A leadership programme equipping business leaders with the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing is being rolled out to universities in the North West.

Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Liverpool join Lancaster University in supporting SME manufacturers to gain digital leadership skills to grow their organisation through technology.

The Made Smarter Leadership Programme, developed in partnership with Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), is a blend of workshops, site visits to SME manufacturers who are already on the journey of adopting digital technology, facilitated-learning sessions, and special project sprints to test new ideas.

Twenty two leaders are already on the programme, and Lancaster University is readying for its third intake, while the University of Liverpool and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) will begin delivering the programme in November.

The roll-out gives more SME leaders, based in Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region, the opportunity to learn the strategies to support the adoption of high-tech and digitally-based manufacturing techniques into their own production processes.

The programme, initially to be delivered predominantly online, includes seven workshops led by academics and business practitioners demonstrating adoption in real business settings.

Through the programme delegates will also embark on ‘sprints’ where they would test their ideas with employees from the business to build engagement and learning from each other.

Donna Edwards, director of the Made Smarter North West adoption pilot, said: “The Made Smarter Leadership Programme has been a success story, giving 22 of the region’s leaders the vital tools and insight to accelerate the adoption of advanced digital technologies within their business.

“The roll out of the programme means more SME manufacturers will have the opportunity to take time out of their business to reflect on the bigger picture and share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing, and then return to their own business and develop a digital strategy to create growth and efficiencies.”