Lab Innovations celebrated its 8th edition on 30–31 October 2019, trumping all records for the event. Attracting 3,860 attendees - an impressive 24% increase on the previous year - this makes it the largest Lab Innovations to date. Over 160 exhibitors displayed a diverse and innovative product offering to visitors from more sectors than ever before, emphasising the event's place as the UK's largest annual trade exhibition dedicated to the entire laboratory industry.
Returning once more to Birmingham's NEC, with lab procurement decision makers making up 75% of those in attendance, Lab Innovations 2019 was clearly an event driving the business of science. It saw an increase in lab managers of 9%, scientists 9%, procurement managers 32%, chemists 65% and lab technicians 24; demonstrating a true hunger for future-proofing laboratories across the UK.
Josh Chapman, Managing Director of Scientific Laboratory Supplies emphasised the growth and quality of professionals, saying: "Lab Innovations is an unmissable event for us as we are able to meet a wide variety of lab professionals from a multitude of sectors. Both SLS and our suppliers are able to make hundreds of new business connections and showcase products to thousands of people across two days, which would otherwise take months to do. Every year the event grows and the quality of visitors this year has been second to none."
Lab procurement decision makers made up 75% of attendees
The buzz of activity across the two days of the event was bursting with business, networking and innovation. Home to a host of sustainable solutions and technologies to future-proof laboratories, Lab Innovations featured exhibitors showcasing products applicable to a plethora of sectors including food & drink, cleanroom, pharmaceuticals, academia, medical and more. Paul Vanden Branden, Director at SciMed commented, "Lab Innovations is the only show where we can display everything we do. Pretty much everyone in this room will be interested in something. Over a couple of days, we can meet existing and new clients from across the country, which would usually take us 2 or 3 months of visiting different sites."
Building on its reputation as the largest annual gathering of the entire UK laboratory community, Lab Innovations invested in a new meetings concierge service for 2019, enabling visitors and exhibitors to pre-book meetings in advance and make business connections prior to the event. The new matchmaking tool added a further dimension to the available networking opportunities to maximise value for the entire industry.
Visitors were able to source hundreds of products, technologies and solutions for their laboratories from 162 exhibitors. With so many products under one roof, novel products were highlighted in brand new guided 'Innovation Trails' which featured:
- SPECTRO's SPECTROGREEN inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES) with new revolutionary Dual Side-On Interface (DSOI) technology
- Shimadzu's Nexera UHPLC with A.I. that detects and resolves issues automatically to simplify lab management and increase throughput
- SCP Sciences' NovaWAVE SA standalone microwave digestion tunnel system for improving productivity through automation
- A&D Instruments' Apollo GF-A/GX-K series multi-functional precision balances with impact shock detection
- BRAND's HandyStep touch, the first repetitive pipette with touchscreen operation
- Eppendorf's new Conical Tubes 25mL that fill the gap between the volumes of traditional conical tubes for cell biology applications
- Appleton Woods' BioEcho EchoLUTION cell culture DNA Kit with proprietary single-step technology
Needing more time to see all the items on display, many lab professionals returned on Day Two to ensure they were up-to-date with all the possibilities for their laboratories. Alice Thomas, Chemist at EDF Energy said: "We came back for a second day because there were so many stands that we could not get through them all in one day. We came to find certain things to upgrade our lab and searching the internet doesn't do the products justice. We were able to ask in-depth questions and there is a real value to having face-to-face discussions rather than through phone or email."
The subject of sustainability in the lab remains pertinent and continued to be a big focus for the event. The Sustainable Lab feature returned by popular demand for a second consecutive year, showing visitors how even small improvements in technology, procurement and best practice can reduce running costs to make funding go further. Director of Green Light Laboratories, Andy Evans, hosted packed hourly tours in the Sustainable Lab, demonstrating case studies on smart equipment monitoring, fridge performance and fume cupboard loading.
Polly Warwick, Laboratory Analyst at Oscar Mayer, summarised the event: "It has been really, really interesting because we can actually interact with each company exhibiting. We are always on the lookout for new things to buy for the lab and someone from our company comes every year. It is great that sustainability is being really thought about now, especially at this year's show."
Expert speakers demonstrated new tech that will help accelerate or improve processes, benefit research and keep their labs at the forefront of the industry
The sustainability theme was extended into the conference programmes with busy sessions advising on the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF), the recycling of metal from electronic waste and the separation of the rare earth metals, along with the recycling of lithium-ion batteries.
With new technological developments and digitisation expanding the boundaries of research and science, the popular Insights and Innovation seminars supported lab professionals in future-proofing their laboratory and learning best practice for lab management. Expert speakers demonstrated new technologies that will help accelerate or improve processes, benefit research and keep their laboratory at the forefront of the industry. Topics included 'Combining AI and Computer Vision to Address Research Challenges' and 'Using Virtual Reality in The Lab', 'Evolution of UKAS Assessments', 'Cannabis Testing - growing pains & how to reach the highs' and 'New Approaches to the Skills Crisis'
Plans for Lab Innovations 2020 are well underway and the organisers already have more fresh ideas to grow the event even further next year. Easyfairs Divisional Director, Alison Willis commented: "Lab Innovations 2019 has been the biggest and best event to date with a clear dynamism and buzz from both exhibitors and visitors, who are keen to return next year. With over 84% of our current floor space already rebooked, the success and value of Lab Innovations 2019 is evident – we are now really looking forward to an even bigger and better show in 2020."
Set your calendars for Lab Innovations 2020, which will take place on 4–5 November at the NEC, Birmingham, UK.