The UK engineering and manufacturing community reunites

A round-up of Advanced Engineering UK 2021

The UK’s largest annual gathering of engineering professionals, Advanced Engineering returned to the NEC Birmingham on November 3 and 4, 2021. After almost two years apart, the UK’s engineering and manufacturing industry came together to network with partners or peers, expand knowledge, make new connections and discover innovation. At the show, it was clear to see the excitement amongst exhibitors and visitors as the industry reunited, with so many attendees expressing how busy and vibrant the show felt.  

359 exhibitors attended Advanced Engineering in 2021, 76 per cent of which have already rebooked for next year, with many of these taking bigger stand spaces than this year. With the introduction of the new space and satellite zone, the exhibition welcomed a range of cutting-edge technology and innovation, including a prototype of the ExoMars rover, a Ford transit van that showcased the results of a light weighting project, the I Go Anywhere Now (IGAN) wheelchair and a TT capable electric racing motorcycle. This year saw over 7,000 total attendees, including representatives from Airbus, Jaguar Land Rover, Alpine F1, Ford, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Ministry of Defence .

During the two-day show, visitors had access to 60 hours of free learning, courtesy of the five forums scattered across the show floor, which were sponsored by the likes of PRF Composites, MPA Group, HP, Trinity College London and Visual Components. Highlights included workshops/speeches from automotive lifestyle blogger James William Walker, also known as Mr JWW, the Aerospace Technology Institute, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, ADS, the UK Space Agency, Jaguar Land Rover, Composites UK, BAE Systems Make UK and more.

At the show, 466 meetings were arranged with the help of AE Connect, Advanced Engineering’s online platform that helps exhibitors pre-arrange meetings to ensure they have a successful and productive show. Many of these took place in the VIP Lounge, which again was sponsored by Silverstone Technology Cluster. Like the entire show floor, these lounges were busy throughout the show, with attendees desperate to meet again in person to do business.

“We’re extremely proud of the overwhelmingly positive response that we’ve had from this year’s exhibitors and visitors,” explained Alison Willis, Director of Easyfairs, the organiser of Advanced Engineering. “It’s clear that the industry loved returning to face-to-face business meetings and networking, and so many have already reported back on how many leads they generated during the event.”

“The amount of people here has been really good from a post-COVID lockdown perspective,” commented Alan Banks, manager at Ford Motors. “Seeing this amount of people around who have a common goal is really refreshing. So, it’s just fantastic to see everyone for the first time, seeing all the new technology they have and how we can apply it to different sectors. It has just been absolutely refreshing. Really, really looking forward to the rest of the show.”

Lisa Bingley, operations director at the MIRA Technology Institute said, “We’ve had a brilliant show. It’s great to be back and it’s been extremely busy. We’ve had some good quality interest while we’ve been here and we’ve already booked for next year.”

Dean Munkley, marketing manager at Qimtek, one of this year’s exhibitors, commented, “The show’s been really good — far busier than I expected. We’ve probably taken more leads than we have at any show over the last three years. There was a lovely mix of people and it was great speaking to so many. There’s such a good variety of suppliers here too — we’ll definitely be returning.”

During the show, ten start-ups competed to win the Enabling Innovation competition. At the Connected Manufacturing Forum, competitors took to the stage to pitch their innovative products before the audience and head judge, Gerald Law, crowned the winner. Matt Escott, CEO and co-founder of Protolaunch was awarded the prize for his novel chemical propulsion system that can be used to facilitate future dedicated launches of small payloads.

Following the win, Escott commented, “This is our first time exhibiting at Advanced Engineering and we’ve met lots of companies that can help us develop our technology. Winning Enabling Innovation was brilliant. We got to meet start-ups like ourselves, while also showcasing our company to lots of larger organisations too.”

Head judge Gerald Law, who had the deciding vote following an audience tie, said, “I thought the entries for Enabling Innovation were outstanding — genuinely world class and a real tribute to the organisers of the event to be able to pull so many together.”

Law, who is a regular attendee and partner as chief executive of Innovation DB, concluded, “The innovation on show at Advanced Engineering is always excellent but this year it’s even better than we’ve seen in years gone by.”

Exhibitor bookings for 2022 are already open, but with 76 per cent of this year’s exhibitors already booked for next year, space is already limited. The show will take place on November 2 and 3, 2022 at the NEC, Birmingham. To book your stand, visit

Manufacturing Update