The University of the West of England hosted the NATEP Aerospace Innovation Showcase on June 7th, at which the most innovative and pioneering small companies active in the aerospace sector were given the opportunity to celebrate and share their latest successes and technological achievements.

This Showcase at UWE was the forum for disseminating the research activities of the past two years and the positive results which have emerged from the efforts. It was attended by 170 delegates, ranging from the representatives of Airbus, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and GKN Aerospace, and the local universities, to the small companies in the vanguard of cutting-edge technology.

The dissemination programme kept the delegates enthralled with the latest technological developments in the world of aerospace innovation. The focus of attention on this occasion was on safety, efficiency and weight-saving, key factors in making overall improvements to aircraft manufacture and operation. But, in common with all new technologies, they bring new design and manufacturing challenges, and these were described in detail throughout the day. The speakers, who were all passionate about their projects and the beneficial outcomes, were happy to declare the challenges that they encountered and the methodology they had adopted to overcome all the problems so that others could learn along the way.

The day started with an account of the developments underway at Leonardo Helicopters, where the focus is shifting towards tilt-rotor and rotary unmanned air systems, both of which are fertile new platforms for revolutionary new control systems and light-weight materials.

Keynote speeches from GKN Aerospace and Rolls Royce, echoing the opening speech from Leonardo Helicopters, emphasised the value which these major aerospace companies place on the agility and innovation of the smaller companies, in order to maintain the demand for continuous improvement to secure the future of the industry in the region. Technology in aerospace has come a long in little over 100 years, and based on the evidence of the successful projects presented at this conference, the pace of innovation seems set to continue. It will contribute towards strengthening the UK’s position as a global player in aerospace technology.

The delegates departed, enthused by the brilliance of the clever ideas that they had heard, and confident that the UK aerospace industry was continuing to make significant progress, not just by embracing innovation, but by implementing the innovative ideas as quickly as possible to the benefit of all parties.


Written by Weaf

WEAF are the leading networking association for aerospace and defence companies in the South West of England. Our mission is to strengthen an aerospace and defence community that fosters innovation and collaboration, and provides a platform for growth.


We achieve this by offering critical support services, sharing best practice and enabling businesses of all sizes to understand supply chain needs, creating opportunities to flourish.