1 August 2023

ICN Defence Day virtual conference event draws wide audience from industry

| Andrew McLaughlin
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man on screen at conference

ICN Strategy Director and host of Defence Day, Mike Swart in the virtual conference room. Photo: Screenshot.

Current and prospective defence industry companies – small, medium, and large – were treated to a unique event last month designed to enhance their professional networks and their ability to successfully bid on defence projects.

Hosted by the Industry Capability Network (ICN) national strategy director Mike Swart on the Airmeet online platform, the Defence Day by ICN event was a day-long conference that brought more than 300 people from all levels of Defence, defence industry, tender writing and consulting experts from BidWrite, and facilitators from ICN together in a unique online format.

The event was designed to not only provide insights into how industry might better engage with Defence in current and future opportunities, but also to engage and network with each other to potentially build future teams and partnerships.

Key supporting organisations included the Department of Defence – Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG), Office of Defence Industry Support (ODIS), ASC, BAE Systems, SAAB, and Varley.

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The program covered 10 sessions. Keynote speaker for the event was Defence’s Assistant Secretary, Australian Industry Capability (AIC) Delivery, Ms Jane Wood, followed by the Assistant Secretary of Office of Defence Industry Support (ODIS) Ms Judy Dennison, while a broad range of other speakers came from SAAB Australia, ODIS, ASC, BidWrite, BAE Systems Australia, Varley and Varley Defence, AIDN, Defence Jobs Queensland, and from ICN.

“We ended up getting four of the significant primes, and two assistant secretaries from Defence, which was brilliant,” Mike Swart told Region.

“The planning was done over three months, including working with all our internal stakeholders in the national offices to get the sponsors and presenters.”

The event featured virtual booths for companies, much like at a trade show where event participants could attend virtual meetings, supplier briefings or networking sessions. Companies were able to host videos, key links to their websites, LinkedIn pages and social media, and contact information.

“The format allowed people to jump in and out, or even have it running on the side while you were in your office,” Swart said. “There was a lot of functionality that people were playing with during the day.”

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The Defence Day event also saw companies attend who may not have previously thought about engaging with Defence.

Steve Krsticevic from Sydney-based permeable paving company, Waterpave NSW attended his first defence industry event. “I heard about it from a friend who works in audio visual gear and works with Defence,” he told Region.

“Ours is a boutique concrete product, so I wasn’t sure what application it might have in Defence. But I was pleasantly surprised, not just with the people representing different areas of Defence and representing ICN, but other contractors who openly said to me, ‘There’ll be projects at various bases that could do with your concrete, so don’t give up’.”

Krsticevic said he was relieved the format wasn’t ‘death by PowerPoint’. “ICN and the Airmeet platform were half of the success of the day, but the other half was the quality of the speakers, and how simply they explained their sector and what they do,” he said. “They were all captivating.

“I picked up a great lead from someone from ICN who said they not only do defence projects, but they also help tier 1 and tier 2 builders source products for their contracts,” he said.

“And in one of the breakout rooms I met a prime builder who wanted to know more about my product,” he added. “We have since got chatting, he’s asked me for my capability statement, and things are underway for a couple of potential projects.”

Those who attend trade conferences know that numbers inevitably dwindle throughout the day, but Swart said Defence Day was able to retain more than 80 per cent of its total logged on audience throughout the entire day of the presentations.

“The feedback we’ve had from all of the primes has been overwhelming, not just about the positive audience engagement and how well it was run, but also the format and the production company,” he said.

“The feedback unanimously was it was an extremely successful day, and one of the best online sessions they’ve ever had, so that’s great to hear.

“Did it meet our goals? 100 per cent! Over and above – we were very happy with the event.”

Find out more about ICN here

Original Article published by Andrew McLaughlin on Riotact.

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