What do hybrid events, design thinking and circular economies have to do with each other? At first glance, not that much – but they were all very much in evidence at this year’s Berlin MICE Summit. In 12 Sessions and four Workshops, participants put their thinking hats on to imagine the future and develop appropriate creative solutions – from sustainable catering to waste prevention at events and emergency management for evacuating large venues. The key to finding the best solution in all these areas is one word: ‘coopetition’.

Berlin MICE sectors generating ideas together

Nine o’clock on a January morning and the Festsaal Kreuzberg hall is already crowded. The second Berlin MICE Summit has attracted 300 guests from the event sector and the cultural and political spheres. Guests include Christian Rickerts, State Secretary at the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises, and Burkhard Kieker, CEO visitBerlin. Perfectly capturing the mood, Burkhard Kieker calls the event the ‘ultimate in class reunions in the event sector’. The forum provided by the Berlin MICE Summit is a gathering of business acquaintances and competitors. Yet rather than competing, they are here to join forces, exchange experiences and develop novel solutions for a sustainable future. This process fuses competition and cooperation to create the new business practice of coopetition. The objective is to promote collaboration between all players in Berlin’s event sector – and to position our city in the vanguard of international change and as a showpiece location for conferences, congresses and events. To achieve that goal, the participants put their heads together to do some hard thinking about four major themes.

To prepare the MICE Summit 2018, the Berlin Convention Office of visitBerlin and the visitBerlin Convention Partner’s Working Group developed an open format based on dialogue. The event’s structure met with unqualified enthusiasm on all sides, with one participant praising it as “an exceptionally effective event format”. The four main points on the agenda – Internationality, Security, Sustainability and Digitisation – were each brainstormed in a dedicated set of three short sessions of 20 minutes. These were followed by four workshops to elaborate various aspects in detail, producing ideas for intercultural cooperation or innovative solutions for eco-friendly catering. And the result was a shift in thinking – thanks to the experts who encouraged participants to believe in the power of dreams.

Berlin MICE Summit – Dates and Facts

  • The first Berlin MICE Summit was held in 2016 in the old Kindl Brewery in Berlin’s Neukölln district.
  • The motto of the 2016 event was: Fit for the future – Strong in competition.
  • At the Berlin MICE Summit 2018 in the Festsaal Kreuzberg, the agenda had these main points: Internationality, Security, Sustainability and Digitisation.
  • Participants: In 2018, the Berlin MICE Summit welcomed around 300 guests from the city’s MICE sectors.
  • The next Berlin MICE Summit is scheduled for 2020.

‘I have a dream’ – positive thinking, positive result

In his Welcome Address, State Secretary Christian Rickerts spoke of the power of dreams, and his vision of an event sector developing stronger links with Berlin’s vibrant start-up scene to generate more sustainability in the MICE sector. In his session on ‘zero waste’, expert Jacob Bilabel, Managing Director of Thema 1, a Berlin-based think-do-tank, also called on those present to have the courage to make their dreams a reality. Quoting the famous speech by Martin Luther King, he pointed out that the civil rights leader “did not say ‘I have a nightmare’”. Instead, he called on us to tap the potential of positive dreams and visions. Rather than allowing problems to go around and around in our heads, Jacob Bilabel continued, we need to think in new and innovative ways – taking the motto, for example, of “sufficiency not efficiency”.

In the Sustainability Workshop, Berlin start-up CRCLR also called on participants to harness the power of their imaginations for the future: What would Superman do? How would Google solve the problem? To generate innovative ideas, minds went into hyperdrive and groups engaged in lively discussions. For guests and the MICE Summit organisers, it was a great experience to be part of this creative and positive process. As Iris Lanz, new head of the visitBerlin Berlin Convention Office, said: “In the framework of such an event, it’s wonderful to envisage Berlin’s future, promote its strengths and raise its profile.”

Save the Date: The Berlin MICE Summit 2020

After the day’s success, the Berlin Convention Office had no doubts about one aspect of the future. “We have a definite ‘yes’ for the Berlin MICE Summit 2020,” said Iris Lanz in her concluding remarks. The entire BCO team, event organisers and partners all praised the Berlin Mice Summit 2018 in glowing terms. “Nearly all participants, from the CEO to hotel directors, stayed until the end – which is a big compliment for our event,” Iris Lanz added. “And crucially, we reached so many participants with our main themes.” Then she was already moving on to the next conversation, with a participant shaking her hand and thanking her for a successful event and the creative format. By now, it is 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The event location is still full of people engaged in lively discussions, debating the ideas and results over dishes of regional specialities and to the sounds of music by Il Civetto. All without competition – but with the focused power of coopetition.