Written by Sam Sears, ADS Public Affairs Adviser

Birmingham, home of the industrial revolution, was a fitting host for this year’s Conservative Party Conference. Politicians, journalists, and industry bustled through the secure zone with only one word echoing around the room: Growth.   

The conference came at a vital time for the Conservative Party, a new leader keen to iron out divisions within her Party and steer the country through the economic challenges that lie ahead.  

ADS, with the support of Airbus, Babcock, BAE and Thales, laid on a series of events which brought SMEs, Mid Tiers and Primes face to face with policy-makers.  

The first ADS event was a roundtable with the newly appointed Minister for Defence Procurement (MinDP), Alec Shelbrooke MP. ADS’ annual roundtable with the MinDP has become synonymous with driving thought leadership and setting the agenda for the defence industry. In his first ministerial engagement of this kind, the Minister had a firm grounding of the key issues and used the opportunity to deepen his understanding of ADS member’s capabilities and concerns. The event provided a springboard for future engagement with ADS and our members.  

ADS jointly sponsored an Enterprise Forum event with ten other trade associations. Working together with M5 partners (the M5 is the alliance of the five key trade associations involved with manufacturing and others to deliver on the government’s growth agenda). At the reception the  ADS CEO, Kevin Craven, met with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng as the two built on their relationship from the Chancellor’s time as Business Secretary.

Finally, ADS held its annual drinks reception at the conference. This gave SMEs like Sunbelt Rentals, Mid Tiers like Marshall, and Primes, like our four sponsors the opportunity to come together with key MPs and celebrate the industry. We were delighted to secure three government ministers to give speeches at our reception, demonstrating the importance of ADS and our members to government. The speeches began with an opening address by the Minister for Transport, Baroness Vere whose brief covers ADS’ key sectors, including aerospace, space and SMEs. This was followed by a speech from Minister for Armed Forces, James Heappey MP, who spoke on the importance of the defence industry in supporting the stoic resistance in Ukraine. And finally, industry colleagues heard from the Minister for Industry, Jackie Doyle-Price MP who spoke of all our sector’s role in UK prosperity. Three ministers, three key government departments and a fitting way to bring the ADS conference programme to a close.  

Despite being funded solely by sponsorship, ADS events are open to all ADS members. If you would like to get involved in ADS activities during the conference season next year, please email