OT World International Congress Insights
October 22th – 2020
In this episode of the TechMed 3D Podcast, we got the chance to speak with Mandy Port, who is a project manager at Leipzig Trade Fair, which is the host of OT World International Congress and Tradeshow, to get exclusive insights into this year’s virtual event.
Also, Yahya Baby (TechMed 3D EMEA Sales Director) gives us his impressions of TechMed 3D’s participation in the OT World 2020
Here is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Kate Stern: I’m here with Mandy Port, a project manager at Leipzig Trade Fair, which is the host of OT World International Congress and Tradeshow. Mandy is speaking to us from Leipzig, Germany. How are you, Mandy?
Mandy Port: I’m good thanks, thank you, Kate. How are you?
Kate Stern: I’m good thanks as well. So I really want to know, first of all, what is OT World?
Mandy Port: Okay, I will try to explain, Kate. OT World is the world’s largest and most important industry get-together for all people involved in the field of modern medical aid and equipment. Its mission is bringing together experts from all over the world, and offering an innovation and dialogue platform for professional exchange. What is actually very interesting is that the event was started in the early 1970s as a small conference meeting of the German Association of Orthopaedic Technology, which is still the conceptional partner of OT World today.
With the start of the cooperation with Leipzig Trade Fair in 2000, OT World has grown steadily and has developed into the leading event in the P&O industry that now takes place every two years in the beautiful city of Leipzig, Germany.
I’d also like to give you some numbers. In 2008, we attracted more than 570 international exhibitors, and 21,000 visitors from more than 90 countries, which was really a lot and which was the highest figure that OT World has ever reached in history. In fact, more than 60% of the companies that attended OT World presented brand new product developments and innovations. This is also what is very special for OT World. Everyone who wants to see and learn about innovations comes to join us at Leipzig, and it’s like a preview of the future. Besides the innovations, visitors and exhibitors of OT World find a unique combination of international trade show and scientific world congress that offers the opportunity to exchange with experts from the industry and learn first-hand from their experiences. In 2018, we had for example over 300 congress speakers from over 30 countries, who have shared their stories.
Personally, what I really like the most about OT World, Kate, is that it’s really more like a meeting of a big and growing international family. In fact, we have had a lot of exhibitors, visitors, and also congress speakers, who join each edition of OT World since the beginning of the event. As you can imagine, this is the greatest feedback for us and we are very proud of that.
Kate Stern: That’s awesome! Having 21,000 guests must be a lot to manage.
Mandy Port: It is a lot to manage, it’s always a challenge, but we are very excited about each edition.
Kate Stern: So who can we expect to see at OT World?
Mandy Port: To answer this question, we need to look at two sides. On the one hand, we have the providers of medical aid and equipment, including manufacturers and dealers who are our exhibitors, and on the other hand, we have also the users who use this equipment to help patients in need, who are our visitors. So at OT World, you can, for example, meet P&O manufacturers, but also orthopedic shoemakers, people working in compression therapy, technical rehabilitation, and let’s not forget, educating schools and P&O associations that are very important for the industry.
What, to me, is the most exciting about OT World is the mixture of different companies that are meeting with us. Not only is OT World the most important event for global industry players, but it’s also very attractive for young and innovative companies. We have already seen a lot of startup companies in the past, for which OT World has been an important milestone on their road to success, and we are really happy about this fact too.
At OT World, exhibitors are meeting with professional visitors, including orthopedic technicians, orthopedic footwear professionals, medical suppliers, doctors, physical therapists, and also among them a lot of young students, who use OT World for further education. What is always at the center of OT World is the optimal treatment of patients and need. I remember there was a participant in the past who said something that was really moving to me. She said “Everything that moves people to help people in need is gathered here at OT World. It’s a very passionate place to be.” I think this gets to the point very well [about] the spirit of OT World.
Kate Stern: That’s sweet, “Everything that helps people is gathered here.”
Mandy Port: Yeah it is.
Kate Stern: What are some of the most interesting innovations you’ve seen that have been presented at OT World?
Mandy Port: I think the whole area of 3D printing is pretty amazing. When you look at these technologies, you would not believe that, thinking ten years back, that we would [have made] such big steps. That we can design really individual[ized] products for the patients, that’s really interesting and amazing.
Kate Stern: Mm. So what can we expect from this year’s event?
Mandy Port: Well, this year has been very challenging for all of us.
Kate Stern: Of course.
Mandy Port: The global pandemic challenged the whole industry, and as you can imagine, us as an event organizer. Despite, or maybe even because, of the increase in security these days, it was very important to us, and also the German Association of Orthopaedic Technology, to still offer a platform for international exchange, and to fulfill the mission of OT World. We were asked that also a lot by the industry. We wanted to meet and we wanted to exchange it, so it was very important to find a solution.
With regards to the increase in figures of covid-19, and also the travel restrictions, it made it really hard to do an international event in Leipzig. So for this reason we have decided that OT World 2020 will be held completely virtually this October.
Kate Stern: Right. So that’s within the next month?
Mandy Port: Yes, it’s actually starting in two weeks, from the 27th to 29th of October
Kate Stern: Oh, exciting!
Mandy Port: Yes, we are in the hot phase right now, in terms of the preparation. And yeah, this means really for the first time in OT World history, we will host a virtual event, which is really exciting.
Kate Stern: That is.
Mandy Port: And therefore we have changed the name, also, to OT World Connect, which describes the strong attachment of all participants, even if we cannot meet all in person.
Kate Stern: Mhm. And I guess even more people will be able to join since it’s all online.
Mandy Port: Yes, exactly! This is one of the main advantages that I see for the virtual offer. There are no travel costs, cheaper prices, so it really enables everyone to participate in all parts all over the world. And, in addition to that we have also some offers in the event that are free of charge, only by registration, and available up to 90 days after the main event days. So this means we have actually extended the event period—because no one wants to stay six hours in front of the computer, it gets pretty tiring. So we wanted to give our attendees some more flexibility and extend the period for our offer.
Kate Stern: That makes sense. And will there be opportunities for networking online?
Mandy Port: Yes, there will be a lot of opportunities also for networking, because this makes the character of the event. It’s very important to OT World. I’d like to explain a little bit the key elements of the virtual format.
Kate Stern: Sure.
Mandy Port: As in the past, we will have a scientific world congress that will be streamed live, and we will have more than 250 speakers from all over the world, so it will be also really international. This will enable attendees to interact also with the speaker via a live chat function. So this means if you have a question, as an attendee, you can send it directly to the speaker and you can get the answers that you need.
Congress tickets will also include access to the virtual what is called TAR conference, the conference for technically assisted rehabilitation, that will be held together with OT World for the first time, so it’s also included in the ticket. And for all the attendees who cannot join on the event days, there will be an additional offer to view all sessions in a recorded format up to 19 days after.
Kate Stern: Cool, so it’s like you can get two conferences in one.
Mandy Port: Yes, you can get two conferences in one, and you can access it from home, very flexible, actually, [available] 24 hours, so it’s really flexible for all attendees. So this is basically for the congress. Another big challenge was the international trade show, as you can imagine.
Kate Stern: M-hm.
Mandy Port: Here we have created a new and free-of-charge opportunity for virtual attendees to join our what we call OT World innovation showrooms. This is a new developed platform with over 50 companies from over 14 countries that will present their innovation and products. TechMed 3D has also decided to participate for the first time at OT World, we are very happy about this and [glad to] welcome TechMed to our OT World community.
Kate Stern: That’s good!
Mandy Port: Other participants will also include key players like Ottobock, Bauerfind, Ortho Europe, Medi, Streifeneder, and many many more.
Some of these companies offer interaction via live chat or videos, so you can meet the expert directly and ask your questions in a video conference or through a live chat. This was also very important for us to offer in this virtual event.
Kate Stern: So this is really the place to go to hear about what’s happening in the OT industry.
Mandy Port: It is. It is really the place to go for exchange and for getting to know what’s new in the P&O industry, what are future developments, and it’s going to be a really exciting program. We will also have over 45 workshops from our attending companies that will be streamed live from the company headquarters, which is quite interesting. Attendees can also interact with the product experts and send their questions.
TechMed [for example] will host a workshop on 3D capturing and measuring technologies. I hope it will be a great opportunity also for you to get in contact with our attendees and inform people about your products.
Kate Stern: Great, thank you! So my final question for you, Mandy: What can we expect, in terms of digitalization, for the O&P industry in the future?
Mandy Port: Well, we have seen that digital processing and manufacturing have become more and more important within our industry in the last couple of years, and also for OT World. New exhibitors have joined our world with digital solutions such as additive manufacturing, 3D printing, or 3D scanning, where TechMed is an expert.
In addition, we need to really think in terms of digitalization as an event organizer. Not only because of the pandemic, actually: digital transformation means understanding each event as a test laboratory for innovation, which includes digital elements as well. Although we are convinced that, especially in our industry, face-to-face meetings will never be replaced (because they are very important for personal exchange), we are setting a new course, in this special year with OT World Connect, to bring the OT World family back together, in a unique and virtual way, and we are very excited about this.
Kate Stern: Awesome. Yeah, I completely agree, we can’t replace in-person meetings, but we just have to make do without them for the time being.
Mandy Port: Exactly, yeah. We have to be flexible.
Kate Stern: M-hm. Well, thank you so much, Mandy.
Mandy Port: You’re welcome, it was a pleasure talking to you.
Kate Stern: You too.
“Here we have created a new and free-of-charge opportunity for virtual attendees to join our what we call OT World innovation showrooms. This is a new developed platform with over 50 companies from over 14 countries that will present their innovation and products. “
Yahya Baby (TechMed 3D EMEA Sales Director) and his impressions of TechMed 3D’s participation in the OT World 2020
Kate Stern: I’m here with Yahya Baby, the sales director for Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa at TechMed 3D. Yahya is speaking to us today from Quebec City. Great to have you here. So, Yahya, will you be attending OT World this year?
Yahya Baby: Yes! For sure. OT World, for TechMed, is really important, it’s the biggest and most important trade show in the O&P industry.
Kate Stern: And it’s happening online.
Yahya Baby: Yeah, it’s happening online this year. It will be a different format, for sure, but for us, it’s a no-brainer: we’ll be there. Since we [were] there [(many times before)], but not in the virtual editions, it’s really important for us to showcase our solutions to the O&P industry.
Kate Stern: So what can we expect to see from TechMed this year?
Yahya Baby: This year, actually, it will be the year of TechMed in the show and in the industry, because, regarding digitalization, you can see now that the virtual show, and the virtual industry, it’s now. It’s really now. We used to say “the future is now,” and now it’s really the present, and TechMed is ready to provide the best solutions for the industry, in terms of digitalization, to optimize the operation, to provide easy, fast, cheap solutions for the industry.
Kate Stern: Mm. And who will be presenting this?
Yahya Baby: Actually myself, my colleague Katherine, my CEO Mike, and our COO Matt. It really depends on—for example, the workshop itself will be may be held by our CEO, but in terms of technical questions, it really depends on the subject. But all the team will be ready to provide a showcase of our development, our new products, our new features, to be sure that we are helping the industry.
Kate Stern: Right! Has TechMed presented at OT World before?
Yahya Baby: For sure. As I mentioned, it’s a really important event for us. It’s actually the biggest event in the O&P [industry]. We are talking about a lot of things happening at this show. In the past, for sure, face-to-face meetings gave us a lot of opportunities, and we are really confident that this virtual event will give us opportunities as well, and a platform to showcase our solutions.
“TechMed is ready to provide the best solutions for the industry, in terms of digitalization, to optimize the operation, to provide easy, fast, cheap solutions for the industry.”
Kate Stern: Right. What will be different about this year’s event, for TechMed?
Yahya Baby: Actually, at TechMed we invested a lot of money [into] equipment on our side to be ready, in terms of virtual booths and equipment, to present. This investment [is] for the show, but will be as well for other presentations over other shows. It’s really important to be part of this new way to do business in terms of virtual, not just to do it today, but to be ready for the future as well.
Kate Stern: That’s great to hear. It sounds like you guys are well-prepared.
Yahya Baby B: Actually, yes! The dry run, if I may say—we [have already done] a couple of trade shows, one in the US and one in Australia—for sure it’s different because normally we are in the same timezone, but for example my colleague for the APAC [(Asia-Pacific)] market, they did the show [at] night, to be in the same timezone as the Australian customers. OT World as well will be at night [for us]. We have [adapted], and we are ready because we are confident that we have a really good solution, and for that reason, we will adapt our tools, our marketing tools, our tradeshow tools, to present these solutions.
Kate Stern: Awesome! Well, we’ll have to make sure we’re there on October 28th for this presentation.
Yahya Baby: Actually, yes, for the workshop—but on the 27th, 28th, and 29th, we’ll be ready at the virtual booth if the customer wants to ask questions, want a demo, wants a particular presentation… if they need to see how we scan, how we convert the scan to a file, we will be more than happy to answer [any questions] and to present our solutions.
Kate Stern: Okay, good to know: your both are open all three days.
Yahya Baby: Yeah, actually, in the same [European daytime hours], but since the trade show will be 24 hours, my colleague in charge of the US [market], and my colleague in charge of the APAC market will also be ready to answer and present our solutions to the customers.
Kate Stern: Perfect! Well, thanks Yahya.
Yahya Baby: Thank you very much, Kate. And yeah, be ready, it will be a really really nice show.
Kate Stern: Awesome.