EXPORTING exhibits that it creates for its own use is providing a handy funding fillip for Scitech.
Scitech was set up by the Western Australian Government about 16 years ago to operate as a commercial business with community outcomes.
This means that the science centre has to find 50 per cent of its funding from other sources.
It costs between $5 million and $6 million to keep the science centre running each year.
The WA Government has come to the party with $10 million over five years and the rest of its funds come from admissions, revenue from its travelling exhibits and corporate sponsorship.
Scitech CEO Alan Brian said the centre needed to encourage visitors to come to the centre at least three times a year.
He said that meant fielding new exhibits at least three times a year.
Some of those exhibits are brought in from overseas but the bulk of them are built at Scitech.
A number of those exhibits go on to become travelling shows.
Those travelling exhibits bring in about 10 per cent to 15 per cent of Scitech’s annual funding.
Scitech director of finance and business Gary Foxton said Scitech generated about $500,000 a year from its travelling exhibitions.
So far those exhibits have travelled to Dubai, Jedda, Finland, New Zealand and the UK plus to other Australian science centres.
The export of Scitech’s exhibitions started in a small way in 1993 with its Sports display. That exhibition is currently in Singapore.
It has seven travelling exhibitions.
Since then other exhibitions the centre has toured include Special Effects and Mission Earthling.
The latter is currently in the first step of a New Zealand tour.
While science centres have been around in Australia since the 1980s, Scitech has an advantage in that it has a workshop to build its own exhibits on premises.
The Scitech workshop boasts 19 staff ranging from designers through electricians to carpenters.
Indeed, Scitech’s designers discovered, on a recent trip to the US, that they were about three years ahead of the pack in their field thanks to their use of three-dimensional computer aided drawing packages.
Because of the nature of the exhibits, a lot of the parts need to be custom-designed and built.
Some of that work is done off site but the assembly and design is all done in-house.
Each exhibit is designed to last for about five years.
"It’s a hard five years," Mr Brian said.
He said the exhibits were designed to handle whatever the average "15 year old" could throw at them.
Besides building the special exhibits, Scitech is about to undertake a revamp of some of its standard displays.
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