Bulgarian-Slovenian cooperation brings to four new technical exhibitions into IEC, Sofia

Automation & RoboticsInterviewSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 2/2011

Mr. Toni Laznik
CEO at ICM Slovenia

Dear Mr. Laznik, could you please present the history of your partnership and your plans for future cooperation with Bulgarreklama Agency, Sofia, Bulgaria?
I have known Bulgarreklama and the Ivanov family since many years, as we have been in the Exhibition business for over 20 years. Few years ago we started with the idea of how our long experience in the exhibition industry and our friendship could bring more benefits to our businesses (organizing exhibitions) and also to our partners - exhibitors & visitors. Our long and fruitful communication has resulted into these new for the Bulgarian market exhibitions in the industrial sectors.

As a result of your cooperation INTER EXPO CENTER (IEC) will host new technical exhibitions next year - IFAM, Intronika, MachTech & Metal and Plast Bulgaria. Most of them are completely unknown to the Bulgarian market, so could you please present their main concept to our readers? What will be the new concerning MachTech & Metal as it will be the third edition of MachTech?
ICM is a 100 % private specialized company for organizing B2B trade fairs, events & conferences. In this focus we developed a few of our B2B trade fairs. Specific for all our B2B trade fairs is that we tailored them on demand of exhibitors and visitors and therefore we use the principle of modules. So we have module or ’Platform for exhibitors’, then we have Platform for Education, which means Business Forum, Workshops, Conferences etc., Platform for Young Entrepreneurs  and a few others,  which became very useful during the years. We offer them to axhibitors and visitors as an added value to the basic modules: IFAM - which covers the fields of automation, robotics, mechatronics, sensor technology, vision systems, production informatics; INTRONIKA is also a  B2B trade fair which focuses on professional and industrial electronic, components, communication, etc. Both B2B exhibitions have been  organized in Slovenia very successfully for a few years now. In February 2011 we launched them - both - also very successfully in Serbia.
PLAST is a B2B trade fair devoted to plastic and rubber industry developed and launched very successfully in Serbia and the region together with the specialized B2B trade fair METAL, which is focused on foundry, tools, welding, machineries, ore, etc. We found great potential in merging both B2B exhibitions with the aim of optimizing synergies for exhibitors and professional visitors. All our trade fairs are modular, as already mentioned. We offer to all professional visitors ’free of charge’ attendance at the Business Forum where exhibitors present their novelties, products, services, success stories and innovations.One of the most important achievements of our exhibitions is that they attract more than 87% of the top management, decision makers and even owners, who have the power to decide! Joining MachTech & METAL is the first step in our efforts to support metal industry not only in Bulgaria, but also within the region. We are working very intensively in this field and already have agreed with Fiera Pordenone to offer to few exhibitors from our MachTech & METAL exhibition a free overnight stay in Pordenone at their B2B exhibition Samumetal in February 2012.

Could you point out some specific features of these types of professional exhibitions in Slovenia, Serbia and Bulgaria? How would you estimate the technical level of their participants and visitors?
Of greatest significance for this type of b2b exhibitions is the aim of fulfilling the expectations of exhibitors and visitors. They both need to make business and exhibitions are the unique and right platform for ’face to face’ meetings,  presentations and negotiations - of course, if  both decision makers and management are aware of  how important their presence at the exhibition is.  Professional visitors are coming with a clear idea of what they need and what answers they are looking for. To achieve these results we aid them though many activities such as: direct mailing, invitations, Golden Coupons for free access after registration of professional visitors, keeping  them informed about the activities which exhibitors are preparing for them, etc.

ICM is helping young entrepreneurs participating in the exhibitions with a number of initiatives. Could you describe some of them?
Yes, we believe that partnership is not just selling and buying. It’s growing up with business and  strengthening with the years. So we have decided to offer many benefits to young entrepreneurs at their start - because we also started like this and we know very well how difficult each start is! We offer from discounts for exhibition space to marketing or business packages, consulting and education within the Business Academy, etc.

Tell us more about your intention for establishment of Business Academy. In what way the Bulgarian exhibitors could benefit from this initiative?
We started the ICM Business Academy in Slovenia  8 years ago and there we developed a few topics to help companies, so they successfully prepare for participation in an exhibition, how to attract and invite the right visitors. Recently we launched also the basics of project management in exhibition (marketing) industry. As a start of all these topics we used the Faculties of the Universities and other High profile schools. Now, two years later, we already have the first highly positive results .
The aim of the Business Academy is to teach old and new exhibitors how to exhibit, when to take the decision for participation, how to invite visitors, how to build the booth to attract the sight of the visitors when entering the hall - in general how to use trade fairs as the most efficient platform for their promotion, so that they get their ROI (return of investment).


Mr. Ivaylo Ivanov
Executive Director in
Bulgarreklama Agency

Dear Mr. Ivanov, would you present your partner relations with ICM, Slovenia? What factors influenced your choice of a new partner and thematic development in your exhibition program for 2012?
As early as the first months of the coming year /February 28 - March 02, 2012 /, Inter Expo Centre -Sofia will hold the largest Balkan industrial exhibition, featuring six business themes of a technical character. We will have ICM from Slovenia as one of our partners in this spectacular initiative, in its capacity of an enterprise well-experienced in organizing technical shows up to European standards, working for many years in Slovenia, and in Serbia recently. We share a number of common goals with ICM, we are both members of UFI - The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, and of CEFA - Central European Fair Alliance, which is a key factor to join hands.
Ever since IEC opened to the public, we keep extending the exhibition themes,the dominant portion taken definitely by b2b specialized exhibitions. By way of initiating new exhibitions with ICM, we give prominence to a new segment, namely industrial equipment. As you know, innovations here are crucial for the successful development and to increase further competitiveness in key industries. There is a market demand for specialized exhibitions like this, and our decision was a logical outcome of our wish to close that gap. The range includes innovations in automation, mechanical engineering, robotics, electronics, metallurgy, machine building, as well as the latest achievements  in the plastics and rubber sectors.

As a result of your cooperation INTER EXPO CENTER (IEC) will host four new technical exhibitions in the beginning of the next year - IFAM, Intronika, MachTech & Metal and Plast Bulgaria, which will be held along with the approved Transportation and Logistics and Security - Privacy and Security. How the new shows will attract specialists to the halls of Inter Expo Center?
According to our concept on these industrial shows, the exhibits shall be displayed in four halls , thus expanding and enriching visitors’ options. Each hall shall have a seminar zone for organization of business forums and events - business meetings, lectures, demonstrations and presentations of new products, technologies and other company novelties. Apart from the well-known  information model, the specialized public (engineers, inventors, designers, engineering specialists, experts  and managers) would  be able to learn and witness the operation and efficacy of the innovations exhibited by their domestic and foreign colleagues.
The scale of the exhibitions and their format will anyway draw the attention of engineers and technical experts throughout the country.
All visitors will greatly benefit from meetings with recognized foreign companies that are well -established innovators in the industry. Due to our partnership with ICM, we expect a good number of companies make an initial try on the Bulgarian market.
The sector has a growth potential, and the Bulgarian industry would benefit from involving new participants - potential partners. Shifting focus towards modernization, automation and electronification of crucial industrial sectors and the construction of new facilities would need and would also benefit from the organization of specialized exhibitions, such as ours.
I take a good reason for my optimism from the fact that in parallel with our specialized exhibitions, we plan to hold a national discussion "Bulgarian Industry - the backbone of Bulgarian economy", highlighting machine-building. There will be debates on issues related to the technological and commodity capacities of Bulgarian industry, the gained market niches, human resources, public- private partnerships, research, good practices, etc.

Exhibitions organized at the Inter Expo Center are usually attended by experts and representatives of senior management. What audience are you looking to recruit for the upcoming new shows?
I don’t think the coming shows would be an exception as regards the group of  visitors you mentioned. This is where we can talk about the large scale of the initiative - from senior executives to specialized experts. The show will introduce recognized manufacturers , suppliers and distributors of new products and services from a number of countries, encouraging investments and innovation in open and competitive markets. We assume they would draw the adequate attention of people with extensive professional interests - from experts in  the field of food industry, textiles, pharmaceuticals, furniture industry or other sectors of industrial development, to professionals working on the development and implementation  of high tech in specific industries.

In this year Inter Expo Center marks 10 years anniversary since its establishment. Are you satisfied with the achieved results and which ones make you the most proud of?
Ten years ago , when the metropolitan Exhibition Complex opened to the public, we launched two exhibition halls and a few shows. We managed, by way of efficient teamwork, to expand the exhibition program as quickly as possible, so that we covered most of the economic sectors with  specialized shows. The workload was intensive and took effect - we gradually expanded the Centre and currently we have 6 exhibition halls, as well as a number of international events held at the Congress Centre. This is how our initial concept for 4 halls was further developed, we followed the demand of business and came up to their needs with our investment plans.