Exhibition World Issue 2 — 2019 - Page 58

City focus Maastricht, an exhibition entreaty aastricht, where the Treaty on European Union was signed in 1992 is, together with the surrounding region, fast emerging as a new life sciences hub, with all the potential that has for a new seam of exhibitions and events. Innovation and knowledge can be leveraged via the city’s universities, institutes and competitive clusters, to build a sustainable future, including for events. The city boasts facilities such as Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, the Maastricht University Medical Centre+ (MUMC+), and the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences of the Maastricht University. The city’s bio-hub credentials are further burnished by three major international events targeting the sector. The annual European Conference on Biomaterials, and the European Congress on Biotechnology will come to MECC in 2020, and the Congress of the European Society of Biomechanics (ESB) in 2021. Applications developed in the city’s research institutions in recent years include the development of complete heart valves, tissue for bone reconstruction and even minuscule artificial ‘spheres’ measuring a hundredth of a millimetre filled with antibiotics that release medicine at the exact location of an infection. The city is also one of the top 10 locations in Europe for medical and health science valorisation. “Exhibitions are great platforms to showcase knowledge and provide opportunities for the sharing of best practices. In terms of legacy, they leave more behind than what delegates spend in hotels and restaurants. If you want to demonstrate the kind of ‘output’ values that are associated with exhibitions like TEFAF, UTECH Europe, Stainless Steel World, 58 Issue 2 2019 Organisers say: “MECC continues to be a great venue for UTECH Europe [polyeurathanes exhibition), as we are happy to return again in April 2021. We have seen growth year over year since first bringing our show in 2006. Maastricht is well located to attract visitors from many European countries.” Debbie Hershfield, Tradeshow Director UTECH Europe, Crain Communications APEX, you indeed have to think in broad terms and look at the economic, business, professional, academic and community benefits that such events create,” says Oana Cipca, Manager International Business Development for Exhibitions at MECC. Renovation at MECC A major €49m upgrade and expansion of MECC Maastricht, which already has 30,000sqm of exhibition space, will begin in June 2019. In 2021 the new-look venue will be able to accommodate events for up to 5,000 guests simultaneously, up from today’s 3,000. “This will help us to play an even larger role in the international conference and exhibition world,” says venue Director Rob van de Wiel. TEFAF in the house One huge piece of recent business was the TEFAF (The European Art Fair), which has been hosted at MECC Maastricht for 31 years. The exhibition halls were transformed again this March for a world exhibition of art of the highest level, all seen by 70,000 visitors. During TEFAF, the city becomes an expansion of the show and one of the conditions in the 10-year contract signed last year with TEFAF, was that the exhibition and the city would be more connected through more activities in the city centre. Examples were the special TEFAF Club where visitors and exhibitors of TEFAF could enjoy a drink and a dance “In addition to two successful editions of the Second Home Fair every year in other locations, we have made the choice with our exhibitors to organise a third edition at the MECC Maastricht… It is unique to have a venue as a partner and not as a supplier.” Henkjan Prins, Second Home, Fairs Consult in the evenings. There were special TEFAF menus in restaurants and TEFAF flags around the city. Why Maastricht? Maastricht is a compact city but close to eight airports (the two main hubs are Brussels Zaventem and Düsseldorf Airport) and good national and international train connections. It has a strong exhibition community, not least because everything is within walking distance: venues, hotels and the city centre. An exhibitor badge can mean travel free on public bus transport within Maastricht. The city also offers 5,000 hotel rooms. w w w.exhibitionworld.co.uk