The Made Smarter initiative is helping SMEs adopt new digital technology and join Industry 4.0.
Since launching two years ago, the North West technology adoption pilot has engaged with 1,131 businesses to help introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth, and navigate the impact of COVID-19.
542 manufacturers have received intensive support including expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business, a leadership programme, and funded digital technology internships.
126 businesses have secured £3.2 million matched funding for 155 projects which are worth £12.6 million after private sector investment.
These technology adoption projects are forecast to deliver an additional £118.9 million in gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy over the next three years, create 761 new jobs, and upskill 1,585 existing roles.
Some manufacturers are developing projects using technologies which enable them to integrate systems, capture and analyse data, and even create simulations of their plants and processes. Others are using 3D printing, automation, and robotics to solve business challenges and meet increased demand.
Over 80% of SMEs working with Made Smarter to adopt cutting-edge technologies have seen a boost in productivity, and more than 25% reduced their carbon emissions. Businesses will also benefit from increased revenue, profits and exports, and lower energy bills.
Juergen Maier, chair of Made Smarter, said: "I am delighted to see the positive impact that Made Smarter’s adoption pilot is having on individuals, businesses, the environment, and the UK economy.
“In the tumultuous times we face, it can be tempting to simply cut costs rather than invest. Yet, in the long term, this approach runs the risk of businesses getting left behind. For the UK manufacturing sector to thrive and become a world leader, we need to ﬁnd ways to encourage innovation and the adoption of digital technologies.”
As well as technology, Made Smarter has supported manufacturers to develop digital strategies and new skills.
91 manufacturers are targeting growth through innovation using Made Smarter’s digital transformation workshop process, a rapid and bespoke process designed to accelerate manufacturing growth by identifying digital tools and technologies that can maximise operational processes and enhance business growth.
64 of the region’s business leaders are now equipped with the vision and the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing through the Made Smarter Leadership programme, in partnership with Lancaster University and now also delivered by the University of Liverpool and Manchester Metropolitan University.
31 manufacturers have benefited from Made Smarter’s digital technology internships which offer students and graduates paid placements to work on live technology projects. Some have even secured jobs following their placement.
Donna Edwards, North West pilot programme director at Made Smarter, said: “Over the last two years the pilot has proven the value technology can bring to the manufacturing sector.
“We have helped hundreds of North West makers start their digital journey by providing them with specialist advice to help them select the right approach, level of investment and tools for their business.
“We have seen huge success with Made Smarter-supported businesses reporting growth, productivity and efficiency gains, job creation and high-value jobs. We’re also playing a crucial role in helping the UK reach its ambitious aim of net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.
“Reaching 155 funded projects which will support 126 businesses create over 750 new jobs and the upskill almost 1,600 existing roles is a tremendous achievement.
“We are determined to continue reaching out to the region’s SME manufacturers to connect them to the tools that will make an everyday difference to their businesses. I would encourage manufacturers to contact Made Smarter to ensure they don’t miss out.”
Made Smarter www.madesmarter.uk