Annual MEDICA conference successful as virtual event

Nov. 20, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MEDICA, the world-leading medical trade fair and COMPAMED, the international No. 1 trade fair for the medical manufacturing supply market, were for the first time be held entirely online as virtual.MEDICA and virtual.COMPAMED – and were successful with high international participation.  

Despite a very short registration period, over 1,500 exhibitors from 63 nations took part, showcasing a wide variety of 18,300 products in their showrooms. They also presented live programs for the healthcare community in over 100 web sessions (with up to 300 participants at peak times). The healthcare community showed avid interest: Over 45,000 trade visitors (unique users) from 169 nations used the virtual offers and generated 405,000 page impressions. The proportion of international online visitors was 78 percent. 

“These numbers confirm the prominent international position of MEDICA and COMPAMED. With their thematically diverse specialist program and the wide range of innovations presented by the exhibitors, they have given important impetus to the healthcare industry during the peak phase of the fight against the pandemic. Cross-country networking was strengthened. Just as important: the value of personal meetings was emphasized in many virtual contributions. We are all looking forward to meeting again in Düsseldorf in 2021”, stated Wolfram Diener, President and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf. 

The Conference Area of both events offered a comprehensive program consisting of 430 speakers and 360 individual program sessions and set the course for the laboratory medicine sector and the digitalization of care processes - both topics of particular importance in the context of pandemic management. Among the top speakers was Prof. Dr. Hendrik Streeck, who provided information on the current options for testing immunity against SARS CoV-2. 

The finals of the 12th Healthcare Innovation World Cup (12th HWC) and the 9th MEDICA Start-up COMPETITION offered insights into digital health trends with pitch presentations of from starts-ups on the internet of medical things, health apps, diagnostics, robotics and artificial intelligence for the healthcare sector. Equal winners of the 12th HWC were: inContAlert (Germany/ non-invasive urinary bladder filling measurement), BeFC (France/ sustainable paper-based energy source for medical devices with low power consumption) and PKvitality (France/ blood glucose measurement via Smartwatch). Radiobotics from Denmark was the overall winner of the Start-up COMPETITION with an artificial intelligence-based development for radiology which automatically detects arthritis. 

The KUKA Innovation Award 2020 award from KUKA, a company specializing in robotics and automation, was given to the HIFUSK team from the Scuola Superiore Sant´Anna University in Pisa, Italy, with a robotic application concept for focused ultrasound surgery. This non-invasive therapy method has the potential to change cancer treatment in the future since this therapy can also be performed on an outpatient basis - it is gentle and the tissue ablation methods do not leave any scars. 

Such examples show that the medical technology industry is working hand in hand with developers from research and science full of innovative power to counteract the challenging business development.  

The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will change the industry and the need for a globally functioning (including virtual) platform for exchange and good business is demonstrated in the new trend report “How SARS-CoV-2 is changing the medical technology industry”. This report by the German industry association SPECTARIS and Roland Berger (in cooperation with the medical technology cluster MedicalMountains) was published as part of virtual.MEDICA 2020. Regardless of the current business trend with declining sales due to the crisis, experts also expect drastic market and competitive changes in the medium to long term. “The crisis has set in motion a process that is irreversible. Digital working models as well as sales, service and exhibition concepts now play a very important role in the strategy of many companies and will, even after COVID-19, continue to be prioritized at least at the same level as traditional working methods and personal customer contacts,” explained Jörg Mayer, Managing Director of SPECTARIS. 

Regarding virtual.MEDICA, Mayer added: “Economic activity and winning new customers have been curbed and made 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.” 

Most 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 online until the end of May 2021. The exhibitors’ online showrooms will also be accessible until then. 

The next staging of MEDICA and COMPAMED will be held from Nov. 15 to 18, 2021 as hybrid events. The hybrid concept consists of combining a live event for trade visitors at the fairgrounds in Düsseldorf, Germany and digital offers.  

Virtual MEDICA has the event.