09.12.2020

Drupa 2021 now a virtual show, physical expo to return in 2024

After a number of big-ticket exhibitors decided to stay away from Drupa 2021, after the show, originally scheduled for 2020, was postponed by a year owing the Covid-19 pandemic, now, the organiser Messe Düsseldorf has announced the cancellation of the physical expo planned for 2021 entirely, along with a raft of other events including Interpack.

Instead, there will be a ‘Virtual.Drupa’ event from 20-23 April 2021, the scheduled dates for the cancelled show, while the actual exhibition will skip an entire cycle and return in 2024.

A host of other events organised by Messe Düsseldorf are also cancelled, including Interpack Drupa 2024 is scheduled for 28 May to 7 June 2024. An exodus of big name exhibitors and ongoing travel restrictions and uncertainty because of the pandemic had led many in the industry to believe that cancelling the show was the only sensible course of action.

“Our primary goal remains to support the industry,” said Sabine Geldermann, director of Drupa and Print Technologies at Messe Düsseldorf. “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.”

A host of other events planned for the first half of next year at the Messe are also cancelled, including Interpack.

Reacting to the development, Tushar Dhote, immediate past president, Mumbai Mudrak Sangh, said, “I understand that we need to embrace digital technology and shift to a virtual platform in future, but the fun of meeting people at the exhibition, the one-to-one with exhibitors at their respective stands, the true picture of their company, all these things cannot be experienced through a virtual show, though they may form an integral part of our lives in future.”

Messe Düsseldorf chief operating officer Erhard Wienkamp said the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic had caused too much uncertainty in terms of exhibitor and visitor attendance, and many companies were also affected by budget restraints. “We have taken this decision in consultation with our partners, who are entirely supportive of it,” he stated.

Drupa president and Koenig & Bauer chairman Claus Bolza-Schünemann, who until recently had maintained staunch support for the exhibition going ahead, said, “A virtual event is exactly the right format in the current time. 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.” K&B said it had already decided to participate in the “exciting” Virtual.Drupa event.

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 hotspots 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.

Drupa 2021 had been due to run from 20-28 April, having already been shortened to nine days from 11. The exhibition was originally set to take place from 16-26 June 2020. Ironically, Drupa would have taken place in 2019, and would have missed the pandemic, if exhibitors at the last Drupa in 2016 had not pushed back on the Messe’s plans to switch from a four- to three-year cycle.


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