In a bid to improve the productivity of manufacturers, the Government-backed Made Smarter North West programme was launched in Liverpool on Wednesday. Tony McDonough reports
Thousands of SME manufacturers in Merseyside and across the North West can access a new £20m fund that will allow them to incorporate advanced digital technology into their operations.
In a bid to improve the productivity of manufacturers across the region, the Government-Government-backed Made Smarter North West programme was launched in Liverpool on Wednesday.
Companies getting involved in the project will gee able to access match-funded support and advice regarding how industrial digital technologies, including robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and the Internet of Things, could transform their manufacturing processes.
It is open to businesses in the Liverpool city region, Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester and has been unveiled as part of Digital Manufacturing Week.
A number of firms based in the Liverpool city region will also qualify for more intensive business support, gaining access to match-funded grants, bespoke consultancy, mentoring and other resources which will help them to accelerate commercial growth.
The initiative is a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and leading employers including Siemens, Rolls Royce, BAE Systems, Airbus and Liverpool-based Jaguar Land Rover.
Juergen Maier, chief executive of Siemens, said: “Made Smarter has the potential to kick start a new industrial revolution for our manufacturing sector and be a catalyst for new investment in the latest digital technologies.
“At its core will be helping local businesses to innovate, creating new growth and technology opportunities in the process.”
It is anticipated that by becoming a test-bed for new types of technologies and advanced processes, the region’s manufacturing sector could generate a 25% increase in productivity and add £115m to the North West economy.
Embracing the principles of Made Smarter could also help to open up new markets, increase exports and create hundreds of additional high-skilled, high-value jobs across the Liverpool city region.
This follows an announcement in the recent budget that up to £121m of additional Made Smarter programme funding would be made available across the country as part of government’s £1.1bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
Simon Reid, the head of advanced manufacturing at the Liverpool City Region LEP, added: “Through initiatives such as LCR 4.0 we are already actively engaged with SMEs involved in advanced manufacturing across the Liverpool city region.
“However, Made Smarter will help those ambitious local companies who are keen to embrace new industrial digital technologies but are not sure where to start. Through this programme our Growth Hub advisers will be offering support and access to funding to help such SMEs maximise the opportunities offered by the latest industrial digital technologies.”
Local manufacturers who would like to register their interest in taking part in Made Smarter North West can click here for more information.