SAHA EXPO 2022 will be held at Istanbul Expo Centre between October 25-28 this year and will bring various innovations for both participants and visitors. İlhami KELEŞ, Secretary General of SAHA Istanbul has shared insights on these innovations, which aim to further increase the added value provided to all parties, for the readers of MSI TDR, which is among the press sponsors of SAHA EXPO 2022.
MSI TDR: What kind of a position SAHA EXPO occupies in the defence and aerospace industry?
İlhami KELEŞ: As you might know, SAHA EXPO isn’t held as a classical defence and aerospace fair where weapons like rifles and mortars are being sold. It has been conceptualised as the industrial specialty fair of manufacturers. No other fair exists in the entire world with such a concept, and as such, we are offering a world brand to everyone.
When we take a look at the sector, we can observe that IDEF is held in odd years as a platform fair, while SAHA EXPO is held in even years, as an industrial specialty fair and that there is a synergy and coordination between these efforts.
We planned the fair area as if we were urban planners and we patented this concept as well. We created a beautiful concept that have bazaars and squares like the cities on the ancient Silk Road, a concept that will distribute attention to all corners of the fair equally. As such we will be making more companies visible.
Fairs create a huge economy by themselves. We are supporting our companies to reach the entire world. As such, we think it’s important for events like this are supported for the development of our country. We enjoy our state support in this regard. SAHA EXPO 2022 is held under the auspices of the Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye, in partnership with Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, National Defence, Industry and Technology, and Trade along with Defence Industry Agency (SSB). Official talks continue with 104 countries. We expect many foreign companies to attend the fair, along with official delegations and procurement delegations with the support from Ministry of Trade.
Right Place to Be, for Both Domestic and Foreign Companies
MSI TDR: What would you like to share regarding the provisions and added value that SAHA EXPO 2022 provides for companies?
İlhami KELEŞ: We plan to hold SAHA EXPO 2022 in 6 halls and an area of about 60,000 square metres. SAHA EXPO 2022 is a supply chain fair where industrialists meet with other industrialists and will bring current and potential business partners of the attendants together along with suppliers and sector professionals, both foreign and Turkish.
Like previous fairs, throughout the whole event B2B meetings will be held between large platform producers and participants that supply systems, subsystems, components, and parts, and B2G meetings will be held between delegation and participants. In addition, international panel discussions, product, and project launches, and signing ceremonies will also be held.
A special startup section will also be present in the fair. Both the innovative companies that are supported within SAHA Startups Project, and startups within universities and technoparks will be able to present their projects. Attending companies will have the opportunity to learn about these projects.
Our Ministers, President of Defence Industry Agency and many more high-ranking officials will actively take part in the fair. Many press members across the globe will be watching the fair closely as well. We have created a significant marketing infrastructure to ensure the products are announced to the whole world.
We expect SAHA EXPO to be very successful this year as well and make significant contribution to the attending companies.
MSI TDR: What kind of benefits does SAHA EXPO 2022 provide for foreign companies? Why should a foreign company participate in the fair?
İlhami KELEŞ: We reach many regions including Europe, Northern Africa, and Far East with our contacts regarding the participation. SAHA EXPO 2022 will offer plenty of advantages to the companies attending from abroad. We will share an information package we prepared, regarding the correct companies to hold B2B meetings. These meetings will be planned in advance.
We will be supporting foreign participants with a guide delegation consisting of senior students studying at various departments at Istanbul Technical University.
In our plannings we use the information we will receive from surveys before the event. The companies will attend the fair pre-informed, while the guides we will assign to the companies will ensure the meetings and other contacts will be more efficient than otherwise.
In summary, foreign attendants will be receiving special attention.
We also expect plenty of foreign official and company delegations because of official delegation invitations from our ministries and SSB to their foreign counterparts and announcements they will share with foreign companies. It will be a great opportunity for foreign companies, and official and commercial delegations to observe technology-oriented companies in Türkiye and their capabilities in the fair.
MSI TDR: What is your method for matching companies?
İlhami KELEŞ: We hold surveys with the companies that will be attending the fair. Thanks to these surveys we can guide the companies. For example, we offer companies suggestions like: “These companies can be your customers, these companies can be your suppliers, you can find business development opportunities with these companies, if you need investment in this field, you can negotiate with these investors”. As such, the attending companies will participate to the fair target-oriented.
We send a questionnaire to the companies as a part of this survey process. With a software suite that process the answers we receive, we can assess which company needs what, meetings with which companies will be beneficial for them, and similar data points. We give suggestions to the attending companies with using this data.
We are doing our best to ensure the fair will offer maximum benefits to everyone. We estimate that our methodology will lead to significant added value.
New and Indigenous Layout Concept
MSI TDR: SAHA EXPO 2022 will bring a new layout concept. What would you like to share on this concept?
İlhami KELEŞ: We planned the fair area as if we were urban planners and we patented this concept as well. We created a beautiful concept that have bazaars and squares like the cities on the ancient Silk Road, a concept that will distribute attention to all corners of the fair equally. As such we will be making more companies visible.
The main contractors will be in the “bazaars and squares” I have mentioned. A square will be set aside for one of our main contractors, like “ASELSAN Square” or “Roketsan Square”. With this concept we will both enrich the atmosphere of the fair and ensure it will be more efficient.
In other fairs, big companies are on the main corridors and small companies complain about not being visible enough since they are positioned in back halls. With this new concept we bring a solution to this problem.
MSI TDR: How many squares will be on the fair area?
İlhami KELEŞ: We made 8 large squares. In these squares there are special areas we named as spheres, planned to be 5×5 or 6×6 metres. The company that “owns” the square can use these areas as a presentation or meeting area. Our main contractors like ASELSAN, Baykar, Turkish Aerospace, Roketsan, ASFAT and HAVELSAN will have their own squares.
World’s First Metaverse Fair in Defence and Aerospace
MSI TDR: SAHA EXPO is a leading event regarding virtual fair applications as well as its physical fair. Could you share some insight on the current status of your efforts on this area?
İlhami KELEŞ: With SAHA EXPO 2022, we will be holding the first “Metaverse” fair in the defence and aerospace sector. This is a big leap and contribution for our sector.
You will be able to visit the fair with your own avatar or one of the pre-made ones and inspect the projects. We will offer this service free of charge to the attending companies. The companies will be in our Metaverse fair between 1 November 2022-15 February 2023. The visitors around the world that could not attend the physical fair will be able to visit SAHA EXPO, see the projects, and hold meetings.
I would like to say that we made great strides in virtual fair applications since 2020. In 2020, SAHA EXPO was postponed due to the pandemic and held online, thanks to the virtual fair concept we developed in line with our vision, through the XperExpo software that was developed by BİTES, an ASELSAN subsidiary. The virtual fair was attended by 291 companies and 902 personnel from those companies. 536 products in total were showcased as 3D models. It was visited by over 115,000 people, with 98,000 of them being Turkish and the rest from foreign countries.
We hold surveys with the companies that will be attending the fair. Thanks to these surveys we can guide the companies. For example, we offer companies suggestions like: “These companies can be your customers, these companies can be your suppliers, you can find business development opportunities with these companies, if you need investment in this field, you can negotiate with these investors”. As such, the attending companies will participate to the fair target-oriented.
In 2021, SAHA EXPO was held as a hybrid fair, between 10-13 November. Compared to the first SAHA EXPO in 2018, it was held in an area 5 times larger, around 40,000 square metres in 4 main halls and a foyer area. The fair was attended by 608 companies in total, including representations. Among these companies, there were 203 foreign companies from 36 countries. It was held for 4 days in total, and around 18,000 people visited during this time. Throughout the fair, panel discussions were held with the leading names in the sector. During the fair, 31 agreements, contracts and protocols were signed, with 4 of them disclosing their value. This value was around $123,500,000.
SAHA Istanbul, Largest in Europe
MSI TDR: What else would you like to add?
İlhami KELEŞ: SAHA İstanbul, with its 816 companies and 22 universities that work on defence and aerospace technologies, became the largest industrial cluster in Europe. We were the second largest cluster in European Aerospace Cluster Partnership (EACP) after Airbus. This month, with the companies that were admitted by our executive board, SAHA Istanbul surpassed Airbus’ Aerospace Valley in Toulouse. We are now the biggest cluster in Europe. Our defence and aerospace sector is a rising star in the world and as SAHA Istanbul, we make significant contributions to it.
Defence and aerospace industry is a matter of existence for Türkiye when we consider the geostrategic position we hold. It is not enough to have high technology products, it’s crucial to produce them with national resources. SAHA Istanbul supports the sector with this in mind. SAHA EXPO is one of the examples for our support.
SAHA EXPO 2022 will be an event that provides added value to all its participants with its unique layout concept, innovative methods to match companies, and its Metaverse implementation.
We would like to thank İlhami KELEŞ, Secretary General of SAHA Istanbul for taking time to answer our questions, and for providing us with such valuable information.