£9.7m support scheme aims to unlock SME potential
A new £9.7m manufacturing support initiative has been announced to help fill the void left by the axing of the Manufacturing Advisory Service in 2015. The Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) will provide access to specialists to help firms grow and improve. It is targeting SME manufacturers in the West Midlands, parts of the East Midlands, East of England and Yorkshire and Humber.
Via a 19-strong network of manufacturing growth managers, the SMEs will have access to industry specialists and the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £3,500. They can use this support for leadership and management training, r&d, lean manufacturing, productivity, quality systems or supply chain development.
The scheme is being funded by the European Regional Development Fund and run by Economic Growth Solutions (EGS).
“Since MAS was abruptly axed at the end of 2015, manufacturers have not had access to a support programme that is tailored to their exact requirements and delivered by people who know the sector,” explains EGS CEO, Lorraine Holmes. “This has all changed with the official launch of MGP and we now have funding in place to help over 3,200 firms to tackle operational issues, make the most of new opportunities and boost the skills of their workforce.
“The programme has to be delivered by March 2019,” she continues, “so we want companies to come forward and take advantage of this assistance.”
The manufacturing growth managers will be the first point of call and will help firms to complete a business review and develop an action plan. This will highlight areas where improvement is needed and the company will be able to choose the expert they want to work with to complete the project.
The programme, which offers grants of 35% of the total project cost, is also working with Local Enterprise Partnerships and their Growth Hubs to point manufacturers to other initiatives that may be able to help them.
EGS has spent three months setting up the scheme and is already working with more than 300 companies. “These projects have created in excess of 400 new jobs and, over the course of the two years, we believe we’ll help to generate thousands more,” says Holmes. “Industry has withstood a lot of economic turmoil and come through the other side. Now we’re here to help them maximise the most of new opportunities.”