Heidelberg cancels drupa 2021 participation

Heidelberg Innovation Week from 19 to 23 October 2020

Heidelberg Print Media Center Packaging at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site. Photo Heidelberg

Heidelberg has sent a press release this morning (8 July 2020), which says that its participation in next year’s drupa exhibition is “canceled due to the unforeseeable effects of Covid-19.” The company plans to focus on new virtual trade fair concepts and regional events. The company is planning an ‘Innovation Week’ from 19 to 23 October 2020, to be live-streamed from its Wieslock-Walldorf demonstration center next to its main factory near Heidelberg, Germany.

As far as we know, Heidelberg is the third company to opt-out of the postponed drupa 2021 event scheduled to take place from 20 to 30 April 2021. Bobst and Xerox have already announced that they will not be taking part, and we know of some other companies that are in a wait and watch mode.

Heidelberg’s press release says that he trend towards ever shorter innovation cycles in the print media industry has accelerated very quickly. Customers thus need to be informed about the latest trends quickly, flexibly and on an ongoing basis. 

The Innovation Week will be an event that combines live streaming and face to face from 19 to 23 October 2020 with a catchline – ‘Unfold your potential.’ Heidelberg plans to present packaging and commercial, including autonomous printing, and its end-to-end solutions, Smart Print Shop and Push-to-Stop that were to be shown at this year’s drupa. 

“We will be investing more in new, virtual trade fair concepts to ensure closer and more individual customer communications as well as in regional events in our growth markets. This means we will be able to consistently align ourselves with our customers’ expectations,” says Rainer Hundsdörfer, CEO of Heidelberg. “The Innovation Week will now enable us to communicate with our customers as soon as possible and to present our innovation offensive.”

Face-to-face dialogue will continue to be the focus at the Heidelberg’s Print Media Centers in Wiesloch-Walldorf, Atlanta, Shanghai, Sao Paulo and Tokyo. At the centers, Heidelberg offers all of its customers and other interested parties market-specific access to product and solution demonstrations, discussion with application specialists, and extensive training courses.


The company observes that Covid-19 has accelerated the move towards digital and local events. “Although there is no way of knowing what the impact of corona will be next year, Heidelberg has to make a decision now. So the company has decided to not participate in international trade fairs next year and will thus not be taking part in drupa. In 2021, drupa will be a very different event – global travel restrictions and hygiene regulations mean significantly fewer visitors and constraints on communication. Traditional international trade fairs with busy booths and halls will very probably be difficult to implement and will likely lose their status as global meet-up events for customers and manufacturers. As a longtime partner to drupa, Heidelberg will be happy to continue to offer its experience when it comes to bringing future trade fair concepts into line with new digital possibilities and customer requirements.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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