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ISE 2022: Mike Blackman on the event’s triumphant return & a bright future

Integrated Systems Events managing director Mike Blackman spoke to Installation editor Rob Lane for the ISE Daily ahead of last week's long awaited show, reflecting on the build-up and looking ahead to 2023

ISE managing director Mike Blackman had more reason than most to be relieved that ISE 2022 was finally set to go ahead last week – for the first time (in its full form) since 2020. He had worked incredibly hard over the past two years to ensure that ISE 2022 was an event to be proud of.

Myself and the team, we persevered [through Covid],” he explained to Installation editor Rob Lane for the ISE Daily, a few hours before the event opened. “I was travelling. I was backwards and forwards here, making meetings, getting ready to actually have a show. And I’m glad now we’re ready to go.

“Despite the fact that the show is smaller, with the number of exhibitors, when you look at it you think this is a ‘normal’ ISE. We’re missing about 300 Chinese customers, and missing a few Americans who have the problem with InfoComm being so close to ISE this year, as a result of our rescheduling. So those are challenges, but I do not regret moving to this date because it was the right decision. We see that in the results; we see that in the commitment from the exhibitors, and what they’re doing – so it was the right move.”

Despite being totally committed to ISE’s new home, Blackman was keen to point out that ISE had been set to grow yet again had Covid not happened, and had the event not been moved to Barcelona.

We would have been bigger even at the RAI,’ he said. “We have 48,000 square metres on the floor here [for 2022], but we had actually signed contracts at the end of the 2020 show for 67,000 net square metres from 900 companies – and we still had 300 or 400 companies to deal with, that we hadn’t spoken to yet, so probably another 10,000 square metres. And, you know, we hope we can get back to that very soon, here at the Gran Vía.”

The Barcelona venue certainly has the capacity, with further halls – as yet unused – along with a new hall, outside the existing venue and connected via a bridge, set to be built in four years time, which will add another 40,000 square metre capacity.

“We have the places to extend for the future,’ said Blackman. “We have hall one which is here, right at the front, and we have hall eight at the back. So you know, already, we have three more halls – because hall eight has two levels that we’re going to extend to. And this space across the street here, this is all going to be demolished, and in four years time, there’ll be a new hall, 40,000 square metres over there, with a bridge connecting from here as well.”

This year’s event certainly didn’t disappoint, with a total 43,691 unique attendees from 151 countries (making a total of 90,372 visits to the show floor) visiting 834 exhibitors and experiencing the first full ISE in the warm Catalan sunshine. Look out for further thoughts from Mike Blackman and extensive reports from the show floor right here.

ISE 2023 will take place in Barcelona on 31 January – 3 February 2023.