Captains at the SMM

More interactive, innovative and informative

8 min

30th SMM – the leading international maritime trade fair in its anniversary year

Purely digital and free of charge for all participants: The 29th edition of SMM started in February 2021 with a six-month delay as a conference-only event. For four days, SMM DIGITAL’s two online streams with 60 hours of programming and more than 160 speakers drew maritime industry viewers to their screens. The panel discussions, sessions and interviews focused on digitalisation and environmental protection as general topics. “It was great that the programme of SMM DIGITAL was met with such a positive response. We received plenty of favourable comments on all channels. Plus, we gained some valuable experience in the digital space which we were able to apply to subsequent events as well,” said Claus Ulrich Selbach, Business Unit Director – Maritime and Technology Fairs & Exhibitions at Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH.

Exhibit of a ship engine from the MAN company
A worker screws on a ship's propeller
Portrait of Mr. Selbach
Claus Ulrich Selbach

Now he cannot wait to welcome the maritime world to the anniversary edition of SMM from 6 to 9 September 2022. It will be the fifth SMM under his organisational leadership since 2014, and the 30th in all. “The SMM team and our customers are impatiently waiting for a reunion and are very much looking forward to the face-to-face encounters with old friends and new contacts,” said Selbach, who has become an enthusiastic fan of the maritime industry. He notes with satisfaction that despite the pandemic and the uncertain global political situation all eleven exhibition halls are nearly fully booked and the industry’s leading minds and enterprises have all committed to participating, including Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization IMO. “At the last live SMM, roughly 2,200 exhibiting companies from nearly 70 countries were present. The high visitor numbers in recent years – last time we counted 50,000 – highlight the broad range of industry segments represented at SMM and the internationality of this trade fair. We reflect the entire breadth and depth of the value chain, from suppliers to shipyards to ship operators. Visiting SMM means saving weeks of travelling around the world. The fair is also a great place to make new business contacts by chance, which often evolve to become long-term business partnerships. What is more, many representatives of government agencies, navies, the media, science and maritime organisations attend SMM to share views and ideas and to network. When Asians want to do business with Europeans and Americans, they do so at SMM in Hamburg. This is extremely positive and is a great compliment to the City of Hamburg – SMM is an incredibly strong brand ambassador for Hamburg and Germany,” Selbach pointed out.

Of course, the anniversary edition of the leading international maritime trade fair, which will be entitled “Driving the Maritime Transition”, will come with a number of innovative features and numerous highlights. Themed routes and a clear product category system in the halls will make it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for. For the first time, there will be dedicated areas for start-ups, including pitches and parties. To promote knowledge transfer and networking, this fair will for the first time provide three open stages where current topics will be discussed. There will be no extra entry fee for these. In addition, on the occasion of its anniversary this trade fair will invite its visitors and exhibitors to daily “Wine o’clock” sessions around the open stages where people can meet up and chat in a relaxed setting. “Another highlight is the exclusive Welcome Reception at the CCH, featuring keynotes and a great surprise show which is a perfect fit for our anniversary celebration. This has never been done before. We are always thinking of new ways to stay at least half a step ahead of the competition and continue being the gold standard of global maritime trade fairs,” said Selbach.

Topics heading the agenda of the next SMM include the digital transformation, maritime safety and the maritime energy transition in the face of climate change and a shifting global political landscape. Selbach: “Through its expanded spectrum of topics and additional presentation formats, SMM will not only closely follow but also drive current developments, for example in the area of alternative propulsion technologies, while providing the perfect environment for doing business.” One of the topics of this year’s Maritime Future Summit will be how digital technologies can be combined in smart ways to support automation, efficiency and sustainability in shipping. The conference will take place on 5 September and will feature top-ranking experts. The array of inspiring specialist conferences also includes gmec, the global maritime environmental congress on 7 September, MS&D, the international conference on maritime security and defence on 8 and 9 September, the Offshore Dialogue on 8 September, and the TradeWinds Shipowners Forum on 6 September. According to Selbach, forging smart alliances and developing multidisciplinary solutions is not only the order of the day but also one of the industry’s greatest future challenges. And as a native “Rhinelander” Selbach felt compelled to add: Don’t ever forget to have fun! So be prepared for surprises.

A man looks at a model of a ship on a tablet
Close up of digital multi motor control
When Asians want to do business with Europeans and Americans, they do so at SMM in Hamburg.
Claus Ulrich Selbach | Business Unit Director Maritime and Technology Fairs