2020 was a lockdown year for the economy. Even though event management was one of the hardest hit industries, the work here never stopped. Peoples need to communicate does not depend on closed borders and epidemiological situation. On the contrary, serious external challenges compel experts from different countries to join their intellectual eff orts.
During the pandemic year, the Roscongress Foundation held 240 business, 70 sports and 20 cultural events, with a total of 365 live broadcasts covering the business and social agenda. At the same time, several new online platforms were launched: Investinregions.ru, an investment portal for Russian regions; RCBusiness, a B2B marketplace for entrepreneurs; the Anti-Crisis Plan. World Practices portal; and the digital creative space RC-ART for people of creative professions.
Digital tools that were previously only used in event preparation, whether participants registration or surveying, have come to the fore. It turned out that, thanks to modern technologies, a couple of weeks can pass from the moment an event is announced until it is held. It turned out that leading experts from all over the world can gather very quickly on a virtual platform and share their experience to solve problems that are not virtual at all.
Newly acquired competences have taken the convention and exhibition industry to a fundamentally different level. Hybrid and interactive formats, 3D-exhibitions with the full immersion effect all of the above made the event industry even more competitive and interesting. This transformation, of course, would have happened without the coronavirus, but much later. Similarly, vaccines based on genetically engineered technology would have stayed in the realm of lab research for years, had it not been for the urgent need. Now, however, these vaccines are successfully used all over the world, the first among them being Russias Sputnik V.
Where East meets West
The triumphs of scientists and doctors have made it possible to achieve a breakthrough in the spread of coronavirus. Large offline events are once again possible, provided, of course, that all safety precautions are taken.
It is symbolic and at the same time only logical, that the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum became the first large-scale event in Russia. Aft er all, it is the main business event of the year, uniting leaders of governments, heads of major companies and world-class experts. It will open a series of landmark forums, festivals and conventions, including:
• the Eastern Economic Forum on 24 September in Vladivostok,
• the Russian Energy Week and the Eurasian Womens Forum (both events start the same day, 13 October)
• the Arctic: Territory of Dialogue International Arctic Forum, scheduled for spring 2022 (see the full calendar of events on page 132).
The significance of SPIEF for the development of the global economy is enormous, representatives of business circles both in the West and in the East emphasize.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Nasser bin Jassim Al Thani, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Qatar to Russia:
«SPIEF has always been and remains the leading platform for establishing new business contacts and partnership agreements. We are interested in developing a bilateral dialogue between our countries to further strengthen cooperation and joint implementation of investment projects.»
Johan Vanderplaetse, Chairman of the board, Association of European Businesses, echoes the same sentiment:
«I am really glad that this Forum will take place. We, as the Association of European Businesses, will definitely be there and we will take part in some of the sessions and panel discussions. And the main topic for us, of course, is how to strengthen business relations between Europe and Russia.»
The magic of the largest offline event lies in real-life dialogue, in direct contact with the audience, in the opportunity to negotiate face to face directly on site, in informal communication during cultural, sports, or entertainment events. Despite all the technological advances, it is impossible to imagine those instances happening online and it is unlikely to ever be possible.
Antonio Fallico, President of the Conoscere Eurasia Association and Banca Intesa Chairman of the Board:
«Businesspeople miss direct communication and real-life networking.»
According to Alexander Kalinin, President of OPORA RUSSIA, events of such a format and scale as SPIEF allow businesspeople to communicate directly with both government representatives and their international partners and 2021 will be no exception.
Finally, in addition to the long-term beneficial impact on the economy in the form of signed agreements and investment projects (according to the National Congress Bureau, every rouble invested in the event industry returns 57 roubles), there is an immediate effect.
Valery Moskalenko, the Chairman of St. Petersburg Committee for Economic Policy and Strategic Planning:
«Business is anticipating the Forum. Other aspects aside, it is the first event which will allow the tourist industry to make up for the losses it had suffered from in the previous year.»
For many years, SPIEF has been the worlds leading platform for discussing key economic issues facing Russia, emerging markets, and the world as a whole. In 2021, it becomes a symbol of rebirth.