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The European Angle
By Pete Starkey
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Flying Start for National Electronics Week
London's Earls Court Two was the venue for National Electronics Week (NEW), held June 17-19, 2008, an exhibition billed as the UK's only dedicated electronics exhibition. Claire Jeffreys, event director for NEW, and Rob Saunders, operations director, set out to provide a total event solution for electronics professionals, and delivered it in style.
Vistors file in to Earls Court Two to attend National Electronics Week (NEW).With the underlying theme of "Learning & Discovery," NEW brought together over 350 exhibitors to present the latest innovations in electronic design, silicon, hardware systems, software design, components, test tools, assembly equipment, production systems, contract manufacturing services and distribution, and integrated the exhibition with a comprehensive seminar and workshop program, together with interactive production lines demonstrating leading-edge technologies in action.
Trevor Baylis OBE grabbed people's attention with an inspirational, sometimes quite angry, keynote address, titled "Why Invest? Inventors, Inventions and How to Get Your Ideas to Market," reflecting on the frustrations faced by inventors over the centuries in finding ways to get their ideas recognized and commercialized. From a humble background, and without much in the way of education, Baylis rose to fame in the circus as an underwater escapologist before inventing the clockwork radio in his shed. Frank Whittle, a hero of Baylis, invented the jet engine. Had his ideas received serious consideration, instead of being dismissed by the men in suits at the Air Ministry who had never invented anything, World War II would have taken a significantly different course. Baylis was critical of the general lack of encouragement for innovation and set up a foundation to provide inventors with professional support to enable them to establish and protect the originality of their ideas and to get their products to market.
Trevor Baylis OBE presented the show's keynote address titled, "Why Invest? Inventors, Inventions and How to Get Your Ideas to Market."The well-attended seminar workshops of the Electronics Knowledge Transfer Network addressed the issues facing the UK in maintaining an innovative electronics sector and how to be more successful at getting innovative ideas to market. The academic research community continued to generate new science and technology, but where was the return on the investments made by the Research Councils, and how could business leaders, designers and technologists get their products to market? A session on creativity, innovation and design, followed by another on breaking through from invention to entrepreneur to revenue, gave delegates clear guidelines based on the experiences of expert speakers.
Elsewhere on the floor, the "State of the ART" seminar program from Advanced Rework Technology covered topics ranging from design and components to production and distribution, and presentations by representatives of the UK Electronics Alliance were directed at promoting innovative thinking in electronics design.
Has anyone ever seen a perfect solder joint? Europe's IPC representative, Lars Wallin, took charge of the popular Production Live feature--fully functional production lines producing real assemblies with components ranging from 0201s to large BGAs, comparing alternative board finishes, stencils, solder pastes and reflow processes, with x-ray and AOI facilities on-hand to examine the results, and a panel of experts to discuss the outcomes in open forum.
NEW attendees take advantage of the show's popular Production Live display featured on the show floor.The well laid-out exhibition area showcased the enormous breadth and depth of equipment, materials, components and expertise available in the UK--many suppliers used NEW as the platform to launch their latest products. Visitor numbers weren't huge--no-one expected them to be--but everyone who came had a serious purpose; there were no "tire-kickers." A positive, busy atmosphere permeated the show; exhibitors reported a reassuring level of meaningful enquiries and, in general, believed that the effort and expense of presenting themselves was more than justified by the opportunities that NEW created. The central visitor hub, with comfy chairs, Wi-Fi access and refreshments, provided the ideal setting for networking in a relaxed environment.
A broad and comprehensive package indeed, NEW hit the ground running and stamped its brand as a world-class event. The level of support from exhibitors, industry associations and visitors was convincing evidence that there remains a solid and viable electronics industry in the UK.
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