Industrial digital technologies (IDT), including robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT), that could revolutionise manufacturing processes are the focus of a new £20 million initiative to help the North West’s manufacturing sector.
Officially launched in Liverpool this week and backed by government and some of the world’s biggest businesses, the Made Smarter North West programme is set to engage with 3,000 SME manufacturers based in Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region to boost productivity.
Companies that get involved in the project will get the chance to access match funded support and advice regarding how these IDTs could revolutionise their manufacturing processes and reap the benefits of more efficient production.
Around 600 North West manufacturing SMEs 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.
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 £115 million to the North West economy. Embracing the principles of Made Smarter could also help to open up new markets, increase exports and create thousands of additional high-skilled, high-value jobs in the region.
This follows an announcement in the recent budget that up to £121 million of additional Made Smarter programme funding would be made available across the country as part of government’s £1.1 billion Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
As well as through the Made Smarter Commission-a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the private sector, to oversee delivery of Made Smarter. Co-Chaired by Business Secretary Greg Clark, and CEO of Siemens Juergen Maier, the Commission includes representatives from 17 leading UK manufacturers, technology companies and business representative bodies.
At the event Juergen Maier and Donna Edwards, from Made Smarter North West, were joined by Liverpool’s Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, together with representatives from Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Lancashire and Liverpool City Region LEPs and local Growth Hubs. Also present were several North West SMEs who already have developed or deployed IDT within their own processes.
As well as Siemens, who employ 2,000 people in the North West, other members of the Commission with a major presence in the North West region include Rolls Royce, BAE Systems, Airbus and Jaguar Land Rover. “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 opportunities and technologies in the process. It’s a hugely exciting time for the North West, 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,” said Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “From pharmaceuticals to aerospace, the North West manufacturing sector has earned a global reputation for excellence and expertise, with manufacturing jobs accounting for one in 10 of the region’s total workforce. With Made Smarter North West we are giving 3,000 manufacturers across the region advice and grants to give them the tools and resources needed to transform the way they do business and pioneer technological innovation in manufacturing.”
“Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we are boosting opportunities for UK manufacturing to continue to grow, and the North West can lead the way as the UK seizes the economic benefits of digital technology.”