The Real BIM Show Live

Posted 15.08.16 in News

BIM Show Live is returning in 2017 - Rob Charlton discusses the history of BIM Show Live and is coming next!

Back in 2010 Adam Ward, James Austin and myself had a discussion about holding a conference for the emerging BIM community. This was to be an event for all of the early adopters who were passionate about change in the design and construction industry.

The initial idea came from the fact that the same group of people seemed to go across to Las Vegas every year to Autodesk University, where they would meet and share thoughts and ideas. We thought surely we could do a similar thing on home soil! To put this a little bit more into context, in 2010 BIM was far from mainstream and pretty much considered as something which would go away eventually. This was “bury your head” time!

James in particular was a little sceptical that we would be able to find a partner to work with. We asked around the industry and we had many doors shut in our face before we came across Jean-Pierre Bird from United Business Media, who knew a little bit about BIM and was able to see the potential in hosting a small event in the UK. We agreed a media partnership with UBM and our first event was born.

There were lots of things to do to get the event off the ground and to start promoting it to the UK BIM Crew (as they were now referred to!) We selected the Business Design Centre in London due to its excellent central location. Our first event attracted 120 delegates which was way beyond our expectations. Most of the attendees were friends and acquaintances but it was a great start.  We had support from a number of key sponsors and Space Group also supported the event with several thousand pounds to make it viable.   The 4-stream programme proved popular, as did our hosts David Philp and Simon Rawlinson, who became our regular comperes.

After the event we reviewed the feedback and it had been a huge success. Everyone had found the content useful and the networking of great value. With the event being a success and momentum for BIM growing we decided to hold anther event six months later. This was at the same venue but in a larger space. In retrospect, the location was all wrong in an open plan atrium. This event was popular with delegate numbers growing but we were disappointed with the venue.

We decided we needed a different venue and felt we could step things up a little with the support of more delegates and sponsors. We chose The Park Plaza hotel overlooking Westminster, a beautiful location that served us very well. This was the show which really put us on the map and was a huge success, so much so that we needed a bigger venue if we were going to allow interest to grow. BIM was increasing and becoming far more mainstream following the government mandate announcement so we felt that we should keep going.

At this point we really moved into the big time. We wanted to move north to spread the word and Manchester Central was the obvious location. It was a bold move and we were not sure if we had pushed things too far, we were concerned that the London community would not come this far north. However, the venue was perfect and it had a fantastic auditorium for 800 people with a large hall for catering and exhibition and great seminar rooms.

Our first event in Manchester was a sell out and we just about filled the auditorium. The feedback was fantastic. Not only was the content great from the community but so was the networking. There was also a lot of fun and we had regular features such as the BIMMIES as well as our now regular hosts David and Simon. We had a follow up year which was even better as everyone was now comfortable with the venue and Manchester.  However, in our third year, we felt we had lost some of our sparkle and what we had set out to achieve had become a little lost along the way.  Our goal was a gathering for the early adopters and geeks, but the event was now a monster and had become a little too mainstream as people were hungry to know more about BIM.  We also felt some of the content wasn't as good as it could have been.

It had become a commercial monster. Space Group is not a media company and we felt we needed to concentrate on our core business.

In 2016 we decided to take a year off to reflect. This year many copycat events seem to have appeared but these are commercial ventures rather than being focused on the content. For us, the commercial aspects only allowed the event to happen and were not the main driver.  It will probably surprise people that Space Group made very little profit from the event and if we actually factored in our time, then we would have made a considerable loss. However, we felt every hour of investment was worthwhile on so many levels.

Earlier this year Adam, James and myself got together once again – this time to discuss whether we should relaunch the event. We all agreed we would only do it if we went back to what the event was all about six years ago - an event driven by content where those passionate about digital construction could share knowledge without having to convince their bosses they needed to go to Vegas to do so.

So we have decided to “go back to our roots”.

BIM Show Live will return in 2017 and we have booked some great venues for 1st & 2nd February.

The plenary and classes will be held in the Crowne Plaza hotel with the catering and exhibition next door in the brand new Boiler Shop - this is the building where Stephenson’s Rocket was designed and built.

As ever, we are planning an outstanding event with many surprises for delegates. This event will go beyond anything we have ever done before. It will be smaller and less commercial, but driven by the classes and content.

Space Group have already committed a large proportion of the funding, as have a number of others but we will be looking for additional sponsors. We are also aiming for between 300 – 400 delegates which is smaller than previous years but will ensure we can control the quality.

The call for papers will be in September so start thinking!

2017 is “Back to our Roots” and don't forget - anything else is just a poor copy.

Look forward to seeing you all there.