Liverpool city region SMEs invest £1.2m in new tech thanks to Made Smarter

£20m Made Smarter North West pilot was launched in November 2018 and became operational in January 2019.

Made Smarter
Mike Rowark and Michael Rowark of Blends Holdings in Knowsley benefited from Made Smarter


Small and medium-sized businesses in the Liverpool city region have invested £1.2m in new technology in 2019 after being supported by a North West-wide programme.

The £20m Made Smarter North West pilot was launched in November 2018 and became operational in January 2019. Running until March 2021 it will inform how best to support SME manufacturers in the adoption of new industrial digital technologies.

During 2019 Liverpool city region businesses accessed £400,000 worth of funding and went on to invest £1.2m in new tech. And 62 of the businesses supported with specialist technology advice, including 10 in Liverpool city region, have also secured matched funding.

This support is forecast to deliver an additional £52min gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy over the next three years. Made Smarter includes expert impartial advice and one-to-one support and digital roadmapping workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business.

They can also take advantage of eight-month leadership and management training programmes offered in partnership with Lancaster University, as well as funded three-month student placements.

SME applicants are developing projects involving the adoption of a range of industrial digital technologies, including data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), industrial internet of things (IIoT), 3D-printing and robotics.

By adopting these technologies, these businesses benefit from improved productivity and revenue, increased exports and job creation, providing new skills to workforces, enhanced integration with supply chains and reduced environmental impact. 

The latest Liverpool city region SMEs to secure funding include Palace Chemicals (Liverpool); Bulky Bob’s (Liverpool); Parity Medical (Wirral); Diamond Precision Engineering (Birkenhead); Hi-Tech Steel Services (St Helens); and Beverston Engineering (Knowsley).

Other businesses previously revealed to have secured funding include: Abbey Group (Knowsley); Fusion Implants (Liverpool); Applied Nutrition (Knowsley); and Blends Holdings (Knowsley).

Made Smarter
Shaun Dorran, chief executive of Bulky Bobs in Liverpool took part in the programme


Simon Reid, head of advanced manufacturing at Growth Platform, the Liverpool ity Region Growth Company, said: “Made Smarter has been a tremendous success since its launch in Liverpool just over a year ago.

“Manufacturing is vitally important to the Liverpool city region economy, supporting just under 50,000 jobs and a rate of growth that outstrips the national average. However, to continue to progress we need to work with our manufacturing and engineering businesses, especially SMEs, to help them keep pace with technological change to increase productivity and ultimately drive further growth.”

During its first 12 months a series of successful events in Liverpool City Region have allowed Made Smarter’s team of expert advisers to connect with businesses operating in a wide range of sectors including engineering, aerospace, food and beverage, agriculture, steel, chemicals and textiles. 

The North West pilot is being overseen by the Made Smarter Commission – a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and industry leaders.

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