MEDICA/COMPAMED 2021: Medical technology trade fair in transition

In the total of 24 years as exhibitors, attending Medica every year for our “home match” has already become a routine for us. But last year has shown us: MEDICA/ COMPAMED was forced to take a chance on a hasty digital attempt, but it cannot compete with the original in any aspect. All the greater was the joy that we were allowed to return to the exhibition halls in Düsseldorf this year.

From 15 to 18 November 2021, visitors and exhibitors could meet us in Hall 13, together with our long-time partner BYTEC Medizintechnik. Our sister company milani design and consulting was also at the booth. Theres and Peter had many fruitful conversations with our cooperation partners and visitors who were interested in the medela exhibits from the consumer health sector.

In view of the rising Covid-numbers, the framework in which the trade fair could take place remained exciting until shortly before. But not only the pandemic influences the trade fair business. In recent years, we have observed the development of MEDICA/COMPAMED, both from an exhibitor’s and visitor’s perspective.

In the years leading up to 2019, the numbers of participants rose sharply. In 2015, there are just slightly more than 700 exhibitors, four years later already more than 6200. Visitor numbers have been fairly constant between 120,000 and 130,000 for several years. The digital trade fair in 2020 provided a break: in 2021, there are only 46,000 visitors and about 3500 exhibitors. A trend which is already evident before the start of the pandemic is reinforced by Covid-19. Large brands are withdrawing and the fair in general is becoming more small-format.

In this context, we also perceive a shift from B2C to B2B. As Markus Wild already stated in the interview in the podcast “Düsseldorfer Wirtschaft”, “trade fair” always means a fairly large investment for a company. In the last few years, exhibitors have been pushing each other: more and more was invested, the booths were always one size bigger, higher, more beautiful.

Now, the pandemic offers the opportunity to finally turn back the cost spiral a bit, or to opt out completely without it having a negative connotation. It remains to be seen whether this trend will continue or whether some of the market-leading companies that are particularly attractive to visitors will also return to the trade fair.

For WILDDESIGN, however, this trend does not necessarily mean a disadvantage. In the interview in “Düsseldorfer Wirtschaft”, the focus is also on the advantages of the trade fair on site as well as the expectations for this year’s MEDICA/COMPAMED. For Markus Wild, part of a successful trade fair is the chance to initiate projects together with new and old partners and to network spontaneously. After the four days of the fair, the WILDDESIGN team is more than satisfied: Despite increasing Covid-numbers, the trade fair could “just barely” take place within the usual framework and it was nice to meet visitors and exhibitors live on site again.

We are taking two exciting topics from MEDICA/COMPAMED with us for the near future. First, we have received several inquiries for projects in emerging markets. Specifically, this means developments in robust and simple design that can be used globally even in difficult environmental conditions. Another trend which appeared strong again this year is the interest of start-ups and innovators in considering design as an important factor in the success of their idea right from the start.

A disproportionate number of ideas were put on our table to talk about the right design as early as possible. Many of these ideas had an astonishingly high degree of novelty, so that one can already speak of something like a start-up jolt in the scene. And the founders are more realistic than they were years ago, planning their projects with a good lead time and realistic scope. In some cases, we were also able to find investors in our network and connect them right away at the fair.  So, we are certainly looking forward to some interesting new tasks in Q2 2022 at the latest. 

After three and a half intensive days in Düsseldorf, we are overall hopeful about our trade fair future and of course, we wish that MEDICA/COMPAMED can also take place in a similar framework in 2022!

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Lydia writes about design processes and our medical design projects.

Originally written by Lydia Münstermann, 18. March 2022. Last updated 18. March 2022


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