitation.

In the tradition of the ADT, exciting new venues are being planned by the ADT team. We look forward to meeting with you and your colleagues to advance the future of Advance Digital Technology. Thank you for your interest and support.