23 Jul 2024


Made Smarter manufacturers expect to create 750 jobs

The North West Pilot’s programme director, Donna Edwards: helped hundreds of manufacturers to embark on their digital journeys

Manufacturers in North West England that have been supported by Made Smarter, the initiative that is helping UK SMEs to adopt Industry 4.0 principles, are predicting that they will create more than 750 new jobs from £12.6m of investment .

Since launching two years ago, the North West technology adoption pilot has helped 1,131 businesses to introduce digital tools and technologies to boost their productivity and growth, and to navigate the impact of Covid-19.

So far, 542 manufacturers have received support, including technology advice, digital transformation workshops, a leadership programme, and digital technology internships. Some 126 businesses have secured £3.2m of matched funding for 155 projects, worth £12.6m after private sector investment. They are developing projects using technologies such as 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality, and plant simulation. More than half of the projects (53.5%) have focussed on data and systems integration, 18% have involved robotics and automation, and 11% have involved the IIoT.

The projects are predicted to deliver an extra £118.9m in gross value added to the North West economy over the coming three years, create 761 new jobs, and upskill 1,585 existing roles.

More than 80% of the Made Smarter SMEs have reported improved productivity, and at least 25% have cut their carbon emissions. They are also benefiting from higher revenues, profits and exports, and lower energy bills.

“I am delighted to see the positive impact that Made Smarter’s adoption pilot is having on individuals, businesses, the environment, and the UK economy,” says the initiative’s chair, Juergen Maier. “In the tumultuous times we face, it can be tempting to simply cut costs rather than invest. Yet, in the long term, this approach runs the risk of businesses getting left behind. For the UK manufacturing sector to thrive and become a world leader, we need to find ways to encourage innovation and the adoption of digital technologies.”

As well as offering technological assistance, Made Smarter has helped manufacturers to develop digital strategies and new skills:
• 91 manufacturers have attended Made Smarter’s digital transformation workshops which identify digital tools and technologies to improve their operations and boost growth;
• 31 have benefited from digital technology internships which offer students and graduates paid placements to work on technology projects, some of whom go on to full-time jobs; and
• 64 of the region’s business leaders have attended the Made Smarter leadership programme, run in partnership with three local universities.

“Over the past two years, the pilot has proven the value that technology can bring to the manufacturing sector,” comments the North West Pilot’s programme director, Donna Edwards. “We have helped hundreds of North West makers to 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.

“We have seen huge success with Made Smarter-supported businesses reporting growth, productivity and efficiency gains, job creation and high-value jobs,” she adds. “We’re also playing a crucial role in helping the UK reach its ambitious aim of net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.”

“Reaching 155 funded projects which will support 126 businesses, create over 750 new jobs, and the upskill almost 1,600 existing roles, is a tremendous achievement.”

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