According to Erhard Wienkamp, COO at Messe Düsseldorf, the decision to cancel the 2021 edition of drupa, the world’s trade fair for printing technologies, and present it in a different online format has been an event and industry-specific one.
Following close consultation with exhibitors and partners, drupa 2021 will be cancelled due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The next event will take place as scheduled from 28 May to 7 June 2024. To maintain the momentum until then, the organisers will be holding a four-day digital event titled ‘virtual.drupa’, to take place from 20 to 23 April 2021 during the time frame drupa was originally scheduled for.
‘The pandemic has caused a great deal of uncertainty among exhibitors and visitors in terms of their attendance at drupa 2021. Travel restrictions and budget constraints have further exacerbated the situation in the printing industry’, Wienkamp. ‘We have taken this decision in consultation with our partners, who are entirely supportive of it. It was preceded by a detailed process of considering the current conditions and the needs of the industry.’
Sabine Geldermann, Project Director Print Technologies, added, ‘Our primary goal remains to support the industry in any way we can to keep in contact at a national and international level, further develop their network and generate leads. To this end, we will be holding an interim event from 20 to 23 April, providing our exhibitors and visitors with an additional sales channel and allowing them to make reliable plans.’
Claus Bolza-Schünemann, Chairman at König und Bauer and president of drupa, welcomes this approach, ‘A virtual event is exactly the right format in the current time’, he said. ‘Attending drupa under the usual parameters was just too great a risk for many exhibitors, given declining export and turnover figures, as well as significant travel restrictions, which would also affect visitors. The new digital forum is a virtual platform, providing a reliable pillar and an opportunity to maintain valuable communications within the industry until 2024.’
Launched in October, the drupa preview platform already offers an impression of what ‘virtual.drupa’ will look like. It will give companies the opportunity to showcase themselves and their innovations virtually, as well as maintain existing contacts and establish new ones via the matchmaking feature. In addition, the conference schedule of the five drupa hot spots will provide key incentives and set the agenda for an online transfer of knowledge. For instance, international speakers from vertical markets will present success stories of Future Technologies in the Cube, outlining the future of our industry.
‘Our members are telling us that trade fairs to drive their business forward are still in great demand. The value and appeal of drupa remain intact. The decision to suspend it in 2021 is entirely down to the pandemic,’ stressed Dr Markus Heering, Managing Director of the VDMA Printing and Paper Technology Association. ‘In the long run, it is important for all of us to maintain drupa as an international platform in Europe, as it displays the diversity of our industry. 200 years of expertise are rooted in Europe and must continue. However, we welcome the introduction of the new digital platform as an interim solution until 2024.’
The printing industry continues to fully back its leading global trade fair, whose international reach remains unbroken. As a platform demanding open and competitive market comparison, it is a driving force for innovation, benefiting exhibitors and visitors in equal measure. Through direct contact, people can experience and compare technology trends and innovations and discover new synergies. Replicating its impetus, selling power and unique atmosphere, as well as the ability to exchange ideas with like-minded industry colleagues and nurture relationships, has certain limits when conducted in an online format. The organisers are aiming to satisfy this demand with ‘virtual.drupa’ as well as the annual ‘Print and Digital Convention’ in Düsseldorf, which was developed in cooperation with the Fachverband Medienproduktion e.V. (fmp), until drupa returns as a live event in 2024 with new, valuable parameters and hybrid propositions.
‘Messe Düsseldorf remains in close contact with the authorities and its partners of all other events, and we will evaluate the circumstances in a timely manner to take the responsible decision,’ said Weimkamp.