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Tuesday, February 9, 2021 

The organisers of the international maritime trade fair SMM say that the purely digital conference held in early February, replacing the fair and exhibition scheduled for September 2020 that was cancelled due to the pandemic, was a great success.

Over four days, SMM Digital's two online streams with 60 hours of programming and more than 160 speakers drew numerous viewers. The programme revolved around 'driving the maritime transition'. Apart from discussions of the current Corona crisis, the panels, sessions and interviews focused on digitalisation and environment protection as general topics. Industry representatives outlined what the future of the maritime industry might look like.

Bernd Aufderheide, President and CEO of Hamburg Messe und Congress, said: "We are enthusiastic about the great response to the first SMM that took place entirely on the Internet. The attractive package we had put together for the maritime community under coronavirus conditions was highly welcomed by the participants. While a digital programme cannot fully replace the physical event with face-to-face interaction between exhibitors and visitors, it could be a meaningful future addition to the trade fair."

More than 7,000 viewers in 80 different countries watched the online programme. To make the content available to interested parties in other time zones, as well, both streams including all panels, sessions and interviews were rebroadcast each night. Climate protection was a key topic in several of the conferences, especially at the global maritime environment congress, gmec. IMO environmental expert Roel Hoenders outlined the industry's decarbonisation roadmap. Georgios Plevrakis, Director Global Sustainability at the US classification society ABS, stressed that enormous technological progress is needed to achieve the goal set for the year 2050.

Another core theme at SMM Digital was digitalisation. How can smart technologies be applied to enhance the efficiency of fleets and optimise the supply chain? How realistic is the vision of ships operating autonomously? Pierre Guillemin, VP Technology, Wärtsilä Voyage, provided insights into new possibilities opened up by Artificial Intelligence.

Numerous conference viewers seized the opportunity to ask the panellists questions using the digital Q&A feature. In addition, members of the maritime community were able to exchange views and ideas using the chat functionality, or reach out to potential business and research partners at the MariMatch@SMM event to expand their maritime networks.

Aufderheide expressed his hopes that the next SMM will take place in Hamburg as a live event "with real people” again, scheduled to begin on 6 September 2022.

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