The 7th biannual European Coatings Congress and Coatings Show was held in April 2003 in Nurnberg, Germany. This year's Congress theme "Creative Advances in Coatings Technology" drew a record number of attendees (380) and was aptly named. Program sessions consisted of 75 papers from 16 countries and were generally focused on the following topics: Pigments & Dispersions; Optimization of Coatings Formulation; Additives; Adhesion, Analysis & Testing; Waterborne Binders; UV & Light Induced Curing Technologies; High Performance Coatings; Automotive & Powder Coatings; Waterborne Systems; Specialty Coating Systems; PUR Technology; and New Solutions to Lower Costs.

Dr. Oswald Prucke, Institut fur Mikrosystemtechnik in Germany, was honored with "The European Coatings Award" for the best scientific paper. His paper was entitled "Novel Pathway for Tailor-Made Functional Coatings." It truly would have been difficult to choose a winner from the papers that I heard. All were excellent, well attended and dealt with topics of great interest to the industry.

It was very difficult to decide which paper to attend, due to there being four concurrent sessions. Keith Le Page, president of the Paint Research Association (PRA), the joint organizer of the congress together with Vincentz Network and FPL (the Research Institute for Pigments and Coatings), welcomed the congress audience. Dr. Egbert Brinkman, R&D Manager, Akzo Nobel Resins, The Netherlands, noted "I regard the Nurnberg Congress as a biannual milestone, where I can meet coatings scientists from all over the world." That accurately sums up what this event is all about. It is a prime opportunity for networking with other scientists.

This particular show promotes networking on all levels and does so quite successfully. This is probably why it is such a success both for the scientific people and the marketers. As the show is occurring, there are also special events built into the show and occurring during the show. This year there were several special-focus events aimed at particular interests, such as: a Purchasers' Day, the spotlighting of topics such as construction chemicals, the East & West presentations designed for the marketing segments, and a "Masterbatch Day."

Purchasers Day took the form of a presentation event tailored to the needs of the buyers and sellers of raw materials for coatings. The program was divided into different themes and, of course, finding prices was a focal point. The markets for pigments, extenders, binders and solvents all have their own rules and mechanisms. The aim of Purchasers' Day was to point these out and illustrate strategies and identify trends. Papers from manufacturers, traders and buyers explained how they see things and this stimulated the discussions that followed.

East & West

Connecting Europe was an informal technical summit preceded by a two-hour mini-congress. Eight of the leading representatives from associations and industry talked about their home market in brief presentations. They represented Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania. Simultaneous interpreting between Russian, German and English reflected the international nature of the audience.

Masterbatch day was a separate venue during the show for formulators of master batches and raw-materials suppliers to gather with their peers and exchange specialist information. There was a mini-program of lectures covering both raw materials innovations offered at the show and guidelines and legislation governing the use of colorants and additives. Again this provided more problem solving and networking opportunities for formulators and suppliers to work together.

In addition to the two-day technical Congress there were numerous product presentations in all exhibit halls that focused on raw materials, laboratory and production engineering, services and intermediates for construction chemicals. The presentations I saw were standing-room only.

The networking opportunities during the congress and during the show are highly promoted and very important in a global coatings environment. The exchange of technical information, market information, engineering know-how and technology transfer is crucial in our global environment and the scientific community in particular benefits greatly from the free exchange of ideas.

This biannual event is an occasion that warrants having several people in attendance. The days are long and packed with information for the R&D folks, the formulators, the purchasing and marketing folks and long-range planners. My frustration was only that my legs were not younger, the days were not longer and that I could not be in more than one place at one time. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that on all four days I literally could have been in four different places all day long and gleaned a ton of information. I suspect that there is so much occurring simultaneously that many attendees don't even know how much there is to take advantage of. The last I heard, over 60 journalists had registered in the pressroom; 21 different magazines were represented. This gives you an indication of the scope of this event.

Congratulations to the organizers of the congress and the show for providing a magnificent forum for exchange and for demonstrating the healthy nature of the coatings industry.

A great success in spite of economic slump, war and SARS

The European Coatings Show 2003 attracted 646 exhibitors from 36 countries showing a comprehensive range of products and information over a net space of 20,000 m2. The show attracted a total of over 16,000 visitors from 85 countries. An independent control group certifies the figures for exhibitors and visitors. The two-day technical Congress started on Monday, April 7, and the trade fair (show) ran from Tuesday through Thursday.

The show, which takes place every other year, convincingly confirmed its position as a top international event with 3% more exhibitors and 7% more display space over the previous event held in 2001. Of the exhibitors, 51% came from countries outside Germany -- a testimony to the international nature of the show. The share of international visitors to the show was around 50% as well. The decreases in trade visitors from the United States (due to the war), China and Japan were absorbed by an influx of visitors from other countries, especially from Eastern and Central Eastern Europe. There is no doubt that the European Coatings Show is countering a trend in the industry and has established itself and its position as a prestigious international event for this industry.