The international technology trade show known at IFA in Berlin, Germany will be moving forward as a live, though scaled back, invitation-only three-day event this September 3-5, 2020. The reformatted “IFA 2020 Special Event,” was announced by event organizers via a virtual press conference Tuesday.

The restructured international technology showcase, which was given an official go-ahead, has traditionally served as a global launch pad for new high-tech products immediately prior to the critical fourth-quarter holiday shopping season. But in the wake of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the event is being significantly downsized in the interest of the health and safety of exhibitors, attendees and trade show personnel, said Jens Heithecker, IFA executive director.

“Focused on IFA’s core functions, the IFA 2020 Special Edition supports brands, manufacturers, media and retailers to connect and celebrate innovation across consumer electronics and home appliances,” IFA organizers announced.

The invite-only event will put strict limits on the number of attendees and focus on IFA’s four global core functions, which include: an innovation showcase for brands; a platform for cutting-edge technologies; a sourcing event for OEMs and ODMs; and a marketplace where retailers and brands can come together, IFA said.

“IFA 2020 will be the first opportunity for the consumer electronics and home appliances industries to present new products and services directly to media and – by extension – to consumers and trade,” according to the special show announcement.

The physical show will take place inside the usual sprawling Messe Berlin fairgrounds, where, ironically one of the halls will remain in reserve as an emergency hospital in the event of a second wave of the contagion flares up, according to the event organizers.

Unlike prior shows, the 2020 IFA will not be open to the general public. Instead, the event will allow in a total of 5,000 people. Only 800 invited journalists from 50 countries will be allowed to attend the event in person. Exhibitor presentations will take place from just two event stages.

As it traditionally does, IFA 2020 will take place just days prior to the custom electronics designers and installers trade show CEDIA 2020, which is still planned to take place from the Denver Convention Center on Sept. 8-12th in Denver, Co. That event, which also breaks new technology news, focuses on the most upscale technologies and has more of a North American focus. Typically, many new of the more mainstream consumer product announcements that appear at CEDIA are first made at the Berlin event.

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The overall IFA 2020 show will move forward as four parallel but separate events focusing on different segments with not more than 1,000 attendees per each event per day. Each part will consist of the following:

IFA NEXT meets IFA SHIFT Mobility

For this year only, IFA is combining its two innovation platforms – IFA Next and SHIFT Mobility. The event will bring together technology start-ups and companies in the connected mobility sector, to help benefit from publicity and industry connections.
“For innovators, disruptors, tech journalists and digital influencers interested in the cutting edge of technology, this will be the year’s most important event to attend,” according to the IFA announcement.

IFA Global Markets

During the past three years, IFA Global Markets has grown to become Europe’s largest sourcing show for OEMs and ODMs. It will be the year’s first dedicated sourcing show in the world, organizers said. This is being offered to repair and restructure global supply chains in the wake of COVID-19.

IFA Business, Retail & Meeting Lounges

The lounges will be provided to manufacturers as a location and opportunity to meet with retailers in a safe and efficient manner to conduct deals ahead of the year’s holiday shopping season.

Virtual IFA Experience

For consumers, journalists or anyone else who can’t make the trade show in person, IFA 2020 will be presenting each of the exhibitor presentations and keynotes virtually to the global public live. For those in attendance, exhibitors will then be allowed to set up scaled-down booths (by traditional standards) where journalists will be able to see products up close and get further information in a more individual way.

The opening keynote for this year’s IFA will be delivered by Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm president,, who will speak about the company’s latest developments in 5G, AI and other key technologies that will drive the future of the Internet.

To provide critical separation, IFA will be divided into four key technology sections to limit crowd sizes in the available space.

Heithecker said the new format of the show will provide a measured step toward the relaunch and rebuilding of the various segments of the global technology industry that like most industries has been adversely impacted by the limitations imposed by sheltering-in-place and quarantine imperatives around the world.

IFA organizers said the trade show was given the go-ahead in its new limited re-structured capacity by German and EU governments. Things, of course, could change again before the event takes place, should a second wave of the outbreak emerge.

IFA is now opening registration to exhibitors willing to participate in the new format, but profitability will not be the focus of the show, according to organizers.

Budgets and costs for manufacturer participation will be reduced from regular rates, Heithecker said, adding: “We want to be part of the solution… Our world needs new technology. Our world depends on global trade.”

Still to be determined is which companies will choose to participate in the current de-escalating coronavirus climate and how successful measures will be to slowly open areas of the world to business without re-igniting the spread of the virus.

In related news, IFA said that its CE China global trade show is planned to take place from Guangzhou, China September 24-26th. The global IFA event is positioned as “one of the most important business shows for consumer electronics and home appliances solutions in China.”

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By Greg Tarr

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