Danka Selić, CEO, Belgrade Fair:

Bringing The Construction Industry Together

Experts praise Belgrade Fair’s Building Trade Fair as one of the most prestigious events in the construction industry in South-East Europe, primarily because of its innovativeness

Even back in the day when it was part of the Technical Fair, which was half a century ago, the Building Trade Fair used to attract a great deal of attention from experts, companies, visitors. It has since become an autonomous event of international character, with an ever increasing number of exhibitors, expert meetings and exhibitions, and a ‘view into the world’ for many building companies, primarily smaller ones, doing business on the domestic and regional markets.

This year the Fair continues to present numerous innovations in the construction industry, from materials to innovative technical and building solutions to the latest IT trends in the industry.

The Building Trade Fair is one of the most visited exhibitions. How many exhibitors do you expect this year and where do they come from?

– The Building Trade Fair is indeed one of our most visited events both by exhibitors and by visitors. For the almost four and a half decades that it has existed as an independent event, the Building Trade Fair has always been by any measurable parameter – attendance, showcased innovative technologies and materials, demonstrated business potential of the sector – a reliable indicator of what and how much we as organisers should communicate to the actors in the construction industry and what we should take from their experience and bring to the fair. These are the main reasons why the number of exhibitors might be an overrated criterion compared to their variety, the innovativeness and attractiveness of what they produce, or even aggressiveness in dictating trends, rules of conduct, etc.

Yet some 550 expected and announced exhibitors, of which at least 150 from abroad from 25 countries, and some 35 thousand expected visitors, among them a great number of those with business cards, are in themselves a sufficient guarantee and a broad basis for getting the quality we all hope for.

There will also be country-specific exhibitions at this year’s exhibition. Turkey, China, India, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic and other countries will have their own pavilions

The construction industry establishes its professionalism at this exhibition. Can we expect innovations in materials and construction itself, primarily in IT technologies?

– The affirmation of building and construction is logically one of the immanent characteristics of this event, perhaps even its essence. Such a context simply means and in every way includes innovation, be it new building materials or new technologies, or innovation in existing materials and technologies, made available to the wider public through expert, professional enterprise, and commercialised through the fair. This also counts for IT technologies and for any kind of innovative application software, customary in the construction industry for a long time and not considered exclusive any more unless it literally is that.

How important this context is to us is reflected in the extensive organisational, expert, advisory and other assistance that we get from the Serbian Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure. At the end of the day, this year’s Organisational Committee of the Building Trade Fair will be chaired by Prof. Zorana Mihajlović, PhD, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure.

How is this year’s exhibition going to be grouped, as it brings together building engineers, architects, design engineers, contractors and the manufacturers of heavy equipment and materials?

– This year’s exhibitions will be grouped traditionally, so to speak, as recommended by exhibitors and professionals. This means that the exhibitions with innovative content and design, such as this year’s conceptually innovative emphasis on construction equipment and machinery including a classic crane as its symbol, will find its place in the segments familiar to the visitors: research and design engineering, construction and maintenance, building construction, civil engineering, state-of-the-art building systems, the latest materials, construction machinery, devices and tools, furnishings and interior design, information technologies… All this will be exhibited in six halls of the Belgrade Fair and in the open air, on some 19,000 square meters in total.

A separate segment will be the 9th International Stone Fair, STONE EXPO SERBIA, the largest event of its kind for natural stone and the associated industry. They have announced the participation of over 20 countries in the region and worldwide, architects, designers, representatives of the construction industry, urban planning, institutional and private investors from Serbia and the region.

Sajam

This year, some 600 exhibitors will be featured on 19,000 square meters, almost the entire fair ground, among them the manufacturers of materials, heavy equipment, innovative construction, engineering practices and new IT solutions in the construction industry

Will there be country-specific exhibitions as before and how important are they for the industry?

– There will also be country-specific exhibitions at this year’s exhibition. Turkey, China, India, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic and other countries will have their own pavilions. The Austrian and Indian chambers of commerce will take part in the fair for the first time. For all of them this is an opportunity to research the market, broaden cooperation and launch new projects, and for us a way to find out first-hand where we stand and what we are in terms of global standards.

The Building Trade Fair grows from year to year despite the difficulties in the industry. Is this because of its reputation and the efforts of the Belgrade Fair to make it a top-class exhibition?

– The management of the Belgrade Fair are aware of the company’s business dimensions, including the outstanding historic value of the brand. We are aware that the Fair has been established as a representative trade fair company with the most recognised and best known events in the region, and that some events and the company itself in a special way exchange their brand-related destinies, powers and flaws. As the value of the Fair is not measured only by economic and commercial parameters but also, and quite significantly, by the emotional and cultural ones, this logically transfers to its events, including the great Building Trade Fair.

Are there any plans for specialised programmes by smaller manufacturers or engineering and architectural practices to show their work?

– Specialised programmes are devised by professionals, guild groups, educational institutions, small companies and ateliers and are as a rule the backbone of the fair’s auxiliary programmes. We as organisers and motivators are making great efforts to provide the so-called favourable environment and infrastructure so that these programmes can be realised to a high standard. And it seems we do it successfully.