SMM Goes Digital: World's Largest Shipbuilding, Ship Tech Expo Scuttles Plans for Hybrid Event

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

November 4, 2020

Citing a spike in second-wave COVID-19 infection numbers SMM, where the world meets in Hamburg every two years for the latest updates on shipbuilding and ship machinery technology, has opted to take the event planned for February 2021 digital.

SMM 2020 was originally scheduled to be held live in September 2020, initially postponed to early 2021 as a hybrid live and digital event. But in the face of a rampant second wave of COVID-19 infections and the decision by several governments to enact a new round of lockdowns Hamburg Messe und Congress decided to instead organizing a purely digital event for the maritime community: SMM DIGITAL – The Maritime Business Hub, as a virtual meeting place, where xhibitors and customers from around the world will be able to discuss today's and tomorrow's maritime challenges online, and follow conferences featuring top-ranking experts.

In December 2020, WindEnergy Hamburg will be the first digital trade fair launched by Hamburg Messe und Congress. Its example will be followed by SMM in February 2021: “After close consultations with the exhibition committee and government institutions, we have decided to host SMM 2021 as a purely digital event. The progress of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting restrictions have rendered it impossible to come up with a reliable plan for a physical trade fair," said Bernd Aufderheide, President and CEO of Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH. "By making this timely decision in favor of a digital SMM, we provide our exhibitors and visitors with a sound basis for planning while giving them an idea how they will be able to network successfully in February 2021 despite the pandemic. What is clear right now is that the experiences we are gathering as an event organizer today will have a positive effect on future physical events. By leveraging various digital services we will be able to further increase the international scope of our trade fairs and provide our customers with substantial added value."


  • A New Digital Hub

The SMM team is working on creating formats that will bring together the maritime community digitally from February  2-5, 2021, the core component a new Maritime Business Hub which will be designed to allow exhibitors to present themselves online and interact with potential customers while avoiding personal contact.

"Of course, after all those months of social distancing we were all looking forward to a physical or hybrid SMM. However, the current development of the pandemic leaves a digital SMM as the only option. I am therefore excited that over the past months we have been able to combine our forces and develop a digital version of SMM 2021 for the maritime community,” said Claus Ulrich Selbach, Business Unit Director – Maritime and Technology Fairs & Exhibitions at Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH.


“The pandemic has demonstrated that so much can be achieved through digital means and that the maritime industry is more than capable of adapting to new ways of working," said Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL – Maritime. "During these very challenging times, more than ever before safety must be at the forefront of every decision we make. I am therefore pleased that SMM has shown the foresight and sound judgment to move next year’s SMM onto a digital platform.”


  • Living the motto

“Driving The Maritime Transition”: The motto of SMM 2021 is not only reflected by digital exhibitor presentations and the content of the expert conferences featuring top-ranking panellists, such as the Maritime Future Summit. Participation itself has transformed digitally, as well: From 2 until 5 February 2021, visitors can attend SMM Digital simply with the click of a mouse button. Furthermore, all items on the agenda recorded as video streams will be available for viewing online after the end of SMM 2021.


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