The medical and healthcare world has come to Medica 2008 in large numbers, despite the recent large decline in world financial numbers.
Some 4,313 exhibitors from 66 countries opened their booths to 135,000 visitors at the annual four day show.
Two of the 19 halls on the Messe Duesseldorf fairgrounds were full of the largely unseen information technology that is computerising how patients are cared for.
Among the 32 Canadian organisations at Medica, 17 were exhibiting in the electronic technology category: six offer disposables, consumer goods, or textiles; five design and sell laboratory equipment; and the remaining firms range from physiotherapy through medical parts and consulting services.
Medica, now in its 40th year, has become the world's main healthcare marketplace.
'About 57 per cent of the visitors each year are from Germany, which is the third largest medical market in the world,' said Stefan Egge, the permanent representative of Medica and Messe Dusseldorf in Canada.
'The remaining 43 per cent come from Asia and North America (16 per cent), Central and South America (13 per cent), Africa (10 per cent) and Australia (4 per cent).' Some 34 per cent of visitors, or about 46,000, are classified as the 'decisive authority' in picking what is bought from whom.
And another 37 per cent have 'co-decisive' authority.
Not surprising then that many companies come to launch new products.
Just as chief operating officer Andrea Fiumicelli and other senior executives of IBA Health did, launching Lorenzo.
'Lorenzo is a database system that can pull all the information surrounding a patient together in a meaningful way, no matter where he or she is, at the moment it's needed,' said Fiumicelli, as he introduced a promotional video.
In the video, a young trail biker falls off the edge of cliff-side path and breaks his pelvis.
At the instant he hits the ground, a fall alarm signals the local 911 centre dispatcher, who talks to the biker directly for a painful description of what happened.
Within minutes the nearest paramedic team is speeding in a GPS-guided ambulance to the rescue.
At the scene, a paramedic examines the hip with a hand-held scanner and beams an image of the fracture to the nearest hospital.
By the time the injured biker shows up, a care team is fully prepared for him.
'We've prototyped Lorenzo for the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain, and the basic capabilities depicted in the video are already operational in two NHS trusts,' said Fiumicelli.
Britain's NHS is carrying out the world's most ambitious attempt to computerise healthcare - by supplying electronic health records and care systems for about 30 million people in England.
What's compelling about Lorenzo is that it is so 'scalable', according to Fiumicelli.
In England, it will eventually help extend the kind of care received by that broken trail biker to a population the size of Canada's.
Also at the event, Nick Hunn, a wireless expert and consultant with Laird Technologies, gave a buyer-beware presentation about the uptake of information technology.
'The single most widely spread and numerous bit of IT in the healthcare world is the fall alarm; there are about 2.5 million of them in consumer hands,' said Laird.
'When people wearing it fall, they simply press a button that signals the local 911 service.' Despite that simplicity, Hunn's research shows that only about 31 per cent of fall alarm owners ever wear or use them.
'There are a quite few reasons, we've discovered,' said Laird.
'One, for example, is that some don't wear it because they are afraid it will break if they fall.
'Another is that it only comes in one colour: white.' In other words, if technology doesn't exactly match a user's understanding and expectations, they'll shun it.
'It has also got to work as soon as it comes out of the bag or box it is delivered in,' added Hunn.
Those words should be music to the ears of a first-time Canadian exhibitor.
The Human Factors Group from Toronto attended to promote its ergonomic expertise in designing medical and healthcare products that come out of the box user friendly.