Issue: Jul 2006


SPI Innovations and Changing Profile of Participants Mark ‘Turning Point in NPE History’



by James Hilton

The NPE 2006 international plastics exposition came to a close after a dynamic week of surging crowds and bustling exhibits, it was announced by The Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. (SPI), sponsor of the show.

NPE 2006 attracted a total of 64,451 registrations and set new records for international participation, While this total registration figure was 2% greater than at NPE 2003, the number of visitor registrations (as distinct from exhibitor registrations) was a full 9% greater than three years ago. Greater still was the increase in international registrations: After subtracting exhibitor registrations, the total of international visitor registrations was 33% larger than in 2003 and accounted for 24% of all visitor registrations for NPE 2006.

A total of 1,850 companies exhibited at NPE 2006, taking 949,500 sq.ft. (88,210 sq.m.) of net exhibit space. The number of exhibitors was 4% fewer than in 2003, reflecting industry consolidation, according to Walt Bishop, SPI vice president of trade shows. International exhibitors (companies coming directly from outside the U.S., as distinct from U.S. subsidiaries) accounted for 33% of the total, compared with 30% in 2003 and 24.5% in 2000.

“While the unprecedented participation by international exhibitors and visitors certainly contributed to the high level of excitement at NPE 2006, it was only one of the factors causing this show to mark a turning point in NPE history,” said Walt Bishop. “In preparing for NPE 2006, SPI developed innovative programs that would broaden the technological content of the show, attract new kinds of participants, and increase the value of attending. We will further develop this strategy of tradeshow transformation as we begin to prepare for NPE 2009.”

Among the innovations implemented by SPI for NPE 2006, Bishop cited these

--NEW TYPES OF EXHBITOR. The TPE / Rubber, North American Moldmakers, and New Technology pavilions (all NPE “firsts”) attracted about 40 exhibitors that had never before participated in an NPE. At these pavilions (and elsewhere in the show), many first-time exhibitors focused on technologies that are just emerging or had previously played only a small role at NPE, such as nanocomposites, bioplastics, degradable plastics, thermoset rubber, and RFID. In addition, a redesigned and much-expanded international marketing program by SPI brought many first-time international exhibitors to the show, including nearly all exhibitors from China. In total, the number of companies at NPE 2006 making their NPE debut was 700, or 38% of the total, compared with only 18% for NPE 2003.

--FAR LARGER AND MORE DIVERSIFIED EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM. About 120 conference, seminar, workshop, and keynote presentations were available at NPE 2006, compared with only 41 in 2003. Two-thirds of these, making up the NPE Free Conference, were provided at no charge and were underwritten by The Dow Chemical Company. For the first time at an NPE, there were conferences dedicated exclusively to elastomers and moldmaking. Another first was a Spanish-language conference for visitors from Latin America.

--TECHNOLOGIES TO MAKE SHOW PARTICIPATION MORE PRODUCTIVE. “SPI is committed to developing Internet tools that enhance the value of NPE for visitors and exhibitors,” noted Bishop, “and the best way to start is to automate use of the wealth of data generated by exhibitors and visitors when they register.” Before NPE 2006, SPI introduced myNPE (TM), a networking system that matches the business interests of attendees and exhibitors and even enables them to interact well in advance of the show with the people they need to meet; and SmartBooth (TM), an automated lead-generation service that searches for myNPE registrants whose profiles best match a target profile provided by participating exhibitors. At the show itself, SPI introduced an extension of these technologies called NPE365 (TM), a search engine that matches industry suppliers with prospective customers long after NPE is over.

China Accounts for Largest Number of International Exhibitors

International participants played a greater role at NPE 2006 than at any previous NPE. Among international exhibitors, more came from mainland China and Hong Kong than from any other country: 127 in all, compared with only 27 at NPE 2003. Asian companies in general accounted for 45% of international exhibitors. After China, the leading countries in terms of number of exhibitors were Canada (118), Germany (62), and Taiwan (61). In all, 34 countries were represented at NPE 2006.

Many international exhibitors took space in multi-exhibitor “country” pavilions organized by associations in their home nations. At NPE 2006 there were 14 such pavilions, representing Austria, Canada, China (with four pavilions), Germany, India, Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Portugal, Spain, and Taiwan.

Visitors at NPE 2006 came from 126 countries. Of total international registration, Canada accounted for the largest share, followed by Mexico, then China. Many visitors came as part of delegations from specific countries. At NPE 2006 there were 26 delegations, from countries ranging from Bangladesh to Mexico and from Canada to Singapore.

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