Visitors to National Manufacturing Week 2016 in Sydney last week were given a taste of big things to come in the manufacturing sector with new innovation and future technologies on show.
NMW, held in conjunction with Inside 3D Printing, and Safety First Conference and Expo attracted more than 200 exhibiting companies, 50 speakers and over 5,000 visitors.
Feedback to organisers, Reed Exhibitions, is that participants have gained new insights, information and all-important inspiration for growth in their businesses.
This year's three-day event was defined by the twin themes of innovation and collaboration: with several Seminar Theatre sessions focusing on opportunities for manufacturers to break down the barriers to innovation.
"The time for action is now," urged Assistant Minister for Science, Karen Andrews in a Keynote Address on NMW's final day last Friday.
"I know that SMEs have had some hesitation in the past around approaching the universities for partnership – due to barriers such as cost – but I invite businesses to come talk to the Department of Industry, or to me personally: because there are some real opportunities on the table, and we are keen to help business make connections that can support your growth," Ms Andrews said.
The Assistant Minister's comments were reflected throughout the NMW Seminar Theatre program: including in a Day 2 panel discussion focusing on funding for business innovation.
Several SMEs, including Marathon Targets, HMS Equipment and more, joined AusIndustry to share examples of how government assistance can help connect growth-hungry businesses connect with potential partners, and new ideas for growth.
In a separate Day 2 session, Western Sydney University's Dr Sasha Alexander challenged visitors with the observation that: "Everytime a stranger enters the business, innovation happens."
Dr Alexander went on to explain how an outsider's view of your business – from industry partners, consultants and even competitors – can challenge your assumptions, opening your eyes to new markets and product development opportunities.
Throughout this year's events, NMW and Safety First exhibitors made contact with existing and new customers from across the spectrum of Australia's manufacturing industry.
Among them was Robert Hamilton, Managing Director of Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics.
"I was surprised by the number of people already waiting for the doors to open before NMW started – and throughout the event we made a number of strong contacts,” he said.
NMW Exhibition Director, Robby Clark said NMW is the only event that brings different sectors of industry together under one roof.
And once again it helped to create real opportunities for participants.
"There is a great deal of strength in Australia's manufacturing sector,” Mr Clark said. “The feedback from exhibitors is that visitors are looking keenly at opportunities to transform and expand their capabilities – an observation that is supported by strong attendance at our NMW Seminar Theatre events, which gave businesses opportunities to collect new information and ideas for growth.
"There was a real buzz across NMW 2016, which I am sure will translate into real opportunities in the weeks and months ahead."
Reed Exhibitions has announced that NMW 2017 will be held in Melbourne from May 9-12 next year.
The show will be co-located with Austech and the Safety First Conference & Expo, as well as AUSCLEAN Pulire, the leading event for Australasia's cleaning industry