SAHA EXPO, being organised in a fully virtual environment by the SAHA Istanbul Cluster for the first time this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, went online on 9 November. The event will continue for 5 months, and in its first month had been visited by a total of 42,901 people, including 38,249 from Turkey and 4,652 from different countries around the world.
The companies participating in the event are able to display and promote their products on virtual 3D stands and can also post brochures and videos on the platform. They can also hold business-to-business (B2B) meetings or meetings with visiting delegations. Visitors to the virtual stands can leave their business cards, and the participating companies can access data about the number of people who have visited their stands or left their business cards. Mobile applications have been developed to facilitate access to the fair.
A total of 355 products are being displayed in the 3D environment by 288 firms from 44 countries, along with informational videos on 651 products and informational catalogues for a total of 1,540 products and firms. There are 826 virtual meeting rooms for the hosting of bilateral meetings during the virtual fair.
This is the first virtual fair for many of the participating firms, and companies in the defence and aerospace sector are becoming aware of what they can expect from virtual events such as this when compared to traditional events. While the number of visitors will be much lower than observed at traditional events, it is noted by the companies that the number of visitors that are among their target groups represent a higher ratio at virtual events when compared to those held in physical settings.
Five Virtual Fairs and 50,000 Visitors during the Pandemic
The fair was inaugurated on 9 November at an event attended by Ruhsar Pekcan, Minister of Trade; Mustafa Varank, Minister of Industry and Technology; Prof. Dr. İsmail Demir, President of Defence Industries; Hasan Büyükdede, Deputy Minister of Industry and Technology; Haluk Bayraktar, Chairman of the Board of SAHA Istanbul; and İlhami Keleş, Secretary General of SAHA Istanbul.
In her address, Ruhsar Pekcan, Minister of Trade, spoke about the contributions of virtual fairs to commercial activities, stating that the five virtual fairs sponsored to date by the Ministry of Trade due to the ongoing the pandemic had been visited by 50,000 people, including 22,000 Turks and 28,000 foreigners. She went on to explain that they had received positive feedback from both participants and visitors at the events, and that the attendance of trade delegations to virtual fairs had contributed considerably to the efforts of exporters to introduce their products to potential buyers, while also ensuring the continuity of customer relations amid the restrictions related to the pandemic. Sharing information about the virtual trade delegations, Pekcan said, “We have brought 546 participating Turkish firms together with 1,548 foreign firms from 40 countries, and have hosted more than 5,200 bilateral business meetings since May.”
Number of Employees in the Sector Increases from 30,000 to 73,000 in 15 Years
In his address, Mustafa Varank, Minister of Industry and Technology, spoke about the transformation witnessed in the defence and aerospace sector over the past 15 years, and provided a comparison of figures from 2005 and 2020. “[In 2005] there were no Turkish companies among the top 100 defence companies in terms of turnover around world, but seven Turkish companies have made it onto the list this year. The sector employed 30,000 people in 2005, but today, more than 73,000 people are working in the defence and aerospace sector. Our exports have surged from $330 million to $3 billion. We are talking about a sector with an approximate turnover of $11 billion,” said Minister Varank.
The Vital Importance of SAHA Istanbul to the Defence Sector
Prof. Dr. İsmail Demir, President of Defence Industries, stressed that SAHA Istanbul’s efforts were of primary importance to Turkey: “If your industrial ecosystem is not strong, you cannot say that there is a strong defence sector. Thus, the existence of the SAHA Istanbul Cluster, and the channelling of the existing industrial and technological infrastructure in that region to the defence sector is of vital importance.” While Turkey’s defence sector is becoming more self-sufficient and competitive, Prof. Dr. Demir said that the current level was not sufficient, but that they were making strenuous efforts to achieve more.
Firms have Broader Knowledge of the Sector
Hasan Büyükdede, Deputy Minister of Industry and Technology and Founding President of SAHA Istanbul, drew attention to the rapid transformations witnessed in the field of defence: “Our firms now have broader knowledge of the defence sector, material technologies, land vehicles, aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), simulators, ship and submarine technologies and weapons. A sub-cluster has been established for each area, and partnerships have been created. The defence sector has thus become a sector for industrialists and our business community.”
Turkey Now Establishing Doctrines through the Technologies it Develops
Haluk Bayraktar, Chairman of Board of SAHA Istanbul, remarked: “Founded five years ago to inject the dynamism of the private sector into the defence sector and ensure its integration, SAHA Istanbul has grown step-by-step to become the largest industrial cluster in Turkey. Cost-effectiveness, sustainability, synergy, exports and training are the key concepts in the endeavours we undertake to trigger cooperation among the public sector, private sector and academia. The rate of indigenous products in the defence sector was 20 percent 15 years ago, and Turkey has gradually reduced its dependence on foreign systems in a short period thanks to the vision of the National Technology Movement, becoming a country that is establishing doctrines through the technologies it has developed in the history of war.”
SAHA EXPO will Continue to Grow through Feedback
İlhami Keleş, Secretary General of SAHA Istanbul, shared detailed information about the fair, and stated, “As we have learned during the organisation of the fair, we will need to motivate our companies more so that they can understand the importance and effects of virtual fairs,” adding that efforts to improve the virtual fairs would continue in line with the feedback received from companies.
More than 4,500 Visitors
SAHA EXPO continues to attract attention, both within Turkey and abroad. Some 288 companies are displaying their products at the event, including the leading firms in the Turkish defence and aerospace sector, and are taking advantage of the opportunities for focused business negotiations. A total of 18,231 B2B meetings were held in November, attended by professionals from both Turkey and abroad.
We present our special file, compiled from the highlights of the event, to the attention of our readers below:
- Agena BST’s New UAVs Turn Heads
- Anova R&D Continues to Develop its Products
- Baykar Exhibits VTOL Tactical UAV
- Bilişim A.Ş. Offers Corporate Software Solutions
- GALENTECH Offers its Capabilities to the Sector and End Users Alike
- Hakan Electric & Automation Introduces Automation Systems
- Virtual Office Developed by ICterra Displayed at the Virtual Fair
- Numesys Promotes Ansys Software
- Otonom Teknoloji Sheds Light on the Future of Aerostats with DORUK and DOLUNAY
- Sarsılmaz Targets the Delivery of Machine Guns from Serial Production this Year
- Roketsan Showcases Innovative Products
- Samsun Yurt Savunma Poised to Manufacture 2,000 CANIK M2 Heavy Machine Guns Annually
- Üntel Kablo Ready for VG95218 Military Ship Cabling in the Global Markets