One hallmark of the year 2020 for the medical device community was the replacing of huge in-person conferences like MD&M West 2021 with virtual alternatives.

But with the lockdown measures having eased significantly in the US, this particular trade show – one of many ran by parent company Informa Markets – is now returning to in-person gathering.

Set to run between August 10 and 12, the event organisers expect to welcome 13,000 attendees to its venue, the Anaheim Convention Center in California.

We caught up with MD&M West 2021 event manager Huxley Collin (HC) to find out what the visitors can expect as the conference opts for face-to-face meeting.


Why did you decide to go back to in-person gathering for MD&M West 2021?

HC: We’ve been wanting to hold an in-person event this whole time, but we’ve had to wait until it’s safe enough to do so. We’ve had interest from our exhibitors and our audience to continue the engagement, which we were able to do with our virtual offerings. But finally now, as things are opening up and California is easing restrictions and travel restrictions are lifting in the US, we’re able to hold this event in person.


Will there still be precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at the event?

HC: It’s changing every day so we really can’t say exactly how it will look on site yet, but what I can tell you is that Informa as a whole has created a set of guidelines that can help us ensure safety and ensure that our audience feel safe when they arrive. This takes into consideration all of the guidance from health authorities and government authorities. We’re also following any rules and regulations from the state of California and the city of Anaheim.


Have there been any non-medical Informa events you’ve learned from in preparation for MD&M West 2021?

HC: Definitely. We’re lucky in that sense for sure because Informa is a huge company running events across the world, several of which are in America. Our business in Asia is actually returning a lot more to normal than it is here, so in China they’ve been holding events for a lot longer than we have. We’re able to learn from them, but specifically in the US we had our MAGIC event in Orlanda, Florida, which is a fashion trade show. We heard great feedback from that event and business was booming because it’s been so long.


How are you planning to help foster in-person networking at the event?

HC: A lot of the feedback we’ve received is that people are missing those random interactions you would have, say, in an elevator, at the exhibitor centre or at the expo cafe. Little things like that are what people are missing and we’re really excited to get people back into those chance interactions. Other than that, we have a celebration of innovation reception that we’re holding Wednesday evening (August 11) and within that we’ll have a celebration for the winners of the Medical Design Excellence Awards announced earlier this month. We’re also doing a great little sponsored beer garden that should be really exciting.


Is the event aimed more at medical device manufacturers or clinical professionals?

HC: The event itself is comprised of five different brands: Medical Device & Manufacturing, Design & Manufacturing, Westpack, ATX and Plastec. All of those brands under one roof allows us to bring together different parts of the manufacturing lifecycle, so anybody involved along that chain can benefit from the exhibitors and content geared towards what they are interested in.


What sorts of trends can attendees expect to see represented in the sessions?

HC: Wearable and digital health will be a big focus, as will smart manufacturing and 3D printing. 3D printing was the biggest interest among our audience when we asked them. We’ll have paid conference content around 3D printing as well as a theatre on the show floor exclusively focused on it. Another focus will be regulation, so we have some regulatory specialists coming to speak about FDA regulation and staying compliant, and then we also have quality and risk management.


How will the issue of sustainability be featured at the conference?

HC: We’ve partnered with SPE (Save Planet Earth), who normally do an event called MiniTec, which is about emerging materials and technologies in medical devices, the day before our event. But this year they’re going to include their MiniTec into our conference agenda to allow all of our conference attendees to attend. They have speakers from Eastman (medical packaging), and the first session they’re opening on will be about polyurethane and active pharmaceutical ingredients, and that will be presented by Lubrizol.