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Swiss firms turn out in force for CeBIT

CeBIT is the world's largest technology and communications fair Keystone

The world's largest technology and communications fair, CeBIT, is underway in Hannover, Germany, with Switzerland among the top ten nations present.

CeBIT might not have the “gold rush” euphoria of previous years, with the current downturn in the industry, but it still ranks as the place to be for anyone in the information technology business.

More than 850,000 people are expected to visit the stands of about 8,000 exhibitors from 100 countries, which are housed in 27 enormous exhibition halls.

“For many Swiss companies active in the high tech sector in IT, telecommunications and office automation, CeBIT is crucial in their annual marketing efforts,” Stephan Meier at Osec Business Network Switzerland told swissinfo.

Some 95 Swiss companies are exhibiting their products this year and they are present practically in all sectors of CeBIT, Meier added.

Swiss pavilions

Osec Business Network Switzerland has organised two Swiss pavilions, one dealing with software and Internet solutions and the other devoted to telecommunications and networks.

The main Swiss pavilion has been organised by Location Switzerland and Technology Switzerland, two organisations that promote the business location of Switzerland.

Journalist Susann Klossek at the Swiss ITReseller magazine told swissinfo that although the number of Swiss exhibitors was down from year’s figure of 113, CeBIT still ranked high on the annual agenda of events at which to be present.

“CeBIT is very important for many Swiss software producers. Swiss companies also meet Swiss customers there,” she said.

Strapped for cash

However, she noted that in general the cost/benefit ratio of exhibiting at fairs was under discussion and cost-cutting measures had meant that some of the world’s largest software producers were not putting in an appearance.

Osec’s Meier told swissinfo that the climate at this year’s CeBIT was more “down to earth” than had been the case in previous years when the industry was taking advantage of a boom period.

“This year everything is more calm. For us, as trade and business promoters, that’s not a bad thing because we are convinced that the industry is in the position to grow naturally and not be driven by the extremely volatile stock markets as in the previous year,” he said.

The climax for the Swiss presence at CeBIT 2002 comes on Friday with the traditional Swiss Day at the fair.

Thomas Borer, Switzerland’s ambassador in Berlin, is to head the delegation and visit a sample of Swiss stands before giving a speech to 600 guests invited to an official reception in the evening.

The reception is being held under the motto “Switzerland – Bridging the last mile!” Borer is expected to praise the virtues of Switzerland as a business location and mention the benefits to entrepreneurs of the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the European Union.

“We have two smaller companies that are this year’s partners at the reception. One is Schmid Telecom from Zurich and the other is KA-TE System from Freienbach in canton Schwyz. They are both offering rather innovative solutions on the so-called last mile in telecommunications,” Meier told swissinfo.

by Robert Brookes

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR