International Business Festival 2018




Ian Hughes
13 October 2017

Man’s love of making things has always taken us to extraordinary places, giving birth to industry itself and taking us from nomadic hunter-gatherers to space-conquering masters of the universe.

Taking things and making them better is part of what makes mankind so successful. Our species may have stopped evolving, but our ingenuity, creativity and sheer balls-out bravery, when it comes to manufacturing, keep enabling us to achieve our goals and set ever-ambitious new ones.

Manufacturing isn’t just a  business sector. It's evolution charts our success as a species and can transform any business, across any industry - including yours.  That’s why the free Smart Factory Expo - Digital Manufacturing Show, is an essential event for any company that's serious about looking and getting ahead.

Taking place at Exhibition Centre Liverpool, from the 15 – 16 November 2017, the event’s main target audience is, of course, companies within the manufacturing sector. But wait - before you switch off - the programme, themes, and benefits of attending have a much broader appeal. We caught up with event organiser Nick Hussey, Development Manager at Hennik Group, to discover more.

Nick, tell us about the event.

“It’s the UK’s largest digital manufacturing show; a giant showcase for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, attended by more than 4000 major manufacturers and companies, including Siemens, Rolls Royce, Dell, BAE systems and GlaxoSmithKline.

“But it’s not all about the big boys, smaller SMEs can be just as revolutionary and when these minds and technologies come together and share ideas great things can happen. Businesses come to see what’s new, to network and to use the latest manufacturing news and developments to advance their own business.”

Nick Hussey

[Nick Hussey, Development Manager at Hennik Group]

Sounds intriguing. What kind of format does the event take?

“Right, first there’s the Technology Zones. This year they’ll be looking at smart factories, industrial automation, industrial internet and digital transformation. This is the part of the show where people not only get to see the latest manufacturing technology in action but also learn a little about the impact that tech is having within the sector.

“Next up is our ‘Solutions Theatre’. It investigates the same categories as our technology zones, but it’s a conference style, workshop-based platform, for teams of people. What’s great is that it presents a really engaging learning opportunity that aims to inspire and entertain people as well as impart knowledge.

“Our Innovation Alley focusses on showcasing the best manufacturing innovations from across the UK. It’s a place where ideas, energy and opportunity combine, to bring people the best of British manufacturing today.

“But it’s not just a showcase, it also gives our nation’s most promising manufacturing-focussed start-ups the chance to pitch their ideas and build partnerships with digitally-minded manufacturers.”

So it's pretty action-packed?

“It is. It always has a very lively atmosphere and people get really excited by the technology and how it is being used. People in and outside the sector have a great interest in things like artificial intelligence, automation and robotics and machine to machine technology so people tend to get really engrossed, which is what we want.”


What makes the event such a success, in your eyes?

“I think the format works and we’re genuinely focussed on driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution forward, so we have a clear ambition for what we want to achieve. But really, I think it’s also down to the strength of the manufacturing sector itself.

“Leading manufacturers are always keen to be involved and the feedback we receive is that, through our event, they gain genuine insight into an ever-changing sector. So, a large part of our success comes from our close relationship with the industry, it’s this fundamental connection that really helps our event soar.”

What else can people expect this year?

“This year we're hosting our event in Liverpool, which is really exciting because the digital manufacturing sector is so strong here and peopel are so passionate about business.

"We also have a really cool competition, that I think people are going to love. It’s called ‘Hack & Pitch’ and it combines the best of hackathon and a pitching event to create something new.

“It’s all about real engineers, tackling real problems, in real time. We’re challenging small and medium-sized companies to create disruption, by altering processes, to enable things to work faster, smarter, reduce cost and increase customer satisfaction. The results will play out live on the show floor, over the two days and I think people will really get a kick from seeing what these guys come up with.”

What’s the biggest challenge with putting on an event like this?

 “Really, it’s helping businesses to understand the opportunities that the event presents. It’s tough when you’re in business, especially to find the time for a day out of the office, I get it. But it’s important to always be looking forward, searching for new opportunities and this is the time to do it.

“For British manufacturing, we are right on the cusp of a true revolution. Industry 4.0, embedded technology and the internet of things are making manufacturing a totally different entity than it has been for decades.

How do you combat this challenge?

“What’s important, for us, is that we look at the technology, not just in terms of its technical achievement, but in terms of how it benefits people and how it improves their lives. This helps us to show people how vital and how transformative the sector really is, it’s just incredible, when you think about it.”

What would you say to businesses who are considering attending?

“Our event presents a massive opportunity and it’s completely free to register. Businesses of all shapes and sizes need to know what’s out there, what manufacturing can do now and how they can directly benefit from it.

“Taking something, developing it, building on it and making it better for people, that’s what both manufacturing and business is. The two go hand-in-hand and our event brings this synergy to life in a really interesting and quite revolutionary way.”

Sounds like an event that’s made for us. If you want to know where the world is heading and how your sector could soon benefit from advances in manufacturing, head to the free Smart Factory Expo - Digital Manufacturing Show.


For more information visit the Smart Factory Expo - Digital Manufacturing Show website here.

Invest Liverpool are taking a stand at this event. You can read more about it here. 

Read More about our Festival

Related stories


    01 March 2017 Ian Hughes

    30 March 2017 By Nathan Alemany, Head of Marketing, 2018 International Business Festival


Festival Partners