Engineering not only is back, it never went away!
That was the verdict from just one of the many inspiring comments from the visitors and exhibitors at last month’s Advanced Engineering. And I couldn’t have put it better myself. Despite the challenges of the past couple of years, this November’s event produced one of the most exciting buzzes and busiest attendance levels ever. It was clear to see that innovation has continued to thrive, even if it has been behind locked-down doors. And nothing was going to stop the advanced manufacturing industries from coming to experience its benefits in improving efficiencies, rationalising costs, and increasing sustainability – all of which are now more important than ever.
Take examples from the show’s newly dedicated Space & Satellite Engineering zone, where attendees from multiple sectors were introduced to in-orbit manufacturing and solar power harnessing technologies. In turn, space industry-specific visitors themselves had also never had such an opportunity to network with so many potential partners outside their industry. Expect this zone to grow its presence markedly in the exhibit hall next year!
Low carbon technologies including electrification, hydrogen, and lightweighting proved a particular hit with audiences eager to hear new ideas and the current state-of-play. Speakers addressing packed forums ranged from global players like VW, Ford, Rolls-Royce, and Airbus to those in more specific applications such as Alpine F1, Transport for London, and ZeroAvia. Indeed, no other exhibition appears to match this level of speaker knowledge and expertise on a show floor.
The Enabling Innovation zone’s nine start-up finalists were inundated with interest and engagement, with the space sector once again represented in the form of the overall winner, Protolaunch, presenting their novel propulsion technology for NewSpace applications. But for all those start-up finalists on the show floor, it was a unique experience to engage potential investors and partners across many sectors they would otherwise never have had the chance to meet, coming away with new relationships forging further towards their commercialisation goals.
Above all, this year’s Advanced Engineering returned us all back to what matters as an industry – the opportunity to discover and accelerate the benefits of new products and technologies not just to grow our economy but to improve the way of life for all globally, both now and in the longer term. This year’s event has indeed demonstrated that it has never been more needed.