2016 Makers Festival – Review

2016 – Saturday Events Visitors Brochure
April 14, 2018

The objectives of the Makers Festival were to:

  1. Lift the spirits of local manufacturers;
  2. Change the perceptions of our local community about modern manufacturing;
  3. Demonstrate the strength of the teaching and research relationships with industry; and
  4. Showcase our manufacturing and technology capabilities to generate new business.

Importantly it brought together what some people see as the “old world” of making with the “new world” of ideas and both need each other.

The festival substantially met all of these objectives with very high satisfaction ratings by exhibitors and business and general visitors.

The numbers are impressive with:

  • 65 exhibitor stalls
  • 200 exhibitor personnel
  • 250 business visitors
  • And 1100 general visitors (out of a registration of 1650)

Heath Raftery, Heath Raftery, Head of Technologies at start-up Newie Ventures , Heath Raftery, Head of Technologies at Newie Ventures, wrote in a blog

“Last Friday and Saturday I attended the Greater Hunter Makers Festival in Newcastle, an initiative of Ai Group and a tremendous opportunity for the Hunter region to show what it’s capable of.

Every moment I spent at the festival brought another unsolicited conversation with a local maker, busy making their part of the universe better for all. I’m buzzing with excitement at the potential of this region and the capabilities we possess.

Of course, those capabilities have always been present, but like an undiscovered piano prodigy, talent can’t blossom in a vacuum. That’s what this Festival is all about for me – making connections and discovering synergies. When the dust settles and the accountants attempt to quantify the value of these two days, I hope they don’t focus on sales leads. I hope they don’t focus on new customers. I hope they give some weight to the delight I saw on streams of children discovering the joy of making. I hope they value the new links formed between local education institutions, councils and government, co-working spaces and entrepreneur incubators, manufacturers and design houses. I hope they recognise the seeds planted in the minds of budding business owners, and innovators of the future. The Makers Festival is not a trade show. It’s a talent show. And its value is in inspiration, pride and nurturing faith that the future is bright.”

The contributions by the six participating high schools, TAFE and uni students were particularly valuable on the second day and became a magnet for little people large and small. The degree of family participation was impressive and several visitors whom I know remarked that they could not extract their children/grand-children after hours of engagement! This photo captures it all. (Funny, the robot is programmed to recognise the colour pink. I am told that when a young girl showed up with pink shoes on, the robot was suddenly distracted!)

A significant outcome was the undertaking at the opening event from the Hon Scot MacDonald MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter and Central Coast, to have the NSW Government recognise the Greater Hunter as an International Centre of Engineering Excellence and to have us promoted by the NSW Government offices around the world. This can potentially put us right out there on the international scene, which we really need. It will greatly assist achievement of another Ai Group Hunter objective “to attract some large tech corporates to set up in the Hunter”. A project team will be formed in coming weeks to develop a proposal to go to Government.

Adrian Price

Regional Manager
Australian Industry Group
adrian.price@aigroup.com.au
tel 0418 640 447