Andrea Thompson to chair Made Smarter steering board

Made Smarter, the £20m programme launched late last year to encourage the manufacturing sector to adopt digital technology, has appointed Andrea Thompson as the chair of its steering board.

Andrea is the managing director for Europe & International Programmes at BAE Systems, playing a crucial role in the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft programme.

Prior to this, Andrea spent several years working in the United States, primarily in the automotive sector, before returning to the UK to work for major names including Leyland Trucks and Rolls Royce.

In her role as chair of the Made Smarter steering group, Andrea will oversee the development and operational delivery of the Made Smarter programme.

Joining her on the board, which features over a dozen representatives drawn from manufacturing firms from across the North West, will be Trevor Cassie, group operations director of BCW Engineering of Burnley.

Trevor and colleagues will monitor progress of the pilot project, making reports that will help to inform the proposed national roll-out of the Made Smarter concept.

The board will also be responsible for ensuring good governance during the lifetime of the Made Smarter North West pilot.

Andrea said: “Having spent many years working in global industries like engineering, automotive and aerospace I know how respected and admired the North West of England’s manufacturing tradition is.

“However, much of this is down to the legacy of the first industrial revolution which started in this region. With Made Smarter we now have a real opportunity to kick-start a new era of technology-led manufacturing, driven by innovative and ambitious SMEs, throughout the whole of the North West."

BCW’s Trevor Cassie added: “With the progression of digitalisation in manufacturing there are exciting times ahead for firms across Lancashire and the wider North West, and I am greatly looking forward to being part of the Made Smarter team.”

Made Smarter is backed by the government and some of the world’s biggest businesses. It is designed to engage with 3,000 SME manufacturers based in the North West. Companies that get involved in the project will get the chance to access match funded support and advice regarding how new technologies could revolutionise their manufacturing processes and reap the benefits of more efficient production.