International Summer University

Transforming Exhibitions: Core competencies of tomorrow’s matchmaking

5 – 7 June 2019 in Cologne, Germany

Programme  Registration  Speakers


Speaker preview

  • Anna Abelein, Managing Director and Co-Founder Protostart GmbH (Germany)
  • Dr. Holger Feist, Chief Strategy Officer at Messe München (Germany)
  • Jun.-Prof. Dr. Martin Paul Fritze, University of Cologne (Germany)
  • Tim Groot, CEO/Co-Founder at Grip AI – Aipowered event networking solutions (USA/UK)
  • Prof. Nikolaus Hafermaas, Creative Director at TIRAD (Germany)
  • Angela Herberholz, Programme Manager UFI (France)
  • Sophie Holt, Global Strategy Director at Explori (UK)
  • Howard Klein, Former Development Director at Reed Exhibitions (UK)
  • Dr. Lara Lobschat, Assistant Professor of Marketing, University of Groningen (The Netherlands)
  • Dr. Dominik Matyka,Chief Advisor DMEXCO & Partner Cavalry Ventures
  • Rahim Shamji, Founder and CEO at ADR ODR International (UK)
  • Prof. Dr. Stefano Puntoni, Professor of Marketing, Rotterdam School of Management (The Netherlands)
  • Dr. Bernd Storm van’s Gravesande, Founder of Bits & Pretzels (Germany)

What is it?

The ISU is aimed at professionals working within the trade fair industry and 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.

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?

A personal certificate signed by the responsible university professors and the UFI President.


10th ISU – 2018

Engine of Change – Unleash Digital Potential to Drive Innovation and Sales

The theme was “Engine of Change – Unleash Digital Potential to Drive Innovation and Sales” and the programme included a wide range of
academic content and practical exercises to provide a comprehensive overview of the issues involved.

55 industry professionals from 13 countries attended the programme.

Lectures and workshops focused on top industry issues, such as digitisation, innovation and sales, customer engagement, virtual reality, cross-media
approaches and matchmaking. Special attention was given to data analysis technologies that allow analysts to better recognise customer habits and needs. In addition, speakers highlighted the important role that start-ups and new technologies play in the event industry, and how business models of traditional
companies can be changed to represent resources and innovative standpoints.

The programme finished with an interactive key learning session to combine the perspectives of organisers and exhibitors with those
of digital and communications experts.

ISU was organised by the Institute of Trade Fair Management at the University of Cologne in cooperation with UFI, Koelnmesse and

“Meeting and exchanging ideas with colleagues from all over the world is a valuable ISU experience. You will find new inspiration and above all ideas for continuous improvement.” Patrick Dehner & Florian Weller, Landesmesse Stuttgart GmbH

“The ISU offers added value through the diversity of participating international companies and the combination of theory in the morning and practice in the form of afternoon workshops. Another important aspect was the networking which was taken up again and again during the event.” Holger Friesz, Ungerboeck Systems International GmbH.


9th ISU – 2019

“Cutting-Edge Services – Tipping the Scale for Exhibition Success”

Arthur Tolentino, Head of Sponsorship, Messe Frankfurt Middle East commented: “ISU is one of the most intra-personal and interactive training I’ve attended so far. It is an excellent platform to learn, interact and network with industry colleagues. The organiser put a great job in putting together such an amazing programme and expert speakers from different industries. Highly recommended. Hope to attend again next year for the 10 Year Anniversary”.

Heike Helmrath, Business Development, Kuhne + Nagel, a repeat participant: “Always a nice mix of participants from venues, organisers and exhibition related people at ISU. The speakers range from professors to practising professionals, gives a good overview and keeps it lively. Koelnmesse is the perfect host venue, providing a lovely location for effective networking. A good opportunity to meet and discuss the newest trends of the exhibition industry.

8th ISU – 2018

“Customer Journey – Touring the Trade Fair Touchpoints”


ISU on Social Media

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The topics we discussed at the ISU 2016 truly changed my attitude towards customer management. The event was well organised and I had the chance to make use of fabulous networking opportunities.

— Okay Basbug, Foreign Affairs Deputy Manager, World Trade Center Istanbul (Tutrkey)

For me the most convincing aspect about the 2016 ISU, was the combination of networking opportunities, content-related lectures and workshops. In particular, the group dynamics’ and open mindedness of the other participants, as well as the speakers inspired me.

— Oscar Prat van Thiel, Commercial & Marketing Director, Nanjing Stuttgart Joint Exhibition Ltd.(Germany)

I highly appreciated the variety of subjects dealt with at ISU 2013. It was a great opportunity to look at the innovation process from different angles.

Didier Peier, MCH Group (Switzerland)

I received several stimulating ideas for my work at home.

Wu Xiao Feng, Professor Department of Commerce Management (Guilin Institute of Tourism, China)


Pictures from 2015 ISU