HANNOVER MESSE is 60 years old | Automation.com

HANNOVER MESSE is 60 years old

• From steel to silicon chip
• From Cold War confrontation to globalization

18 August 1947 is a landmark date in the history of Europe's post-war business culture. On that day 60 years ago the first "Hannover Export Fair" was born, which subsequently entered the annals of history as the "Sardine Sandwich Show" (because each one of the 700,000 visitors was welcomed at the door with a sardine sandwich). This event laid the foundation stone for today's HANNOVER MESSE, and consequently for the great success story that the Hannover Exhibition Centre has become. Within a few years this trade fair for capital goods had become a symbol of the German "economic miracle," a reliable barometer of economic and business trends and a sophisticated meeting place for leaders of the business, scientific and political communities. The names of the many heads of state, political celebrities and CEOs who have attended the show would fill an extremely exclusive visitors' book. Today the razzmatazz of earlier years has given way to a more sober, nuts-and-bolts approach to what makes a product sell in today's competitive world. The opening of global markets is forcing businesses to become more efficient and more creative. As the operator of the Hannover Exhibition Centre, Deutsche Messe has faced up to the challenges by constantly adapting HANNOVER MESSE to the changing needs of the marketplace. The decision in 1986 to establish CeBIT - originally an integral part of HANNOVER MESSE - as a separate trade fair in its own right was a major milestone in the history of the event - and indeed in the history of the Hannover trade show business.

Always politically engaged
Now as in earlier years, the Fair is influenced by political developments. Before German reunification the dominant factor influencing events was East-West relations. Now it is the growing impact of globalization. For decades HANNOVER MESSE ignored the existence of the Iron Curtain and forged political and economic alliances that outlasted the Cold War. Following reunification, attention turned to the markets of Eastern Europe. In the years before that, newly established EU member countries such as Portugal and Greece took their first steps inside a united Europe through the presence of their exhibiting companies at HANNOVER MESSE. And Austria was chosen as the official HANNOVER MESSE Partner Country in the year before it joined the EU.

Topical issues: climate change and product piracy
Today the HANNOVER MESSE agenda is shaped by the international debate about issues such as the growing demand for energy, the export or retention of manufacturing jobs, protection against product piracy and the shortage of young skilled workers to fill the vacancies in industry. Mindful of its role, Deutsche Messe consciously gives these problems a high-profile platform and invites discussion and answers in forums such as the World Energy Dialogue, congresses on a vast range of themes and a whole series of impressive special displays. Sepp D. Heckmann, Chairman of the Board at Deutsche Messe AG, is absolutely clear about the show's unique capacity to stimulate debate: "No other event can offer so much in the way of new ideas and inspirations, new product developments and innovations that have applications in - and implications for - a whole spread of industrial sectors." There is no doubt that the successful reception of the Fair by exhibitors and visitors alike is due to its broad-spectrum coverage of modern manufacturing industry - this year's event is made up of twelve sector-specific trade fairs, for example - and to the massive international presence at the show, which boasts a total 6,000 exhibitors from some 60 countries.

Format constantly under review
It is clear from the foregoing that there is no future in being nostalgic about the past. Throughout its 60-year history HANNOVER MESSE has continued to change in line with changing economic realities. At one time the rows of elegant pavilions lining the so-called "Steel Avenue" on the Exhibition Grounds were showcases for Germany's steel barons, led by Krupp boss Berthold Beitz - as these were the men who shaped the economic fortunes of the country at the time. Now their place has been taken by famous-name companies who compete for positions of leadership in global markets with their high-tech products and systems solutions.

From steel to silicon chip, from steam locomotives weighing 125 tonnes to nanotechnology products that are virtually invisible to the naked eye: HANNOVER MESSE is itself a product that is constantly evolving. In order to stay at the cutting edge and give a lead in the ongoing debate about technology and innovation, Deutsche Messe will continue to take its cue from the market. As Sepp D. Heckmann puts it: "In order to develop export markets for its products at an affordable cost, industry needs high-profile trade fairs that present an entire industrial sector at all stages of the production cycle, thereby delivering a clear added value for foreign visitors."

By working in close alliance with industry, viable and effective concepts for the future can be hammered out in partnership. And both partners would certainly subscribe to the slogan for this year's HANNOVER MESSE: Get new Technology first!
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