A pioneering programme helping North West manufacturers invest in industrial digital technology is forecast to create more than 1,550 jobs and boost the region’s economy by £242m, new figures reveal.

The Made Smarter adoption programme was launched in Liverpool to help businesses digitalise, decarbonise and drive growth.

So far 2,500 manufacturers from across Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Liverpool have engaged with the programme, with hundreds going on to receive support through grant funding, impartial technology advice and leadership and skills training to help transform their businesses.

The Government-funded, industry-led initiative has delivered 334 technology projects in the North West, which are forecast to create 1,550 jobs, upskill 2,772 existing roles, and increase North West GVA by £242m.

These achievements were celebrated at Made Smarter’s Impact 4.0 Showcase hosted at Siemens’ smart factory which brought together industry leaders, stakeholders, and SMEs to explore the success of the programme and its plans for the future.

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Speaking at the event, Paul McLaren (pictured, main image), production director for BAE Systems, and new chair of Made Smarter North West’s steering group, praised the ‘tremendous’ impact of the programme.

He said: “Made Smarter has demonstrated that targeted support can be a catalyst for growth and a real enabler for change. 

“UK manufacturing is moving into a phase where resilience is as important as it has ever been. Made Smarter is helping SMEs create robust plans to deliver impactful results.”

Delegates were also given a special tour of the Siemens factory, in Congleton, which produces more than 1.2m drives and controls each year and achieved carbon neutral status in 2022.

The demonstration of digitalisation and decarbonisation for local SME manufacturers which included Qualkem, Firstplay Dietary Foods, IoT Horizon, Bury Black Pudding Company, Liversidge Windows, Harten Frameworks and Bloom in a Box.  

SME panel at Made Smarter's Impact 4.0 Showcase event

Speaking at the event, Donna Edwards (pictured, main image), Made Smarter North West adoption programme director, said: “Made Smarter has been on an incredible journey over the last four years helping businesses navigate the Pandemic and recover, negotiate supply chain disruption, and labour shortages, as well as focus on solutions to mitigate the energy crisis.

“It is fantastic to bring together so many of the programme’s partners and stakeholders to say thank you, to celebrate our achievements, and to share the message that we have plenty more to do to increase the adoption of digital technologies to improve productivity.”

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SME manufacturers who have benefited from the programme also shared their stories.

IoT Horizon worked with Made Smarter to develop a sensor that utilises state-of-the-art security protocols to secure sensor data, and a platform to support multiple sensors to manage the energy and environment of buildings.

Deyrick Allen, managing director of IoT Horizon, said: “What I like about Made Smarter is that it is not just about throwing money at you. It is about investing in people, the skills needed to make the most of technologies, and the leadership needed to drive digital transformation.”

Mark Bayley-Smith, non-executive director for Qualkem added: “It has been great to share our story and hear from other manufacturers about what can be achieved with the right support. My message to any other manufacturing businesses in the North West is that you can do it too. The help is there.”

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