Many events, trade shows and conferences for medtech industry figures have switched to an online, or 'virtual' format in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic


Many trade shows and conferences would most likely have been forced to postpone or cancel without the option to convert to a solely online format (Credit: Alexandra Koch)

The medical device industry may have suffered through much of 2020 due to the paralysing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but numerous medtech events have switched to an entirely online, or ‘virtual’, format to ease this struggle.

Trade fairs and industry-specific conferences are one of the key ways manufacturers, suppliers and investors alike can gather in order to forge new business relationships, promote their companies and exchange ideas.

It looked as though this ecosystem would be severely disrupted earlier this year when the SARS-CoV-2 virus began to sweep across the world, with many medtech events either being postponed or cancelled completely.

However, the organisers behind many of these shows have since attempted to reestablish these critical industry forums by switching to an entirely virtual format, where attendees tune in remotely from all over the globe rather than travelling to a physical venue.

We take a look at all the major medtech conferences and trade shows scheduled during the remainder of 2020 that have chosen to do this.


Virtual medtech events in 2020

The MedTech Conference – AdvaMed

The MedTech Conference, which is run by US medical device trade association AdvaMed, had been set to take place in Toronto, Canada for the first time this year.

However, health and safety concerns saw the event take place online from 5-7 October 2020 instead – after being appropriately rebranded as the Virtual MedTech Conference.

The decision to revert to a solely-virtual offering was made in June, with plans to host the conference in Toronto being pushed back to 2022.

In the past, the event has played host to more than 3,300 executives from across the medtech sector and, in 2020, the Virtual MedTech Conference’s sponsors include major medical device manufacturers like Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson and BD (Becton Dickinson).


MedTech Summit – Informa

UK digital event specialist Informa made the decision to deliver its 2020 MedTech Summit online earlier this year, having previously planned to host the event in Dublin, Ireland.

It will take place virtually from 12-16 October – the same timeframe it was originally scheduled for – and is sponsored by the BSI (British Standards Institution) Group and NSF International, which are responsible for ensuring compliance with medical device regulations in the UK and US respectively.

The MedTech Summit will mainly focus on advising companies how best to prepare for the MDR (Medical Device Regulation), which will be enforced as part of EU law from 26 May 2021, and the IVDR (In Vitro Diagnostic Regulation), which will come into effect in May 2022.

Other areas covered as part of the event’s agenda include biocompatibility for medical devices, drug delivery combination products, and applications of software and AI in medtech.


AMD Summit – Generis

The AMD (American Medical Device) Summit was previously set to take place from 19-20 October in Chicago, Illinois.

However, the organiser – Canadian event management company Generis – has now switched to an entirely online, three-day event from 13-15 October.

The virtual AMD Summit is expected to host more than 250 figures from across the medtech industry, and will feature speakers from Google Health, Novartis, Fresenius Medical Care, Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers.


AM Medical Summit – ASME

The AM Medical Summit, which focuses on additive manufacturing (AM) and the latest innovations in 3D printing, was originally set to take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) saw fit to move the event to an online format, however, having already successfully hosted the first AM Medical Summit virtually in May 2020.

It will take place from 28-29 October, with speakers from Mayo Clinic, the FDA, Stryker and GE Additive – General Electric’s additive manufacturing-devoted subsidiary – all set to attend.

medtech virtual events 2020
James Coburn, senior adviser for emerging technology at the US FDA, is one of more than 60 speakers scheduled to take part in the virtual AM Medical Summit 2020 (Credit: FDA)


BIOMEDevice San Jose – Informa

Prior to the widespread impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Informa’s BIOMEDevice San Jose – which considers itself Silicon Valley’s premier medtech event – had been set to take place from 9-10 December 2020 in San Jose, California.

It has since been rebranded as BIOMEDigital and will take place more than one month earlier than the original date, from 4-5 November, with the traditional, in-person event set to return to San Jose in December 2021.

BIOMEDigital will feature a “start-up stadium” where upcoming companies can participate in start-up panels and pitches, after which attendees will vote for their favourite entrant.

Boston Scientific, Philips and Protolabs are among the major medical device firms presenting speakers at the event.


MD&M West and MD&M Minneapolis – Informa

Technically, both of Informa’s MD&M (Medical Design & Manufacturing) events have actually been pushed back, rather than simply converting to a digital format.

MD&M West 2021 – the biggest global trade fair of its kind – will now take place in August next year, rather than February, while MD&M Minneapolis was set to take place from 28-29 October 2020, but will not return as an in-person event until November 2021.

However, Informa is also encouraging all those interested in these conferences to attend Virtual Engineering Week – an all-digital, five-day event showcasing hundreds of exhibitors within medtech, automation, design, packaging, plastics and quality.

Virtual Engineering Week will take place from 30 November to 4 December 2020, and features speakers from Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, Philips and Siemens.


COMPAMED and MEDICA – Messe Düsseldorf

COMPAMED and MEDICA are among the biggest medtech trade fairs in Europe, having brought in a combined total of 121,000 visitors last year.

Both events were set to take place in Düsseldorf, Germany from 16-19 November 2020, but have instead been launched online as virtual.COMPAMED and virtual.MEDICA by trade fair organiser Messe Düsseldorf.

COMPAMED and MEDICA took place in Düsseldorf in 2019 (Credit: Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann)

Messe Düsseldorf has also said that, next year, COMPAMED 2021 and MEDICA 2021 will be held as hybrid events, meaning visitors to a physical venue will have access to live platforms and other digital offerings.


Biotech Showcase 2021 – Informa

Informa’s Biotech Showcase was scheduled to take place in San Francisco, California from 11-13 January 2021, but has already shifted to an entirely virtual format, becoming a five-day event from 11-15 January in the process.

Its 2020 edition played host to more than 3,700 attendees – including 2,200 companies – earlier this year.

Biotech Showcase is one of the first events set for early next year that has already chosen to go virtual now, rather than waiting to see what the situation is regarding the Covid-19 pandemic closer to the time.

It remains to be seen whether other medical device trade shows scheduled for later in 2021 – such as the UK’s Med-Tech Innovation Expo, MedtecLIVE in Germany, and both MD&M events – will follow suit.