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IPEX 2002 -- Set to Spring Up

January 2002
BIRMINGHAM, UK—In times like these, it's hard to look beyond day-to-day events and challenges in running a business. But, American printers would be well advised to pause a moment and consider a spring trip to the U.K. for IPEX 2002: the global technology event for print, publishing and media.

The event, which only comes around once every four years, is scheduled to take place at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) from April 9-17, 2002.

In terms of scope and ancillary benefits, national trade shows can't provide the same experience of a major international event. Based on commitments made to date, IPEX 2002 is slated to span 15 exhibit halls that will house more than 1,500 exhibitors. The majority of these companies will come from outside the U.K., with more than 30 countries represented on the show floors. Attendance numbers are expected to be similar to 1998's draw, which tallied more than 90,000 visitors—33 percent of whom came from overseas.

If the economic predictions are right, then IPEX 2002 will hit the world stage just ahead of the expected mid-year turnaround in business. As a result, the exhibition will be a good place to check the current pulse of the industry and get a glimpse into its future. It also will afford an opportunity to mix in a little pleasure with business, which is even more important in stressful times. How often does one get a chance to write off a trip to England as a business expense?

To help spread the word, the organizers of IPEX 2002 recently conducted an Inward Mission for members of the printing industry's international trade press. The mission agenda included opportunities for leading exhibitors to outline their plans and expectations for the upcoming exhibition, and the industry more broadly.

The briefings were kicked off with presentations on two special features planned for IPEX—PrintCity, a workflow project spearheaded by MAN Roland and Agfa, and "Future Print Now" from Xerox.

PrintCity is described by its management as a strategic alliance of leading companies within the graphic arts industry. It originated as a cooperative effort by 69 companies to exhibit digital workflow solutions at DRUPA 2000. Since then it has evolved into a permanent organization with 40 members and is pursing ongoing workflow-related activities in the areas of market applications, production processes and education, says Rainer Kuhn, general manager.

Member companies are in the process of organizing themselves into "Activity Groups" that will pursue PrintCity's charter, but each will continue to operate as an independent business, Kuhn explains. These activity groups will cover three major market segments (publishing, packaging and commercial printing) and print processes (sheetfed, web and digital). Rounding out the current slate of eight groups are networks and knowledge management.


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