A North West pilot which has helped hundreds of SME manufacturers access technology and digital tools to boost productivity, growth and create jobs is to continue as part of a £8M government rollout. 

The successful initiative becomes part of the government’s Made Smarter Adoption programme, which now expands into the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands regions. 

It means hundreds of more manufacturers in Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Liverpool City Region, will be able to learn how digital transformation can help them recover, grow, and create resilience. 

Donna Edwards, Made Smarter’s North West Adoption Director, said: “I am delighted that the Government has continued to support the North West Adoption programme. 

“Over the last two years we have worked tirelessly to drive digital technology usage among SME makers across the North West with significant success.  

“The programme 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 

“With the additional funding, we are able 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.” 

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Since its launch two years ago, the North West programme has engaged with 1,165 businesses in the region to help them join the Industry 4.0 revolution. 

568 have received intensive support including expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take their first steps to transform their business, a leadership programme, and funded digital technology internships.  

145 businesses have secured £3.5M matched funding for 180 projects, leveraging £10M of private sector investment.  

These projects are forecast to deliver an additional £138M in gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy over the next three years, create over 800 new jobs, and upskill 1,700 existing roles. 

The success of the North West Adoption programme will be celebrated at a free-to-access virtual conference, Made Smarter: The journey to digital manufacturing, on Wednesday, March 10. 

Curated by manufacturers for manufacturers, the conference features an impressive line-up of industry heavyweights who will showcase the ‘why?’, ‘what?’ and ‘how?’ of digital manufacturing, including: Juergen Maier, Chair of the Digital Catapult and co-Chair of the Made Smarter Commission; Stephen Phipson, the Chief Executive of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation; Andrea Hough, Managing Director of ATEC Engineering Solutions; and Glyn Jones, Service Delivery Director at BAE Systems and Chair of the Made Smarter Pilot Steering Group. 

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They will be joined by a host of SME manufacturers sharing real-life stories of their experience of the North West Adoption programme including world leading puppet-makers MacKinnon and Saunders based in Altrincham, clothing manufacturer Creative Apparel, based in Stockport, and plant-based and vegan nutrition products maker Nutree Life, based in Burscough. 

Others include: Fabricon Design (Ashton Under Lyne), Arden Dies (Stockport), Bindatex (Bolton), Crystal Doors (Rochdale), Starlight Bedrooms (Bolton), Beverston Engineering (Knowsley), and DA Techs (Chorley), alongside Envirosystems (Preston), Bloom-in-Box (Burscough), Brainboxes (Liverpool), Parity Medical (The Wirral), Twin Fix (Warrington), Plastic Card Services (Macclesfield), Storth (Holme), Contactless Check Solutions (Maryport), and The Cumbria Clock Company (Penrith). 

Industry 4.0Manufacturing