No one yet knows the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting the entire world, and we are still a long way from the "new normal", but the technology industry has been an important element for businesses and users, and it is important that can continue to maintain its activity. This is the basis for the argument used by Jens Heithecker, vice president of Messe Berlin, during the virtual press conference that took place this morning, and where he announced that after all there will be an IFA 2020 that is not virtual, contrary to what had been anticipated.
Every year the Berlin IFA brings together thousands of participants and the main brands in the world of technology, with a presence that extends globally. It is the main consumer technology fair and also B2B in Europe, moving an additional 4.7 billion euros per year. In 2019 the exhibition space extended to 26 pavilions (27 with a new hub for more conferences that opened this year), animated for six days with close to 2 thousand exhibitors and almost 164 thousand square meters.
But this year is going to be very different. "We know that we cannot shut down the global economy, and the economy needs technology. Innovation has not stopped," said the vice president of Messe Berlin, recalling that the industry urgently needs a platform to showcase innovation in order to resume normality and that companies are preparing for important dates, such as Black Friday, Christmas and Chinese New Year.
Jens Heithecker shared his personal view of the pandemic, saying that like other people he was afraid of those close to him, and uncertainty also affected the plans of Messe Berlin, and the IFA, which has a budget of millions of euros. "Berlin was one of the least affected cities, but in September we don't know how the global panorama is going to be, some countries may maintain travel restrictions and restrictions," he explains.
IFA 2020 limited to professionals, but with open videoconferences
IFA 2020 will take place from 3 to 5 September, but without public visitors, and in four separate events: IFA Global Press Conference for the press, IFA Business, Retail, Meeting Lounges, IFA Global Markets, and Shift Mobility meets IFA Next .
Each day there will be a strict limit to one thousand participants, not exceeding the 5,000 defined by the German authorities as a maximum in public events. All the authorities' recommendations for social distance, wearing masks and hygiene will also be followed, a guarantee given by Messe Berlin during the press conference that took place this morning.
There is currently a coronavirus Hospital in the space where the IFA is held, at Messe Berlin, but Jens Heithecker guarantees that there will be space and conditions for the event.
"This is the best solution at this time", underlines the vice president of Messe Berlin, saying that it is a way to support the industry, maintaining the personal contact that is so important. However, he admits that no one knows what impact the COVID-19 pandemic may have on events in the future. "My personal hope is that people will miss IFA 2020 and will return in the coming years," he says.
For professionals who are unable to be present in this limited access model, as well as for the public, there will be a video conference transmission model, which will be open.
Asked about the financial impact of changing plans, Jens Heithecker says that it is time to talk about numbers but to support partners and brands. "We want to be part of the solution", he reinforces.
There are still no figures on the participation of exhibitors, and the presence of countries, data that are likely to be released in the coming months.
CE China, also organized by the IFA in Guangzhou, will also take place in September, with a date set between the 24th and 26th of that month.
Editor's note: The news has been updated with more information