For the first time in the history of MEDICA, the world-leading medical trade fair, and the industry's number one platform for the suppliers of the medical technology industry, COMPAMED, held from 16 to 19 November 2020, took place entirely online due to the pandemic - but still won over their audiences due to their high degree of international resonance in this format too, as virtual.MEDICA and virtual.COMPAMED. Despite a very short registration period, a total of over 1,500 exhibitors took part, hailing from 63 nations. They displayed a huge variety of innovative products, amounting to over 18,300 items, in their online showrooms, and presented live programmes for the healthcare community in over 100 web sessions, which hosted 300 participants at their peak. The community showed avid interest in their droves: Over 45,000 professional visitors (unique users) from 169 nations used the virtual offers and generated 405,000 page impressions. International online visitors to the event made up 78% of the attendees.
"These numbers confirm the prominent international position that MEDICA and COMPAMED hold. They have provided the healthcare economy with significant stimuli during the height of the struggle against the pandemic, with the wide variety of themes that they took on in their specialist programme and the sheer range of exhibitor innovations on offer. Cross-country networking was boosted. The value of personal meetings was given equal importance and this was emphasised in many virtual speeches. We are all looking forward to meeting up again in Düsseldorf in 2021”, concludes Wolfram Diener, CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, looking to the coming year with hope.
Exciting formats - a multitude of innovationsThe Conference Area for both events provided an extensive programme, comprising 430 speakers and 360 individual programme points, and set the course for the laboratory medicine sector and the digitalisation of care processes, among other elements. Both of these subjects are particularly important in managing the pandemic. Prof. Dr. Hendrik Streeck, who provided information on the current options for testing immunity to SARS CoV-2, was one of many top speakers.
The finales of the 12th Healthcare Innovation World Cup (12th HWC) and the 9th MEDICA Start-up COMPETITION provided an electric atmosphere for digital healthcare trends, with pitch presentations from the start-up scene on the internet of medical things, health apps, diagnostics, robotics and artificial intelligence for the healthcare sector. The equal victors of the 12th HWC were: inContAlert (Germany/non-invasive measurement of bladder fullness), BeFC (France/sustainable paper-based energy source for medical devices with low power consumption) and PKvitality (France/blood sugar measurement via Smartwatch). Radiobotics from Denmark emerged as the overall winner of the Start-up Competition, with an AI-based development for radiology, which automatically detects arthritis.
Robot colleagues provide a multi-skilled helping hand in the medical sectorThe highly anticipated highlights in the Exhibition Space (with online showrooms) included the announcement of the winner for the KUKA Innovation Award 2020 from KUKA, a company specialising in robotics and automation. All participating research and developer teams received the lightweight robot LBR Med for this purpose prior to this year’s Medical Robotic Challenge; they then integrated this robotic component into their own concept for developing a medical product. The HIFUSK team from the renowned Scuola Superiore Sant´Anna University in Pisa, Italy won this competition. They won their audiences over with a robotic application concept for focused ultrasound surgery. This non-invasive therapy method has the potential to change cancer treatment, for example, forever. This therapy can also be carried out in outpatient care - it is gentle and the tissue ablation methods do not leave any scars.
An industry in revolution - with a platform to matchExamples such as these show that the medical technology industry is working hand in hand with developers from the research and scientific sectors, at full innovative throttle, to go head-to-head against the challenging business trends. The extent to which the corona pandemic will change the industry, and to what extent a globally functioning (and virtual) platform is needed right now for exchanging and doing good business, is shown by the new trend report: "Wie SARS-CoV-2 die Medizintechnikbranche verändert" (How SARS-CoV-2 Has Changed the Medical Technology Sector). This report was published by the German Industry Association SPECTARIS and Roland Berger (in conjunction with the medical technology cluster MedicalMountains) within the scope of virtual.MEDICA 2020. Regardless of current business conditions and a drop in turnover due to the crisis, experts expect radical changes to occur within the market and in terms of competition in both the middle and long term. "The crisis set an irreversible chain of events into motion. Digital working models and sales, service and exhibition concepts have now taken on a prized position in many companies' strategies, and will continue to be prioritised at least at the same level as classic working methods and personal customer contacts, even after the corona pandemic," explains Jörg Mayer, Executive Director of SPECTARIS.
With regard to virtual.MEDICA, Mayer comments: “Economic activity and winning new customers have been curbed and rendered more difficult by the pandemic. Therefore, it was even more important for the medical technology industry to meet up, at least virtually, at MEDICA. Messe Düsseldorf provided the urgently needed opportunity for exchanging and transferring knowledge in the form of its many forums and conferences. It has also become clear that trade fairs are the primary drivers behind sales and marketing for the industry, even during the pandemic. virtual.MEDICA was a pioneer in this respect - both during the transition period, and it surely will be again in the future when face-to-face events are possible.”
Microtechnology for combating coronaInnovations that can help overcome the pandemic quickly were the centre of attention at virtual.COMPAMED (215 exhibitors) for the supplier market for medical manufacturing. Many companies from the microtechnology sectors are active here, and have banded together under the IVAM Association for Microtechnology. The association organised the English HIGH-TECH FORUM in the Conference Area. Microfluidics is a core technology here, with respect to advancing reliable and economic rapid tests and point-of-care diagnostics. Exhibitors at virtual.COMPAMED offer a broad spectrum of services for this - from contract processing and contract production for disposable microfluidic systems to development and manufacturing of fully automated sample preparation and molecular diagnostic systems.
Dr. Thomas Dietrich, Executive Director of the IVAM, is also turning his attention to the coming year: "I think it's very sensible to encourage more virtual meetings during the corona pandemic. However, meeting in person at trade fairs and conferences remains essential for creating long-term business relationships that are built on trust, and this is simply irreplaceable. This is why we’re already looking forward to seeing our customers again in person at COMPAMED 2021 in Düsseldorf."
The majority of the speeches at virtual.MEDICA and virtual.COMPAMED, along with the accompanying virtual congresses and conferences (e.g. the 43rd German Hospital Conference) will remain available to registered users for viewing online until the end of May 2021. The exhibitors' online showrooms will also be accessible up until then.
MEDICA 2021 and COMPAMED 2021 will be held from 15 - 18 November 2021 as a hybrid event. The hybrid concept consists of combining live platforms for professional visitors to the Düsseldorf trade fair centre and digital offers.