The IET Savoy Place, London hosted the InterAct Network’s second Annual Conference on 3rd October, 2023, bringing together a wide range of industry leaders, policy influencers, and academic experts. The central theme of the conference, “How do we create the digital manufacturing future we want?” provided a catalyst for discussions from 13 expert speakers who came together to deliver their unique insights on the challenges and opportunities for the future of manufacturing.
The conference began with an introduction from InterAct Co-director Professor Jillian MacBryde and ESRC Deputy Director of Impact and Innovation, Melanie Knetsch. Discussing the motivations and philosophy behind funding the InterAct Network, Melanie said: “What became apparent when we were first conceptualising the Made Smarter Challenge, was that this was more than just an R&D challenge. If you’re going to really understand manufacturing and support digital transformation you need to take a step back and understand the businesses, the structures, the people, the management, the training, and the skills involved within that.
“We needed to be able to bring people together who haven’t worked together before and adopt this multi-sector approach. That’s why it has been an absolute pleasure to watch it [InterAct] grow and develop over the last two years as a community has come together.”
The morning session then continued with talks from Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), who kicked off proceedings by offering insights into the future of work, emphasizing the pivotal role of human resources in shaping the workforce of tomorrow.
Ben Armstrong, Executive Director of MIT’s Industrial Performance Center, then delved into the benefits and potential pitfalls of automation, providing an international perspective on the opportunities that lie ahead.
The session then continued to explore InterAct’s core themes: the Future of the Economy, the Future of Work, and the Future of Digital Manufacturing Ecosystems. Expert speakers shared their own unique perspectives on the broader topics, providing the basis for the afternoon discussions. You can watch all the talks here.
Preceding the afternoon session, the final keynote speaker Ved Sen, Head of Business Innovation at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), shared his views on the habits of innovative companies. Charting the different approaches some of the worlds biggest companies take to developing a culture of innovation that fosters ingenuity and market leading thinking.
In the interactive segment of the day, attendees had the opportunity to workshop questions amongst themselves to pose to a panel of experts. The panel, comprising thought leaders from diverse backgrounds, discussed critical themes and issues facing the manufacturing sector.
As the curtains closed on the second InterAct Annual Conference, Professor Janet Godsell expressed gratitude to the speakers, sponsors, and attendees for contributing to a vibrant and collaborative event atmosphere. She reiterated the Network’s commitment to building dialogue and connections, highlighting the proactive role InterAct is taking in bringing stakeholders together through events such as these.