Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The world's largest industrial trade fair, held in Germany in April, helped Wisconsin firms make connections with their counterparts in Germany and beyond.

Hannover Messe 2016 has drawn to an end after five action-packed days. With its keynote theme of “Integrated Industry – Discover Solutions,” and the U.S. as the official partner country, the 2016 edition of the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology attracted visitors and exhibitors from around the world. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama opened the show.

According to the German trade fair organization Deutsche Messe, this year’s Hannover Messe provided impressive confirmation of the event’s unique position as a global hotspot for Industry 4.0, with the latest technologies unveiled to a wide audience. Industry initiatives from countries around the globe came together in Hannover. The second keynote theme of this year’s event was integrated energy, and this is the only trade fair in the world to showcase energy systems in their entirety: three halls were dedicated solely to the complete energy supply chain.

More than 5,200 exhibitors from more than 75 countries presented their state-of-the-art products and services to more than 190,000 visitors. More than 50,000 visitors came from abroad – an increase of 25 percent over 2014. A total of 465 exhibitors and roughly 5,000 visitors came from the U.S. to present or learn about new technology for manufacturing plants and energy systems.

Of note, six companies attended the show in the context of a trade venture organized by WEDC. Matchmaking by the Wisconsin’s trade representative for the region, AHP International, resulted not only in a considerable number of high-quality meetings, but also in promising business prospects for the companies. Members of the Wisconsin delegation gained a better understanding of the European market in their product or service area and were able to connect with many potential business partners. They connected with sales representatives, end users and potential strategic partners. WEDC Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan and several staff members accompanied the trade venture to Germany. A considerable number of meetings were arranged with business development agencies and clusters from Germany, Europe and around the world.

In addition, Wisconsin and the German state of Hessen celebrated the 40th anniversary of their sister state relationship in 2016. This celebration was marked with a luncheon during the week of Hannover Messe, and with a visit to Wisconsin in May by a 60-person Hessen delegation with representatives from business, politics and academics.