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Are you ready for the ultimate industrial innovation festival?

26 April 2023

Encompassing the centrepiece exhibitions Design and Engineering Expo, Smart Factory Expo, Maintec and the Drives and Controls zone, Manufacturing and Engineering Week 2023 brings together leading established brands and start-ups under one roof with keynote conferences, solutions theatres, and interactive showcases

MANUFACTURING AND ENGINEERING WEEK 2023, with live events taking place at Birmingham’s NEC on 7-8 June, is living up to its promise of becoming 'the festival of industrial innovation’ with a number of new events added for 2023 including, Smart Factory Expo and the Drives and Controls zone. Pulling in exhibitors of all sizes from start-ups to established names and visitors from across the industrial sector, M&E Week is shaping up to be a 2023 highlight.

"We see M&E Week as being a festival and as a celebration of the industrial sector," says Haf Cennydd, portfolio director for M&E Week. "We are bringing the world’s most established brands and start-ups together under one roof and presenting them on different stages and in different ways - just as Glastonbury does with its established headline acts and its new breaking act areas. We will also be showcasing creativity and presenting some things which will have our visitors say, 'Well, I didn’t expect to see that!'.

Keynote Conference Programme

A major part of Manufacturing and Engineering Week 2023 is the free conference programme that will take place across two Keynote Conferences and six Solutions Theatres. Each theatre offers a comprehensive schedule of free-to-attend presentations delivered by manufacturing and technology experts. Solutions Theatre topics include: Automation and Robotics, Digital Transformation, IIoT and Connectivity, Industrial Data and AI, Innovation and Design Engineering. 

Emphasising the importance of M&E Week is the fact that on Day 1 the keynote address in the main theatre will come from Government on the topic of their plans for supporting UK manufacturing while on Day 2 the shadow government will talk on the same subject. The conference agendas include such topics as What Next for UK Manufacturing? led by former Siemens UK CEO Juergen Maier and The Story of a British Engineering Icon which looks at the story behind Triumph Motorcycles. 

Similarly, top level support for M&E Week can be seen in the make-up of its advisory council with such luminaries as Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK chairing the council and Clare Porter, head of manufacturing at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Rosa Wilkinson, director of policy at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult being high profile members. 

Those familiar with the Smart Factory event will be pleased to hear that, apart from its more conveniently accessed location, fundamentally it remains the same event with the same focus on the sector’s biggest challenges: sustainability, digital transformation, innovation, supply chain resilience and people and skills.

"Driven by expert content, peer to peer interaction and the best solutions available every aspect of the week celebrates excellence: engaging speakers, industry-shaping influencers, delegates from the best manufacturers, and the brightest emerging talent," stated Henry Anson from Hennik Research. "We bring them together to help businesses at all stages of their digital transformation, arming them with real insights from the industry we’ve been at the heart of for almost 30 years."

Celebrating Innovation

Highlighting innovation is one of the key aims of M&E Week. Made Smarter’s Innovation Alley, for example, will showcase all the new and developing technologies that will change the landscape of manufacturing over the next five to ten years. Similarly, the Innovation Village, run by the seven High Value Manufacturing Catapult research and technology centres, is an immersive and interactive demonstration area that will take visitors on a journey from fossil fuels to renewables, demonstrating the technological advances that will transform industry for a sustainable world. 

As well as looking to manufacturing’s future, M&E Week will also celebrate its current leaders be they businesses, individuals or products. A Best of British showcase will celebrate domestic manufacturing, featuring world-beating new designs, innovative modes of manufacture, products that redefine categories and export successes that plant the flag in overseas markets. 

Continuing the theme of best in class, a notable activity, moving from its Liverpool home to take place as part of M&E Week, is The Manufacturer Top 100 which in 2023 celebrates ten years of highlighting the work of inspirational industry leaders. The Manufacturer Top 100 began in 2013 as an awareness campaign to help address the lack of visible role models in the manufacturing industry. It aims to provide a platform for the most inspiring individuals in the industry, to illustrate the enthusiasm and commitment present in modern manufacturing and to underscore the exciting, well-paid, and rewarding careers that exist in the sector.  

People and Skills

Recognising the fact that the future of the industrial sector is as much about people as it is about technology is the Manufacturers of the Future programme developed with partners Engineering UK, Make UK, Engineers Without Borders UK and the IMechE. Taking place on the afternoon of Day 2 (8 June) the event enables students and apprentices, about to take the first step into their careers, to engage with the rapidly evolving world of manufacturing.   

Several other notable events taking place at M&E Week include The Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit - an executive level conference for businesses with a turnover in excess of £100m. This is a two-day knowledge sharing event that informs manufacturers on how to develop their business models in a practical manner. The event brings together professionals to share their experience of tackling the challenges they face and making the most of the opportunities that exist to ensure the future growth of manufacturing.

The Digitalisation Summit involves a variety of keynotes, panel discussions and topic-specific discussion tables, designed to provide the best value and opportunity for learning. Each discussion table is dedicated to a specific area. Delegates can choose the ones that are most relevant, enabling them to sit next to their peers and topic experts to share challenges, collaboratively develop solutions, and have questions answered first-hand.

Similar, but for businesses with a turnover below £100m is the SME Growth Summit. The event provides a unique opportunity for delegates to get the information they need from leading experts in digital manufacturing, through presentations and panel discussions. With the same format as the Sustainable Digital Summit, delegates are also able to sit down with their peers at interactive roundtable discussions to discuss and identify the most effective avenues for growth and learn how to act on them. The summit is designed for the leadership teams of UK SME manufacturers looking to increase market share, break into new markets and thrive in today’s business landscape.


Ensuring that the legacy of M&E Week continues to benefit the next generation of engineers is the announcement that Engineers Without Borders UK has become the official charity partner of M&E Week. The charity will have a booth on the exhibition floor so that visitors can stop by to find out more as well as having a conference spot for a major announcement. Senior members of the EWB UK team will also be contributing to several panel sessions.

Commenting on the partnership, Cennydd says: "Working with Engineers Without Borders UK as our official charity partner exemplifies everything we are wishing to do with Manufacturing and Engineering Week. Rather than 'just' being a group of exhibitions, we are looking to have a wider impact. Engineers Without Borders UK wishes to embed globally responsible thinking into the way engineering is both taught and practiced and with Sustainability and the ambition of Net Zero being one of our main focuses their ambitions align with ours perfectly."

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is one of the key focuses of M&E Week but there's also a recognition that with the digitalisation opportunity there is a threat. The manufacturing sector is now the most targeted for cyber-attacks with risks only likely to broaden. Visitors can discover how to defend themselves from these attacks by visiting the dedicated cyber zone with key solution providers and demonstrations.

A panel discussion that seems of particular relevance for those interested in this topic is Cyber Security – how to protect yourself and your IP in the age of IOT? This will feature a panel of cyber experts providing practical advice on the challenges all industrial companies face in the light of an ever more connected world. The session will cover how to protect your business and provide practical examples of potential cyber threats.

Fringe activities

Like any large festival as well as the main acts there are other activities going on if you know where to look and Manufacturing and Engineering Week strives to offer something different. An example of this is a focus on engineering and music with a number of activities for the music fans in attendance! Visitors will get the chance to win a 3D printed guitar from sponsors Nexa3D as part of the Guitar Legends competition.

Entrants will need to put their names forward in advance (via an online entry form) and then they’ll get their chance to enter the M&E Week soundproof booth and to record a classic song intro and a solo in a musical genre of their choice. Not only will the winner receive a brand-new 3D printed guitar but the winner on day 1 (7 June) will also have the chance to join the band entertaining both visitors and exhibitors alike at the after-party.

"There's a recognised link between engineers and the engineering mind and music. Some guitar players think it might be associated with mathematics but whatever it is there are some absolutely brilliant guitar-playing engineers out there and we want to find them. Plus, it’s a brilliant example of the versatility and accuracy of Nexa3D's resin 3D printing technology," says Nina Swienton from Nexa3D.  

Other confirmed fringe events include The Marketing to Manufacturers Night Summit and the Exhibitor Drinks Reception which is taking place at the end of Day 1 (7 June). Other fringe activities continue to be announced and it is encouraged to sign up for email notifications or to follow the event on social media because more details about these will be revealed in the coming weeks. 

The major differentiator of M&E Week 2023 is that it brings together all aspects of manufacturing and engineering. Due to this wide focus, it's suitable for a business to bring its whole team from operations, safety and maintenance to design and much more. This connectivity encourages cross functional teams to attend together, despite the fact that they are responsible for different parts of the projects they work on. Multiple divisions, be that from a small or large business, can get value from attending because there are elements of the week that are specifically created for them. Rather than focusing on a specific vertical sector, all of the content, programming and associated activities are focused on job function.

"The scale of our ambition for Manufacturing and Engineering Week is that it will produce a momentum and a focus on the industrial sector that will benefit all that live and work within it," Cennydd concludes. "By bringing a large number of like-minded people, businesses and trade bodies together, we want to influence real change in how businesses tackle challenging areas which includes but are not limited to: sustainability, innovation, skills, digital transformation and the supply chain. Plus, we want people to enjoy the 'festival' experience and perhaps even let their hair down a bit – just without the questionable toilet facilities and mud!"