Oi20: Set for London in March
Oceanology International prepares to mark its half-century in style: Oi London 2020 event builds upon a wealth of previous successes to herald a new chapter in ocean science and technology
Much has (and hasn’t) changed in the half-century since Oceanology International staged its first, comparatively low-key event in the UK city of Brighton. The inaugural Oi expo attracted a small but dedicated band of 600 exhibitors and visitors, and merited a brief, typically upbeat mention in a Pathé newsreel of the day. However, if the optimistic reportage of the 1960s feels a world away from the grave environmental and economic portents of today, it should be borne in mind that Oi is not only still with us, but now has more influence than ever as an industry-supporting champion of beneficial ocean science and technology innovations – and that in itself should be cause for celebration.
Oi 2020, a special 50th anniversary presentation, will be held in the long-running exhibition and conference’s habitual UK venue, ExCel London, on March 17-19, 2020. Indicative of the franchise’s still snowballing global profile, Oi has now made strong inroads into new international markets with the introduction of sister expos in China and the Americas (since 2013 and 2017 respectively), plus a forthcoming series with a Middle Eastern and Indian Ocean focus, due for launch in Abu Dhabi in September 2020. This impressive expansion is reflected by the way the numbers are already stacking up for the London 2020 event: more than 8,000 visitors are expected, making this landmark show the largest undertaking in Oi’s history.
Accordingly, organisers Reed Exhibitions have commandeered 17,000+m2 of floorspace in ExCel London to make room for over 500 exhibiting companies and organisations from 70 countries. USV supplier OceanAlpha Group Ltd (stand G450) is just one example of companies well placed to take advantage of the ExCel’s proximity to the Royal Victoria Dock for the staging of on-water product demonstrations. OceanAlpha will be displaying its M40 and M80 hydrographic survey boats and ME40 bathymetric survey boat, having developed more than 25 USV models in the decade since the company’s launch in 2010.
In comparison to the last Oi London event in 2018, twice as many companies will be using the waterside location in 2020 for product demonstrations. Other exhibitors with watercraft to publicise include Bibby HydroMap (stand E301), which will be extolling the capabilities of its Bibby Athena and Bibby Tetra semi-SWATH coastal survey vessels as well as its d’ROP bathymetric survey and inspection system, and Ocean Aero (stand A160), whose Submaran is the first hybrid wind and solar-powered surface and subsurface vessel specifically designed for long-term ocean observation and data collection.
Meanwhile, Oi London 2020’s conference itinerary is also taking shape with the inclusion of dedicated content programmes such as the Spotlight Theatre, providing exhibitors with an outlet to discuss their new products and technologies, and Near and Far Markets, in which company representatives can receive advice on reinforcing trade arrangements with overseas partners and optimising the commercial value of their export strategies.
The expo will also see the return of the popular Catch The Next Wave feature (Thursday, March 19, 2020), wherein speakers will celebrate the many ways in which the mutually supportive disciplines of science and exploration have benefited the world’s oceans since Oi’s inception half a century ago, while focusing on trends and concepts which illustrate how responsible, sustainable ocean industries may be evolving over the next 50 years.
Catch The Next Wave follows on from another of Oi’s keenly-anticipated one-day content and networking events, the Ocean Futures Forum (Tuesday, March 17, 2020), which will touch upon topics such as autonomous shipping and regional perspectives in the course of presentations committed to strengthening the development of a tenable Blue Economy. Confirmed speakers at the time of writing include Martin Visbeck, President of The Oceanographic Society, and Mark Spalding, President of The Ocean Foundation.
Additionally, all three days of the event will be filled as always with free-to-attend technical conferences covering all maritime sectors: a mine of concentrated information and insights bringing delegates up to speed with the latest advancements in critical areas of technology. For 2020, conference threads will include Hydrography, Geophysics & Geotechnics, examining cutting-edge data collection, processing and analysis techniques in offshore site studies; Unmanned Vehicles & Vessels, looking at the most recent (and forthcoming) advances in robotics, AUVs. ASVs and ROVs; and Ocean Observation & Sensing, through which attendees will learn about the ever-more accurate and sophisticated instruments and techniques which are now being used for monitoring ocean and atmospheric physics, chemistry, biology, and genomics.
“Perhaps the most defining attribute of this highly-anticipated 50th anniversary Oi event is the fact that the celebratory aspect doesn’t merely involve the ocean technology community congratulating itself on its collective achievements over the last 50 years, but is woven into planning positively for the planet’s future as the expo’s exhibitors and speakers have always done,” says David Ince, Event Director, Reed Exhibitions. “We are witnessing a major cultural shift in the way the ocean environment is perceived in the wider world, at the same time as digitalisation is transforming working practices across the entire maritime sector. The collaborative commercial and conceptual networks that Oceanology International has helped to forge have been significant drivers for change for five decades now, and it’s genuinely heartening to see a broader recognition of the efforts which are being made to secure the sustainability of our oceans. It has never been more urgently important for technologists, corporate bodies and governments to work together in this regard, and at Oi London 2020 visitors will see first-hand how inspirational new synergies continue to bring about practical solutions.”