ISE Creates Budget-Friendly Innovation Park, An Exhibit And Investor Pitch Zone For Start-Ups

July 9, 2024 by Dave Haynes

Trade shows are expensive ventures, especially for boot-strapped start-ups, so the exhibit halls at many trade shows have long had areas set aside and dressed up as innovation zones that suit tight budgets. Now the biggest trade show in this sector, Integrated Systems Europe (ISE), has announced what it calls an Innovation Park.

It’s a sweet set-up for newbie CEOs who may be eating a lot of Cup Noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner to stretch their finite dollars. For 1,500 EU, companies get a turnkey stand (a 6 meter “pod”) nicely located in the always-busy main corridor of the show – an area called Congress Square, which is between halls 4/5 and 6/7. The digital signage/DOOH main hall is 4 in 2025 (moved from 6).

ISE, if you are new to the industry, is a huge pro AV focused trade show held annually in Barcelona, at the Fira Gran Via conference center.

Centrally located in Congress Square, this dynamic initiative is set to take place on every show day from 4th to 7th February 2025 and promises to be an unmissable opportunity for startups to showcase breakthrough business ideas and connect with industry leaders. Innovation Park will include a dedicated Investors Lounge as well as a Pitching Stage programmed on all four days of the show by start-up venture capital experts Plug & Play.

“The introduction of Innovation Park cements ISE’s legacy of championing innovation in the pro AV and systems integration sectors,” says Mike Blackman, Managing Director at Integrated Systems Events (the company that runs the show for its trade association owners). “The ISE 2024 Visitor Survey revealed that 64% of attendees are eager to discover new products and services, with 80% of visitors playing a pivotal role in purchasing decisions, and 47% expecting to invest in or spend with exhibitors they meet at the show – making ISE the ideal place to take your business idea to the next level.”

The area is tuned to early stage entrepreneurs, both to generate awareness but also attract investors and business partners. Along with the pods (capped at 104), there will be:

The Innovation Park is taking over an area previously called the Discovery Zone, which will still exist, but will be located in Hall 8.1, which is way-way-way down a looping corridor at the rear of the convention center. I walked down that way a couple of years ago and started expecting to soon see a Welcome To Portugal sign.

All activities offered for startups (like the Pitching Stage & Matchmaking) are included for successful Innovation Park applicants who meet the criteria. That even includes the incremental cost stuff that can bite exhibitors in the ass, like connectivity and power. The Plug and Play VC team will manage the Pitching Stage, and will get in touch with the approved startups to coordinate the slots.

Again, a start-up zone is not a new idea but a good addition for ISE, I think. Doing a proper stand, with all the gear and set-up needs, gets expensive quickly. If your costs are just getting there, a bed and food, and all you have to do is show up and pull out a laptop or a product in a box or Pelican case, that’s very attractive. I’d also rather be there than have a full stand – at much more cost and complication – in the outer reaches of one of the halls. Presumably, the show operators will try to limit this to truly new companies, and not offer as a budget stand for established firms.

Leave a comment