International Summer University

The International Summer University is aimed at professionals working within the trade fair industry. It provides an interactive educational platform for the exchange of strategic and operational knowledge. Industry professionals from around the world form a learning community to discuss themes that are critical to the success of the industry.

Fair = Fair Trade?  Exhibition Formats in the Age of Sustainability

Date: 17.06.-19.06.2020

Register here.

Early Bird fees available until 20 March 2020


The 2020 UFI International Summer University (ISU) is aimed at increasing public awareness of the impact that business has on environmental and social wellbeing.

ISU Flyer


Be it positive or negative, these two factors are key drivers of corporate success. Paying attention to sustainable growth can create significant immediate and lasting opportunities.

This year’s ISU, aimed at professionals working in the trade fair industry, will showcase the impact that sustainable value creation has on all parts of the global exhibition industry. You wouldn’t plan your event without clear experience or economic objectives, so why should your sustainability planning be any different?

This educational programme combines the knowledge of academics (in cooperation with the Institute of Trade Fair Management, University of Cologne), industry experts (through Koelnmesse and UFI) and a variety of best practice initiatives from both inside and outside the industry (the event is supported by AUMA, the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry). The ISU will demonstrate that better environmental and social outcomes need not come at the expense of economic value.

Learn how the trade fair industry can address evolving social and environmental concerns effectively through such factors as the integration of Corporate Social Responsibility in existing and new exhibition formats.

Our lectures, workshops and case studies, moderated by top executives and reputed university professors, will help you to capture the value of sustainable growth, aided as always by UFI’s outstanding networking opportunities.

So please join us and celebrate new exhibition formats in the age of sustainability; part of the 2020 sustainable development commitment from UFI.

Why participate?

  • Gain an overview of present market trends in the trade fair industry
  • Enrich your business network
  • Enhance your professional value
  • Grasp the value of digitalization
  •  Learn to think differently and unconventionally

Vital information

  • Annually changing focus
  • 3 intensive days of lectures, discussions and networking
  • Top-class speakers
  • Highly interactive workshops and industry case studies

What do you get at the end?

Networking opportunities, added expertise and a personal certificate signed by the responsible university professors and the UFI CEO.

11th ISU – 2019

International Summer University Cologne 2019

Transforming Exhibitions: Core competencies of tomorrow’s matchmaking

“Personally I am very grateful to have attended this year’s  International Summer University.  Such a relevant and high-class programme to bring together trade fair professional from around the world. The ISU gave me the opportunity to gain insights into the latest ideas and solutions on effective matchmaking strategies and I got to exchange with fantastic speakers. The best practice examples displayed solutions that I can implement in my day-to-day work. I also very much appreciated the networking opportunities with my international colleagues, crucial for exchange and to help spark new ideas. ISU delivered this and much more…!” Csaba Vörös, Exhibition Director at HUNGEXPO – GL Events, Hungary.

Match-making is becoming increasingly important for the success of an exhibition: trade fair organizers are no longer just to sell spaces and services but to bring together the offer with the most qualified demand possible. ISU 2019 gave me the opportunity to listen to experiences from international speakers and to confront myself with a class composed of a very high-level group. The information I learned in three days increased my personal knowledge of match-making and certainly improved my future work. ISU means education, experience, networking.” Alessio Fineo – Project Manager Deutsche Messe, Italy.

As a first-time attendee, I was not sure what exactly to expect from the International Summer University (ISU). Now that I’m back at work, I can say that it was a very good decision to have taken part in these three days in Cologne. I’ve got to know new people from the other trade fair venues with similar challenges and the exchange with them was very valuable for me. At my project, the cybersecurity summit Command Control, we’re about to install a whole new and diverse matchmaking offer for our attendees and I brought back some input and new ideas on how to make it a success. I can really recommend the ISU to my fellow exhibition industry peers and hope they get a chance to attend!Christina Rabl, Conference Manager Command Control, Messe München, Germany.

About the Event

With excellent speakers, university professors, marketeers, ADR professionals and a dream crowd of participants, the 2019 International Summer University was a great success.

The first day of the ISU focused on the changing ecosystem that we operate in, how it affects our industry and how it impacts our success stories. A workshop on agile leadership concluded the day at the Incube8 of Koelnmesse offering great icebreaker for the networking Dinner at KoelnSKY.

Ready to re-inventing our matchmaking strategy, the second day offered plenty food for thought. Lectures, presentations, best practice examples and role-plays kept the participants and speakers on their feet. #bacteriamarketing #opensourcemarketing #contentcreator #startups #negotiation #harvard #venuetour

Tried and Tested: The 11th ISU concluded with excellent best practice examples from outside of the exhibition industry to spark ideas on how to learn from one another. #AI #digitalinnovation #personalchemistry

Programme    Speakers

10th ISU – 2018: Engine of Change – Unleash Digital Potential to Drive Innovation and Sales

9th ISU – 2017: Cutting-Edge Services – Tipping the Scale for Exhibition Success

8th ISU – 2016: Customer Journey – Touring the Trade Fair Touchpoints