A trailblazing programme that has backed 2,500 North West manufacturers to adopt new digital technology and skills to create growth and jobs has secured £6.1m funding to continue for three more years.

Made Smarter has helped SMEs start their digital journey by providing them with specialist advice and a digital roadmap to help them select the right tools for their business.

More than 250 of them, supported by matched funding, have invested in new technology, ranging from software and sensors to robotics and extended reality, to become more efficient, build resilience, increase their productivity and grow sustainably.

Made Smarter Industry 4.0 pilot to expand across North and Midlands

As a result, these manufacturers are set to create 1,250 new jobs, upskill almost 2,300 existing roles, deliver an additional £176m in GVA to the region, and help the UK meet its net zero target by 2050.

Now with a further £6.1m funding from the government, Made Smarter can accelerate its drive to support hundreds more SME manufacturers in Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Liverpool City Region, to embrace the Industry 4.0 movement.

Meanwhile, as a result of the trailblazing work in the North West, the national roll out of the Made Smarter adoption programme has continued, and now includes the West of England and East Midlands. They join the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands regions.

Alain Dilworth, programme manager for the Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, said: “Our rallying call to manufacturers is that digital technologies offer businesses opportunities to build resilience, innovate and transform. Digital tools can help manufacturers make marginal savings, set themselves apart from competitors in a volatile time, and make products quicker, affordable and more efficiently.

Manufacturers ‘must digitalise to survive, recover and grow’

“This new funding means we can renew our ambition to reach out to the region’s SME manufacturers to connect them to the tools that will make an everyday difference to their businesses, build resilience and enable them to keep up with a fast-moving industry.”

Made Smarter’s team of expert advisors pinpoint ways that the programme can support a company’s digitalisation including skills and leadership development, and recommending the correct technology to invest in.