£20m funding to help manufacturers embrace digital

A £20m Made Smarter North West programme has been launched today to help North West manufacturers embrace advanced digital technologies.

Made Smarter North West launch

The government-backed plan is targeting a 25 per cent increase in productivity, adding £115 to the North West economy.

Lancashire SMEs which get involved in the project will get the chance to access match funded support and advice regarding how industrial digital technologies (IDT), including robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT), could revolutionise their manufacturing processes.

A number of Lancashire firms 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.

Made Smarter, part of government’s £1.1bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, has been designed to open up new markets, increase exports and create hundreds of additional high-skilled, high-value jobs across Lancashire.

Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens, co-chaired the commission which helped develop the programme. He 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’s a hugely exciting time for Lancashire, and I believe this is truly a once in a generational opportunity to boost productivity and create the high value, highly paid jobs of the future.”

Made Smarter will be delivered across the county by Boost, Lancashire’s business Growth Hub.

Andy Walker from Boost said: “With new facilities such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at Samlesbury, the Health Innovation Campus at Lancaster, the Energy HQ in Blackpool and UCLan’s Engineering Innovation Centre in Preston, Lancashire is developing a truly world class technology-led innovation infrastructure.

“However, the Made Smarter North West programme means that any Lancashire firms unsure about how to maximise these assets, or simply want to better understand the incredible commercial opportunities offered by the latest industrial digital technologies, will now have the chance to get advice, support and grants specifically linked to advanced manufacturing. “I would therefore encourage Lancashire SMEs to take full advantage of this exciting government-backed initiative.”