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drupa is the Global Nexus for Print Innovation

Exclusive Interview with Sabine Geldermann, Director of drupa, Portfolio Print Technologies

In an era where innovation is pivotal, drupa 2024 stands at the forefront, shaping the future of the print technologies sector. Amidst changing industry dynamics and evolving technological landscapes, Sabine Geldermann, Director of drupa, Portfolio Print Technologies, sheds light on how this premier event continues to serve as the global nexus for print innovation, sustainability, and digital transformation. With an emphasis on showcasing world premieres, fostering international collaboration, and addressing the megatrends of sustainability and digitisation, drupa 2024 is poised to redefine industry standards and expectations.

drupa 2024

  • With the observation that OEMs are no longer aligning product releases exclusively with drupa cycles, how is drupa 2024 adapting its approach to showcase innovations and maintain its relevance as a premier event in the print technologies sector?

drupa is still THE platform for innovation and will feature more world premieres and product launches in direct international comparison than anywhere else. The large amount of exhibitor press conferences during the show, as well as the numerous responses from our exhibitors confirm that visitors can once again expect a wide range of innovations. The pre-drupa Media Conference, where selected exhibitors provide a preview of drupa, is also better booked than ever. This is another indicator of how strongly the industry is relying on drupa. But of course we are always adapting to the needs of the industry and focussing on its challenges and trends. This is why innovation showcases and thought leadership forums are an integral part of the drupa programme alongside the exhibitors’ presentations at their stands. By highlighting cutting-edge technologies and emerging market trends, drupa will provide a comprehensive overview of the future direction of the print industry.  This year, the focus will therefore be on the megatrends of sustainability and digitisation.

Through close collaboration and numerous partnerships within the global industry, drupa is creating a dynamic ecosystem for innovation and growth. By constantly evolving its concept in line with the changing needs of the print technology sector, drupa 2024 will emphasise its relevance as the industry’s leading global event.

  • The anticipated visitor numbers for drupa 2024 reflect a significant change from past events, with expectations set at around 200,000 attendees. What strategies are being implemented to attract a diverse international audience, especially from regions like Middle East, India, and the Americas, despite the challenges such as the geopolitical situation affecting travel?

There is still a great need, now more than ever given the disruptive times we live in, to come to drupa to make sure you maintain or increase your competitive advantage. You need to be there to understand how the industry is developing and evolving. drupa works with industry associations and partners in target regions to promote the event and encourage attendance. This includes, for example, marketing campaigns, promotional events and roadshows. Our aim is to successfully activate existing and new visitor potential, especially in emerging markets such as South East Asia / Asia Pacific, Latin America, MEA, the US and certainly Europe. Even outreach to Australia and New Zealand via various marketing initiatives, cooperations, supported by our local reps.

The drupa World Tour took us to a total of 27 countries, including India, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, the UAE, China, the Philippines and many more. A very special highlight of our drupa World Tour were the “Print Promotion Industry Summits” in Asia and Latin America: With the motto “Enabling the Digital and Sustainable Transformation”, Messe Düsseldorf, the Printing and Paper Technology Association of the German industrial organisation VDMA and some of the world’s leading drupa exhibitors provided fascinating insights into the industry and initiated a valuable exchange of knowledge. The interest was huge, with an average of 200 industry professionals attending each event in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. During the tour I spoke to so many industry experts and partners and the anticipation for drupa was very noticeable. We are therefore confident that we successfully encouraged and inspired our audiences during our drupa world tour to come to Düsseldorf in May and June to experience and celebrate drupa with us. 

drupa 2024

  • Given the notable increase in Chinese exhibitors, occupying a significant portion of the exhibition space, how is drupa 2024 planning to balance the representation of global print technology innovators, ensuring a wide spectrum of technologies and trends are displayed?

The print industry in China has a long tradition and has a very impressive development. This has also been demonstrated at trade shows who are part of the drupa portfolio such as All in Print in China. Furthermore, our trade fairs in Asia have all exceeded expectations and this dynamic is reflected as well at drupa.  China is without doubt a strong and evolving market and eager to expand. Given this fact, European suppliers should highlight even more intensively their outstanding core and innovative competencies.

As in the past, drupa 2024 is strategically designed to ensure a balanced representation of all global print technology innovators. By organizing the exhibition space thematically rather than strictly by exhibitor origin, we aim to showcase a diverse array of print technologies and trends in an accessible and cohesive manner. Furthermore, drupa is hosting specialized forums, workshops, and panel discussions featuring industry experts from around the world to highlight global innovations and best practices. Through these initiatives, drupa 2024 strives to maintain a balanced representation of print technology innovators while providing attendees with comprehensive insights into the latest trends and developments shaping the industry. 

  • The 2024 edition of drupa is expected to be covered more intensively by media than any previous edition, in more languages, and with a broad partnership network. Can you discuss the importance of media coverage for drupa, and how it impacts the visibility and success of exhibitors as well as the overall event?

Media coverage plays a crucial role in increasing the visibility and success of exhibitors by boosting their presence and showcasing their innovations to a global audience. Through extensive media coverage in multiple languages and partnerships with various networks, drupa is able to reach a wider audience of industry professionals, decision makers, investors and enthusiasts worldwide. This increased visibility not only increases the likelihood of attracting potential customers and partners for exhibitors, but also promotes brand recognition and credibility within the print technology sector. In addition, media coverage helps create buzz and excitement around the event, driving attendance and participation from key stakeholders. By showcasing exhibitors’ products, technologies and achievements through various media channels, drupa can effectively position itself as the premier platform for showcasing the latest trends, innovations and advancements in the print industry. Ultimately, robust media coverage contributes to the overall success of drupa by raising its profile, fostering international cooperation and facilitating meaningful interactions and business opportunities for exhibitors and visitors alike.

  • With a shift in the visitor profile since 2016 and a dynamic industry landscape, how is drupa 2024 evolving its content and program to address the changing needs and interests of attendees, from new technological showcases to educational sessions?

What makes drupa so unique is not only the high-calibre international exhibitors, but also the extensive supporting programme. Thus, drupa is not only a place for business and networking, but also for knowledge transfer. Five Special Forums will turn the trade fair into a hot spot for new technologies, applications and ideas. The drupa cube, drupa next age (dna) as well as touchpoint packaging, textile and sustainability all pick up on global mega trends, future technologies with growth potential and best practices covering a comprehensive spectrum of themes. Touchpoint sustainability is celebrating its premiere at drupa, enabling us to meet the ever-growing demand for sustainable print solutions. This forum will address the role of the printing and paper industry in a sustainable transformation and will provide a unique overview of the current state of the industry and its medium- and long-term developments. In addition to these special forums, we are also offering our visitors special guided tours on nine specific topics, which can be booked in addition to the entrance ticket. During the two-hour tours, exhibitors will showcase innovative products and business solutions.

  • The partnership with WhatTheyThink for producing the Daily Drupa and video content represents a significant effort to engage both attendees and those unable to attend. How do you envision this approach enhancing the drupa experience and fostering a global conversation about print technologies?

We are very happy to have found such a competent and experienced partner in WhatTheyThink. It is important to us that our product, the “drupa daily”, becomes a special print product that visitors receive on site in Düsseldorf. On the other hand, it is just as important to us that the content is distributed cross-media across all channels worldwide. So that even those who can’t make it to Düsseldorf in person this time can experience the drupa feeling. There will be exciting interviews with the most important people in the industry, we will track down the hottest trends at the trade fair and provide the most important information on a daily basis. It’s a huge project and a big task – but we’re all looking forward to finally getting started soon.

  • Reflecting on the challenges and transformations within the print industry over the past eight years, what are some of the key trends or innovations that you believe will define the future of print technology, as may be highlighted at drupa 2024?

Automation of conventional processes, digital printing, especially inkjet technology, and cardboard packaging will be the focus at drupa 2024, in line with the principles of Industry 4.0. A common goal will be moving toward “Sustainable Printing.” Attendees will experience a much stronger shift in terms of packaging production regarding corrugated, folding carton, labels and flexible packaging, given the potential of inkjet applications. Despite a decrease in print volumes, we observe an increase in value added printing and embellishment and decoration. This implies that the digitalization of processes in cardboard packaging contributes to efficiency and quality which brand owners require. Regulations and government restrictions with regards to sustainable print and packaging production will play a major role as well and even though this might vary from country to country and by continent, it will heavily impact our daily life and business.

The fact that the show will open its doors after eight years increases the anticipation and excitement of the global community for drupa 2024. The industry expects groundbreaking technologies and product premieres and given this fact, drupa will be the most significant trade fair of the year for the global print and packaging industry. For eleven days, it shapes the industry by unveiling emerging trends and innovations – even those that are set to be released in the coming years only.

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