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Greater Manchester manufacturing boost as ‘Made Smarter’ programme achieves government backing to continue’


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

The Made Smarter North West 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 Greater Manchester 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.”

Since it was launched two years ago, the North West technology adoption pilot has engaged with more than 350 businesses in Greater Manchester to help them introduce digital tools and technologies to boost productivity and growth, and navigate the impact of Covid-19.

More than 150 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.

Businesses have secured £885,000 matched funding for 47 projects, leveraging £2.2M of private sector investment.

The technology adoption projects are forecast to deliver an additional £33M in gross value added (GVA) for the Greater Manchester economy over the next three years, create 198 new jobs, and upskill 464 existing roles.

Juergen Maier, Co-Chair of Made Smarter UK and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (GM LEP) board member, said: “The continuation of the Made Smarter Adoption pilot is fantastic news for manufacturers across Greater Manchester and the wider North West, as well as the new regions its benefits will spread to through this roll-out. The programme has already had an enormous impact, transforming businesses while bringing wider benefits for the environment and the economy.

“In Greater Manchester, Made Smarter is a key part of a broader strategy being led by the Graphene, Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Alliance (GAMMA). We want the city-region’s manufacturing sector to be world-leading, and increased innovation and productivity are crucial to that ambition.

“Businesses that embrace digital tools will become more resilient, sustainable and productive, creating new jobs and opportunities and helping to drive our post-Covid economic recovery.”

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.

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 and clothing manufacturer Creative Apparel, based in Stockport. Others include: Fabricon Design (Ashton Under Lyne), Arden Dies (Stockport), Bindatex (Bolton), Crystal Doors (Rochdale), and Starlight Bedrooms (Bolton). 

For more information about the programme and the conference visit https://www.madesmarter.uk

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