Scitech lands at NASA

07/10/2016 - 09:57


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Two of Scitech’s travelling exhibitions, which account for part of the organisation’s near-$2 million export operation, have made a landing at the Nasa Science Centre in the US.

WORLD-CLASS: Gary Foxton says Scitech has a reputation for building quality exhibitions that engage and stimulate minds around the world. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Two of Scitech’s travelling exhibitions, which account for part of the organisation’s near-$2 million export operation, have made a landing at the Nasa Science Centre in the US.

BEHIND the scenes of Perth’s Scitech Discovery Centre, in a workshop out of public view, members of the development team are hard at work crafting the next interactive and educational instalment.

Meanwhile, the most recent Scitech creation to make it out of the lab, Astronaut, has just touched down at the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, a part of the Houston NASA Science Centre in the US, where it will stay until January 2017.

Another feature exhibition, Going Places, an exploration of travel technology, landed at Nasa earlier this year and is one of the 12 Scitech exhibitions currently travelling the globe, where they are seen by 200,000 visitors on average at each location.

Scitech creations have been touring the world since 1995.

Director business and finance Gary Foxton, who also manages the travelling exhibition, said of the 19 exhibits Scitech had built since inception, 15 had toured nationally and internationally, reaching parts of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, North America and New Zealand.

“After an exhibition has been on the Perth floor for six months, our visitors want to see something new and we have a responsibility to deliver that, to encourage people to come back and explore science,” Mr Foxton told Business News.

 “Our mission is to increase awareness, interest, capability and participation in Stem education (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) for all Western Australians.

 “Whatever we can do after we have achieved that, so we can reinvest those proceeds to better deliver our mission, well, that’s a bonus.”

Beyond the recent Nasa contracts is a line-up of 20 other North American science centres with bookings for one, or several, of the eight Scitech exhibitions currently circulating in the area. The other Scietech travelling exhibitions have been placed at facilities across Australia.  

Scitech has been named among the finalists in the Western Australian Industry and Export Awards (creative industries) to be announced later this month, having won that category last year. Mr Foxton is hopeful Scitech can reclaim the honour in 2016 due to its recent increase in rental revenue.

“This year’s income from travelling exhibitions was just short of $2 million, which is two and a half times what it was last year,” Mr Foxton said.

“Whether it is good luck or good management, an exhibition of the size we build is fitting into the American market really well.”

During the past year, Scitech had increased its number of exhibitions in the US from three to eight, he said.

Mr Foxton said this increase in interest was in part due to the relationship forged with US sales agency partner Imagine Exhibitions 18 months ago, which manages and promotes the eight Scitech exhibitions in the North American market.

“Historically, demand in the US has either been for small exhibitions, 100-200 square metres, or at the other end of the scale, 3,000 square metres,” he said.

“But Imagine Exhibitions has discovered a number of clients looking for 500-600 square metre exhibitions.”

Another competitive advantage is Scitech’s ability to minimise freight costs by ensuring exhibitions fit into two standard shipping containers – more efficient in comparison to other providers, according to Mr Foxton.

He said there was only one other science centre in Australia currently producing exhibitions for the international market.

“I think of all the science centres in Australia, we’re by far the most commercial,” he said.

“One of our corporate goals is to try to increase our revenue from non-government sources as much as we can, so we’ve geared up a workforce and developed a reputation for producing quality interactive science exhibitions that are world class.”

Scitech is a public company limited by guarantee and partly funded (47 per cent) by the state government, self-generating the rest of its income.

“When you are so dependent on a single source of income it makes sense to try and future-proof yourself by developing and expanding your own revenue streams,” Mr Foxton said.

“Previously we were dependent on the Australian market but now we see ourselves as on the world stage.

“I guess it is part of our evolution.” 


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