IFA, the consumer electronics megashow in Berlin, recalibrates for the coronavirus pandemic

IFA Berlin, which is set for Sept. 3-5, has segmented the show into four categories in order to abide by German restrictions on gatherings of 5,000 people due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jens Heithecker, executive vice president Messe Berlin Group, and IFA executive director, explained how show organizers approached recalibrating the show amid social distancing guidelines. Photo by Mark Phillips/Aftermarket Intel

One of the world’s largest electronics shows, which includes mobility and automotive exhibitors, has taken an innovative approach to hosting its 2020 show.

IFA Berlin, which is set for Sept. 3-5, has segmented the show into four categories in order to abide by German restrictions on gatherings of 5,000 people due to the coronavirus pandemic. IFA, which is organized by Messe Berlin, held a global virtual press conference Tuesday to lay out what the show will look like. The show will continue in-person, albeit in smaller format with an invite-only status. The show will be closed to the public.

Jens Heithecker, executive vice president Messe Berlin Group, and IFA executive director, explained how show organizers approached recalibrating the show amid social distancing guidelines.

“The coronavirus crisis has once again shown us we can follow what’s happening in the world in real-time like never before. We can see the human suffering and we are feeling the pain. For many, technology is making this difficult situation more bearable,” said Heithecker. “Technology helps doctors and scientists collaborate globally like never before. We now can capture, share and analyze data at a volume and speed that would have not been possible even just a few years ago. We know that business as usual is not possible. So we thought long and hard whether it’s possible for IFA to happen at all. In all our deliberations, we had only one priority: health and safety must come first.”

In 2019, IFA recorded more than 245,000 visitors, with more than 2,000 exhibitors. For 2020, it will be divided into four, stand-alone events, each of them with less than 1,000 attendees for each event, per day.

“Our world needs new technology to inform and entertain us, to make us more productive and to keep us safe and healthy. To access these technologies, our world depends on global trade. It cannot simply shut down the global economy and tell everybody to come back next year,” Heithecker said. “Too many jobs and therefore the well-being and frankly, the mental health of too many people and families are at stake… Our industry urgently needs the platform that can showcase its innovations so that it can recover and rebound.”

The four events for IFA 2020 will be:

IFA Global Press Conference: A showcase event with 800 journalists from around the world, this year it becomes Global Showcase for Innovation and Technology.The opening keynote for this year’s IFA will be delivered by Cristiano Amon, the president of Qualcomm. Amon will speak about the company’s latest developments in 5G, AI and other key technologies that will drive the future of the Internet and deliver the devices and capabilities the world needs, Messe Berlin said.

IFA NEXT meets IFA SHIFT Mobility: The event will bring together technology start-ups and companies in the connected mobility sector

IFA Global Markets: A dedicated sourcing show to repair the supply chains affected by the pandemic.

IFA Business, Retail & Meeting Lounges: IFA Berlin will curate the IFA Business, Retail & Meeting Lounges to give brands and manufacturers the much-needed opportunity to meet retailers in a safe and efficient manner ahead of the year’s all-important shopping season.


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