Since the Industrial Revolution, Sheffield has been viewed as a centre of manufacturing and industry within the UK - and the world. The city is famed for metallurgy and steel works in particular, being where stainless steel was first invented, and its proud history is one that continues still today. The Global Manufacturing Festival 2014 continued this legacy, being held this year in Sheffield at the end of June.
Having begun in 2012, this year the festival coincided with the UK's International Festival for Business in 2014, which is being held in Liverpool during June and July.
This year was the biggest festival so far. With over 1,500 people attending to take part in the trade show, conference, and dinner, the festival was heralded as an international success.
The GMF took place over two days from the 25th June, and with the many well respected speakers and international delegates, it's no surprise that the festival proved so popular. The keynote speakers were Chuka Umunna MP, Shadow Business Secretary, and Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Highlights this year included an address in which the role of women in manufacturing was championed, along with plenty of other technical sessions and events covering a wide variety of subjects.
The purpose of the festival is to showcase some of the developments in the manufacturing industry, while also allowing UK manufacturing SMEs the opportunity to network with large, international companies. Organisers hope that this year's festival has given UK manufacturing SMEs some insight into new global opportunities and markets.
The festival was also intended to portray Sheffield businesses as the industry leaders in manufacturing that they are, continuing the city's reputation as one of the keystones world manufacturing and materials.
While this proud manufacturing legacy has faded slightly in recent years compared to the city's heyday, the festival serves to show that it is still a major part of Sheffield's identity. Indeed, the city is benefiting from revived interest and investment in Sheffield engineering.
Investments include the purchase of Sheffield based manufacturers Spear & Jackson, along with significant investment plans in the city by Rolls-Royce. The engine manufacturers and others have announced a £45m investment, where they will team up with the University of Sheffield in order to develop new British technology that focuses on low-carbon engines for aircraft. Such investment, and others, are likely to see growth in the manufacturing sector within the city, going some way to reestablishing Sheffield's strong reputation as innovators in the field.
We look forward with anticipation to how the city will continue to progress in the manufacturing industry in the coming years. The international interest sparked by the Global Manufacturing Festival, along with the continuing investment in Sheffield manufacturing, promises to keep the city a central cog in global engineering.