Interview: Subcon and The Engineer Expo event director Gordon Kirk

subconIn less than a week Subcon will open its doors at Birmingham’s NEC for the 42nd time alongside the launch of its brand-new sister show The Engineer Expo. We caught up with event director Gordon Kirk ahead of next week’s festivities.

Now in its 42nd year, Subcon is firmly established as the must-attend event for subcontract manufacturing professionals. Why is that?

Partly because we’ve been around for 42 years. We know the industry inside out. We invest time to understand our visitors’ pain points, how these change year by year and what they need from us to stay competitive in a global marketplace, which is riddled with uncertainty but also full of promise and opportunity. Many of our exhibitors have invested significantly in machinery, people and premises over the last 12 months increasing their capacity, expanding their capabilities and extending their geographical reach, which is fantastic news.

We’ve got over 400 world class exhibitors in the hall this year

Over 3,500 manufacturers from so many different industries attend Subcon each year looking to source new suppliers, benchmark capabilities and build new business relationships throughout the UK manufacturing industry. And helping them to achieve this is what Subcon excels at. We’ve got over 400 world class exhibitors in the hall this year. Anyone visiting Subcon will find the best of British manufacturing on display alongside a wealth of market-leading international suppliers all looking to help them optimise their supply chain strategy in 2018 and beyond.

This year also heralds the introduction of new show The Engineer Expo

Yes, it does. The Engineer Expo will take place alongside Subcon this year for the very first time and allow us to deliver the UK’s engineering and manufacturing industry with a single dedicated event, which is a really exciting prospect. The show provides a unique platform for engineers to source the latest advanced engineering technology, products and services, and optimise production across the manufacturing cycle.

What else should visitors look out for?

The Engineer Conference, without a doubt. This year’s programme is phenomenal, full of truly inspiring and insightful content. It’s a three-day, six-track, 36-session programme across two theatres and it’s free!

Topics will cover everything from robotics and augmented reality to autonomous vehicles, electric aircraft, composite materials and next-generation metrology technology. The Engineer team has done an amazing job of creating a programme that really focuses on stories that will make a difference to our visitors and their businesses.

They’ve also used their contacts to secure a raft of incredible speakers: eminent engineers and industry leaders who will reveal the jaw-dropping stories behind some of the UK’s most interesting engineering and manufacturing projects, including Nadine Stech (read our interview with her here) and her award-winning Linx prosthetic leg, BAE Systems’ Henry White on technology transfer between the worlds of defence and sport, Jaguar Land Rover’s head of autonomous vehicles and, of course, our keynotes: Rolls-Royce CTO Paul Stein; and Mclaren Applied Technologies CTO Dr Caroline Hargrove.

It’s going to be unmissable.

Subcon and The Engineer Expo take place at the NEC, Birmingham, from 5-7 June 2018. Register for free at