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Making all the right moves

ISE managing director Mike Blackman is confident of filling the Fira Barcelona to capacity

Mike Blackman, managing director of Integrated Systems Events, has more reason than most to be relieved that the ISE show is finally going ahead for the first time since 2020. He’s worked incredibly hard over the past two years to ensure that ISE 2022 is an event to be proud of.

The team and I persevered [through Covid],” he explained. “I was travelling back and forth [to Barcelona], making meetings, getting ready to actually have a show. And I’m so glad now we’re ready to go.

“Despite the fact that the show is smaller this year, with the reduced number of exhibitors, it actually feels like a ‘normal’ ISE here in its new home,” he continued. We’re missing about 300 Chinese customers and missing a few Americans due to InfoComm being so close to ISE this year. So those are challenges, but I don’t regret moving to this date; 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.”

However, despite being totally committed to ISE’s new home, Blackman is keen to point out that ISE was set to grow yet again had Covid not happened.

We would even have been bigger,” he said. “We have 48,000sqm on the floor here [for 2022], but we had signed contracts at the end of the 2020 show for 67,000sqm from 900 companies. We still had around 400 companies that we hadn’t yet spoken to, so probably [we would need] another 10,000sqm. We hope we can get back to that very soon, here at the Gran Vía.”

The venue certainly has the capacity. 

“We have Hall One right at the front, and we have Hall 8 at the back [both are not being used this week],” said Blackman. So already, we have three more halls, as Hall 8 has two levels that we’ll extend into. There is space across the street that is going to be completely demolished, and in four years’ time, there’ll be a new 40,000sqm hall over there, with a bridge connecting us. We have space to extend for the future.”