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IFA 2020 will go ahead as a physical event in Berlin

It’s official: IFA will take place in Berlin over three days from 3 September to 5 September 2020, in a special edition format in line with imposed restrictions due to COVID-19.

The new format, developed in close collaboration with German public health authorities, will be an invitation-only event and no longer open to the public.

Authorities have advised that is safe to hold events with up to 5,000 participants. IFA 2020 will permit a maximum of 1,000 visitors per day to any event with social distancing, crowd control and other public hygiene measures in place.

Announcing details of the 2020 format, IFA Berlin executive director, Jens Heithecker said, “We know that business as usual is not possible, so we thought if it is possible for IFA to happen at all. We had only one priority – health and safety had to come first.”

He continued: “We understand that countries are pulling through COVID-19 at their own pace – come September, some countries may still have restrictions imposed and social distancing rules will be the norm. But our world needs new technologies to inform and entertain us, to make us more productive, and keep us safe and healthy. To access these technologies, our world depends on global trade. We cannot simply shut down the global economy and tell everyone to come back next year.

“Innovation has not stopped. After the event cancellations in the past five months, our industry urgently needs a platform that can showcase its innovation so it can recover and rebound. In September, retailers are getting ready for the year’s most important shopping season with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Single’s Day, Christmas and Boxing Day sales events. So brands and manufacturers need a grand global stage to present their new products and we believe IFA can be the venue for that.

“Berlin has been one of the capital cities in the world relatively unaffected by the coronavirus and in close coordination with public health authorities, together we have agreed on a safe and workable solution. We hope and expect that between now and September the public health situation will improve. We are basing all of our planning on the most stringent health and safety guidelines and we are certain that IFA can take place in real life as a physical event here in Berlin based on a new concept tailored to the current situation. It will be IFA but not as we know it.

“We spoke to many of our partners and the message was loud and clear – they are in urgent need to repair and restructure their supply chains and that’s why our industry must have a sourcing show and why consumers need events like IFA Global Markets to go ahead.

“It will not be a normal IFA, but it meets the needs of media, brands, manufacturers and retailers. It is the best and most efficient way to run it during COVID-19. We know that this concept for IFA in 2020 presents significant logistical challenges but we know that we can make it happen safely, efficiently and with impact.

“Virtual events are okay but in terms of publicity, it can only get brands so far. Only by bringing everything together in one place at one time can brands and journalists create the buzz and excitement that new technology needs and that’s what we can deliver with our concept for IFA 2020.”

However, Heithecker did confirm that in addition to the physical fair in Berlin, IFA will offer virtual opportunities for more people to be part of the experience.

The IFA grounds in 2019 

Four core functions remain

In the new format, IFA will remain focused on its four global core functions as an innovation showcase for brands, a platform for cutting-edge technologies, a sourcing event for OEMs and ODMs and a marketplace where retailers and brands come together.

The IFA Global Press Conference that was scheduled to be held in April this year in Cyprus has been moved to coincide with the IFA 2020 special edition in September in Berlin with around 800 journalists coming together from over 50 countries worldwide.

The keynotes and press conferences are usually held at various booths but this year, there will be just two or three keynote stages to reduce on-site production staff and ensure hygiene standards are observed on stage and in the seating area. Media representatives will then be invited to organise face-to-face interviews with brand spokespeople.

IFA will also curate Business, Retail and Meeting Lounges to give brands and manufacturers the opportunity to meet retailers in a safe and efficient manner.

The opening keynote for 2020 will be delivered by Qualcomm president, Cristiano Amon, who will address the company’s 5G developments, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other key technologies that will drive the future of the internet.

For 2020 only, IFA will combine its IFA Next and Shift Mobility platforms for an exclusive live event for the tech community, bringing together start-ups and companies in the connected mobility sector.

IFA Global Markets will be this year’s first dedicated sourcing show in the world for OEMs and ODMs, designed to repair and restructure supply chains hit by the pandemic disruption.

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