Industry 4.0 and digitisation in focus at this week’s international fair in Brno, a major event for Central European business

Industry 4.0 and the digitisation of production are the central themes of this year's International Engineering Fair in Brno, a premier exhibition of its kind in Central Europe. Over a thousand businesses from more than 30 countries are showcasing their latest achievements in technology and engineering in what is seen as an important networking event for Czech industry.

The International Engineering Fair has been an annual event since the 1950s and remains an important opportunity for the exchange of engineering know-how as well as forming contacts useful for professionals and government officials, says Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Martina Tauberová.

“The International Engineering Fair in Brno is not just important for the Czech Republic. It is a regional fair where foreign delegations and businesses from the whole region meet. We always have a significant number of German, Austrian, Slovak and Polish companies that take part. Indeed, businesses from the wider post-Soviet region come here to show their latest innovations.”

It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that the Czech ministries of industry, defence, transport and foreign affairs are all partaking in this year's exhibition together with associated government agencies for the support of Czech business and exports.

Photo: Václav Šálek,  ČTK

Part of the exhibition is a special “national pavilion” which includes exhibits centered around the use of 3D and VR technology in industry. For example in the training of personnel, or the enabling of remote servicing that makes it possible for companies to save substantial costs.

Another area that will be explored is the use of digitisation in the development of so-called Smart Cities, a term used for the harnessing of data to improve day-to-day urban life, for example through the use of 5G networks.

This year’s fair is seen as a particularly important return to normal after the coronavirus pandemic, which not only prevented the annual fair from happening last year, but is also seen as the main cause for last year’s 14 percent year-on-year fall in machine manufacturing exports, a segment of the Czech economy which accounts for over a half of total domestic exports.

With the pandemic still present and making a worrying comeback in the Czech Republic in recent weeks, this year’s exhibition is smaller. But Ms Tauberová stressed the importance of personal meetings for successful business relations.

“I think that it became clear during the pandemic that while we can resort to virtual contact in the short term, especially when it comes to the initial reaching out, physical contact is vital for actually enabling real business cooperation, especially when it actually comes to exchanging products or services.

Photo: Václav Šálek,  ČTK

“This year will see fewer foreign delegations taking part in the event. However, several of these delegations will be present nonetheless. For example, our ministry will be welcoming a delegation from Indonesia, we will organise a business forum with them and hold business talks.”

The fair also includes a special seminar focusing on the opportunities for Czech industry in Latin America as well as an event focused on work related migration.
While around four fifths of the attendees are made up of business professionals, the fair is also open to the wider public. Visitors will be able to take part in discussions with key players in the upcoming Industry 4,0 transformation and get a concrete idea about what the digital transformation of the factory space entails.

The International Engineering Fair runs from this Monday to Friday in the Brno Exhibition Centre.