Martin Hurn made a bold move that changed his career forever. The former brand director of ecobuild – the trade show for sustainable design, construction, energy and the built environment – set up the company Futurebuild Events Ltd to acquire the show from UBM.
Hurn told EN that he simply seized the opportunity. In December 2016 UBM announced its decision to sell some events in its portfolio. Effectively, the group made a total loss of £35.1m as it had acquired the event in 2011 for £51m. For Hurn, however, the operation was the onset of a promising business.
Under the new ownership, ecobuild will return to London next year with a renovated format. The show is scheduled to run from 6-8 March at ExCel London.
Hurn, now CEO of Futurebuild Events, started his career with UBM Built Environment in 2004, initially working on the group’s media brands including Building, BD and RIBA Journal in classified sales. He progressed within the company in various roles and was appointed brand director of ecobuild in June 2016.
Futurebuild Events is made up of an experienced team, including some of those who’ve organised the event in previous years. The team has been working on evolving and improving the show in partnership with the built environment industry, to make sure it delivers what visitors and exhibitors want and need from a trade show for the sector.
Why did you buy the show from UBM?
Over time people began to feel that ecobuild was losing relevance, so one of our core objectives was to challenge that. We’ve been working with industry to shape, evolve and curate ecobuild 2018, to ensure it keeps attendees at the forefront of the built environment.
What is your strategy to achieve this?
We started by gathering feedback from industry polls and surveys, as well as from our newly created Advisory Board and Steering Committee, to inform the exact shape, format and content programme of the event.
By doing this, we can make sure ecobuild 2018 is reflective of what matters in the sector now and over the coming years, and in its very nature, will mean it is different to previous years.
What is new for the show next year?
Futurebuild Events is evolving the format of the event to make it unlike what you’d expect from a typical and traditional trade show. For example, the centrepiece is going to be a comprehensive conference programme that is curated by top industry figures and focused on delivering a real action plan for change.
How these changes affect the exhibitor?
We’ve introduced more stringent criteria for exhibitors. Each one must be committed to showcasing the most innovative ideas, encouraging greater collaboration or giving attendees a valuable and memorable experience.
We’ve listened and, as part of the planning of the 2018 edition of the event, the ‘futurebuild districts’ have been developed to surround a series of ‘eco showcases’ and feed into the main conference programme, which has sustainability at its heart.
Hurn was determined to hear the feedback of the industry in order to make necessary changes to reengage with its audience, so the Advisory Board was born.
Members of the Advisory Board include big name past exhibitors, such as Portakabin, Recticel Insulation, Celotex, Bauder and The Italian Trade Agency.
The Steering Committee, on the other hand, is made up of industry’s leading, forward-thinking organisations, including the Construction Leadership Council, CIBSE, ICE, BRE and ZEDFactory.
These groups have been helping make sure ecobuild is the platform to share ideas, learn about the latest innovations and establish new, valuable relationships. They have also been providing key insights and feedback to help prioritise the agenda and offer the best possible experience for all attendees and partners.
The focus of this plan will be helping to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
What is the outcome of this process?
A clear message from the industry was that ecobuild needed to evolve and become more relevant. We’ve listened and, as part of the planning of the 2018 edition of the event, the ‘futurebuild districts’ have been developed to surround a series of ‘eco showcases’ and feed into the main conference programme, which has sustainability at its heart.
Together they will allow the most innovative, exciting and inspiring brands, companies, and speakers to not only discuss the highly topical issues facing the built environment, but also to create an action plan for change. The focus of this plan will be helping to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Do you have partners in this venture?
ecobuild has established strategic partnerships with a wide range of contributors for the 2018 event, including the UK Green Building Council, BRE, RIBA, CIAT, and ICE. In addition, each of the newly established futurebuild districts is supported by key partners.
For example, the timber district is supported by groups including the Structural Timber Association, Confederation of Timber Industries and Timber Trade Federation.
The offsite district is in association with Radar, who are specialists in building technology communications, Offsite Hub, Offsite Magazine, and strategic consultants Cogent.
What’s the target for exhibitor numbers and visitors for 2018?
We hope and expect attendance to be up from 2017. Our focus is on the type of exhibitors and innovations we bring to the industry in 2018. We truly believe that square footage isn’t a mark of success and value – it is the quality of experience that really counts.
This means bringing together the most innovative, exciting and inspiring brands, companies, speakers and experiences. Our conference and seminar programmes will be all about providing thought provoking, valuable content and an unparalleled opportunity for sharing ideas, networking and relationship building.