by Loren Bonner
, DOTmed News Online Editor
DOTmed News sat down with Joachim Schafer, the managing director of Messe Dusseldorf, on the second day of Medica. Messe Dusseldorf organizes and hosts Medica and they have been integral in shaping the future of what they have claimed is the word's largest medical trade fair. Here's an edited version of the conversation.
What has excited you most about the show this year?
I have a master's degree in computer science from Georgia Tech. I find that there is more permeation of IT at the show. It is, in my opinion, becoming more of an IT show. And if you're in imaging, heavy IT aspirations go hand-and-hand with the increase in image process capacity. So that's one topic that fascinates me. The other one is the technology of the component and part side. This is the market before the final product. There you have the sensors and components and specialty materials that are appropriate for harsh environments or sterilization. And then you go into the micro level of these devices, like the nanotechnology field, that is also fascinating. And finally you have the personalization of the technology.
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I noticed an abundance of ultrasound equipment from vendors on the show floor. Is that special this year?
No, it's not particular to this year. Some of the leaders come with maybe more advanced equipment and others come behind and I believe there is a tendency at the moment — at least expressed by GE, Philips, and Siemens — that they have to come up with "ruggedized' technology. That's my word for it. Rugged technology that will allow people to do good medicine in difficult settings. In my observation it's: "Yes, unearth the promise of technology advancement, but at the same time, have a branch of products that are sensible and rugged enough to be utilized in settings that don't have the advances, per se, of the Western world." All of a sudden you have ultrasound as a fairly straightforward, basic technology, where the basic differentiation becomes price.
How has it become less of a German show through the years?
If we go back to 2000, in one sense Medica grew further, and in one sense it has not been from German manufacturers. A number of German companies that are here have kept steady if not shrunk. Growth has come, then, primarily from non-German players. International companies are competing for these spots in the technology landscape across the world. These companies come from some 65 nations and they are all vying for a spot in the market, and many of the foreign non-German companies [here] are not even interested in tackling the German market. They come here to Germany to find [business] with people in other countries.
Why did you decide to add more talks and special programs in English this year?
I think that's the way to go. From the U.S. standpoint, education and knowledge is as essential as product display. We still have a lot of products here but the knowledge sharing and information exchange should still take place and I think we are well advised to grow it outside the confines of the exhibition halls and into the conference centers.