Smart Factory Expo 2023: putting manufacturing at the heart of the future

Posted on: 17/07/2023

Smart Factory Expo is an industry leading manufacturing exhibition showcasing the latest digital innovations in technology, processes and thinking beyond Industry 4.0.

The 2023 Expo took place on 7th and 8th June at the NEC, Birmingham. The showcase delivered as part of Manufacturing and Engineering Week 2023 was brought to us by The Manufacturer, and produced by Hennik Research and Nineteen Group.

Made Smarter Innovation’s involvement is a pivotal part of the show’s success every year. With the help of Innovate UK, Innovate UK KTN and Made Smarter Innovation, the show strives to bring together UK manufacturers with companies developing digital solutions.

Made Smarter Innovation Alley and the Innovation Village areas were buzzing at this year’s show. Alongside these two exciting areas, the Innovation Stage hosted a range of speakers focused on creating innovation within manufacturing to drive change. Our very own Megan Ronayne (Head of Industrial Technologies & Manufacturing at Innovate UK KTN) and Agnes Wamagui (KTM Robotics & AI) were chosen to present / be a panellist by the IfM and Women in Manufacturing initiatives, during the show’s D&I related sessions. This was a fantastic example of someone from manufacturing and someone from digital technologies coming together to shape businesses, and inform them of the importance of having inclusive technologies and diversity within their people.

Made Smarter Innovation Alley

Made Smarter Innovation Alley, supported by Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN, showcased 40 of the UK’s most innovative, disruptive SME businesses over the 2 days to an entire cohort of manufacturers. The Alley connected the ecosystem of stakeholders looking to engage with early-stage digital technology businesses.

This year, the companies exhibited their work in digital technologies; everything from online AI monitoring platforms of supply chains / product manufacturing to software tools and VR capabilities to physical modular robots.

Companies on the Alley benefited from the wide network of partners, decision makers and buyers who attended the show, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with other exhibitors on the Alley to explore future opportunities.

You can watch the highlights reel and interviews with some of the businesses on this year’s Innovation Alley below. (Click this link to see the full playlist on YouTube.)

Innovation Village & Innovation Stage

Innovate UK’s Innovation Village showcased leading edge innovation in low-carbon advanced manufacturing. The area featured services of Innovate UK as well as information on investment support, funding opportunities, and speakers, who are leaders in their industry. Attendees had the chance to network and speak with people from the Innovate UK system, such as Innovate UK KTN, Innovate UK Edge, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC) and the Made Smarter funded Research Centres and Innovation Hubs. The Innovation Village featured four key areas believed to be fundamental to capitalise on huge opportunities for the UK to become a world-class destination of choice for advanced low-carbon manufacturing. These areas were: Net Zero, Resilience in Supply Chains, Digitalisation, and Skills.

There were some really interesting presentations taking place across the 2 days. We heard from Brian Holliday, Managing Director of Siemens about the role of digital in manufacturing and the importance of digital innovation for the future of manufacturing. Paul Gadd, Deputy Director, Land & Maritime Transport, Materials and Manufacturing at Innovate UK introduced the Innovate UK materials and manufacturing vision 2050 and how the UK needs to be net zero and resource efficient; resilient and responsive; technologically advanced and digital. And Justin Cross, Director of Innovation Practice at the Digital Catapult, launched the brand new Made Smarter Innovation Sustainability in Manufacturing Accelerator.

Smart Factory Expo is one of the main events in the manufacturing calendar, showcasing the latest digital innovations in technology, processes and thinking behind industry 4.0. It was great that Innovate UK, Made Smarter Innovation and the HVM Catapult and our partners played such a pivotal role in helping to showcase that innovation and provide routes for organisations looking to start that journey.

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