Miniature automation labs, 3D printers, VR demonstrators, and more!

NAAME was delighted to give its regional AME innovators and entrepreneurs an opportunity to come together and journey into Industry 4.0 at last Thurdsday’s Evolution conference.

The NAAME team would like to thank the West Suffolk College team for their outstanding support, the event sponsors Mills & Reeve, and all the speakers and exhibitors who made the day such a success.

Here’s a roundup of what went on at the event – please add your own highlights in the comments below.


Inspiring Speakers

As well as welcoming us to the event, Chairmen Simon Coward and Jamie Thums also announced the publication of a draft Sector Growth Strategy developed by NAAME. Views on this strategy are welcome and get in touch with NAAME Co-Ordinator, Matt Looker, with any comments at

Chairman of New Anglia LEP Doug Field engaged in a lively discussion with local businesses that highlighted the importance of active communication between business and government through groups like NAAME. New recommendations and developments to support the local skills supply chain were highlighted by Martin Collison and Rob Skinner, before rounding off the morning with an inspiring talk by David Morgan of MSF Technologies about how he’s leading his business’s meteoric rise.

The global potential of Norfolk and Suffolk’s AME sector was explored further through talks from Innovate UK’s Lampros Litos and James Gillespie from the Department for International Trade, with a personal perspective of international business offered by Henk Koopmans, CEO of Huawei UK R&D.

The last speaker session was focused on that key issue of the moment, productivity. We had perspectives from two leading researchers, Professor Rui Chen of Loughborough University and Filomeno Martina of Cranfield University, along with some great commercial insights from Ben Sturgess of Pathfindr, Paul Grenyer of Naked Element, and Will Bridgman of Warren Services.

Innovative Exhibitors

Outside of the main talks, the exhibitor spaces were fizzing with innovation, with real demonstrations of cutting-edge tech from Festo, Eagle Labs, Practeria, Pathfindr, and PRODPOINT.

A diverse set of businesses also set out their stall, with Naked Element, Wellton BD, and event sponsors, Mills & Reeve sharing how their solutions can help boost productivity.

A snapshot of the region’s AME business support was also engaging closely with the delegates, with BEE Anglia, Enterprise Europe Network, the Institute for Manufacturing, the Manufacturing Growth Programme, and Innovation New Anglia offering advice, innovation platforms, and other support.

Breakout Sessions

Breakout sessions during the day explored the exciting emerging sectors that will provide the future of AME, including biotech, clean tech and smart tech, led by the Hethel Innovation team; and the afternoon sessions saw delegates join workshops on skills, innovation and productivity.

Next Steps

  • As this Evolution conference finishes, preparation for the next one begins! Evolution 2019 will be at College of West Anglia in mid-February of next year. Email Aby at to express your interest in attending, speaking or exhibiting!
  • A draft of the Sector Growth Strategy will soon be available for consultation – the more engagement we have with the sector, the better it will be, so please read it and get in touch once it has been put up on the NAAME website.
  • If you enjoyed our Innovation breakout session or are interested in unlocking your business’s innovation potential, come along to one of the upoming  Innovate Business workshop sessions. Series start on 21 March and 29 May.
  • We’re planning to continue NAAME’s momentum and growth by opening new Manufacturing Groups in Suffolk, in Bury St Edmunds / Haverhill and Ipswich. If you’d like to be a founder member of those Groups, email us at