Asia's mega tech event gets foreign boost

This year's Infocomm Media Business Exchange is expected to welcome government officials from the European Commission and Middle East.

SINGAPORE--More foreign participants from Asia and beyond are expected at this year's Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX) conference and exhibition, to be held here in June.

For the first time, the European Commission will be involved in the event, partnering members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to organize the inaugural Euro Southeast Asia 2006 Information and Communication Technologies Forum. The forum will be a platform for key ICT stakeholders from Europe and Southeast Asia to discuss research, regulation and policy issues, said Stephen Tan, chief executive of Singapore Exhibition Services (SES), the organizer of imbX.

The imbX, to held from June 19 to 23, is expected to host some 60,000 delegates, nearly half of whom are foreigners. Tan added that 2,238 companies from 54 countries will have exhibition booths at the event, a 4 percent increase from last year. imbX is recognized as Asia's largest infocomm and media event, and encompasses various key industry events including CommunicAsia, EnterpriseIT and iX2006.

More Korean companies, particularly small and midsize businesses, are now taking part in imbX, Tan added. Similarly, large enterprises from China are increasingly using the event as "an export platform" to showcase their products to the world.

Another event that is expected to draw in greater foreign participation is the ministerial forum, which will be held for the second time this year. Chan Yeng Kit, CEO of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), noted that the event has been expanded to include more countries, such as those in the Middle East. The theme for this year's ministerial conference is Next Generation Networks--Opportunities and Challenges for Governments.

The IDA has already sent out invitations to 24 countries, a spokesperson told ZDNet Asia. Last year, 11 ministers and senior government officials in the region gathered in the island-state to discuss issues in voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Prominent personalities in the ICT industry invited to speak at this year's conference include Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president for search products and user experience; Angela Beesley, board member of the Wikipedia Foundation; Philip Argy, president of the Australian Computer Society; and Bill Westenhofer, visual effects supervisor at Rhythm & Hues, which was involved in productions such as Lord of the Rings III, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Besides the Euro Southeast Asia 2006 forum, this year will see three other new events under the imbX umbrella: an animation and visual effects seminar, a digital living conference, and a business forum on Singapore's 10-year ICT project dubbed, Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015).

The full iN2015 masterplan will be officially launched during imbX, said IDA's Chan, noting that some aspects of the framework such as manpower planning and a national broadband network, have already been announced. He added that the business forum is an opportunity for Singapore's government to share, in greater detail, the country's IT plans with the industry.

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