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£8m of new funding announced for SME manufacturers
A new £8m government funding package has been announced to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) modernise, go digital and create new jobs.
The funding, part of the government’s Made Smarter Adoption programme, will support up to 1,000 SMEs, across the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands, in adopting digital technology.
A pilot of the programme launched in January 2019 in the North West and has already worked with more than 1,000 firms and directly supported over 500 businesses to use digital technology to overcome challenges or access opportunities to grow their business.
The Bury-based Black Pudding Company is already using support from Made Smarter to help create the world’s first smart black pudding factory by using automation and digital tools to increase product quality and substantially reduce waste.
Wirral-based Parity Medical has used its support from Made Smarter to develop a virtual showroom for its specialist medical technology that will reduce sales team travel by 30,000 miles a year and accelerate its demonstration process from two days to just one hour.
Meanwhile, Altrincham-based Mackinnon and Saunders, the stop-motion animators who worked on Postman Pat and collaborated with Hollywood director Tim Burton, have received support to adopt digital technology such as 3D printing to keep up with larger, global competitors.
Minister for investment, Lord Grimstone, said: “The proof is in the pudding and for the companies that have adopted the latest digital technology they are already reaping the rewards. To help level up the country, we want to ensure businesses have the right tools for the job so that they can build back better and greener from the pandemic.”
By supporting the adoption of industrial digital technology, such as robotics and automation, additive manufacturing or the Internet of Things, the programme can help level up regions by enabling manufacturers to increase their productivity, create high-skilled well-paid jobs and reduce their emissions.
Andrea Hough OBE, Made Smarter commissioner and managing director of ATEC Engineering Solutions in Salford, added: “This support plays a vital role in helping manufacturing SMEs like mine understand the advantages of adopting digital technology. My own firm has seen first hand the importance of digitalisation. I have supported the pilot programme in the North West since it launched and am pleased that its work will continue and will be rolled out to three new regions to help even more businesses benefit from technology.”
The government’s Made Smarter Adoption programme includes free impartial, expert advice, funded digital internships, access to specialised leadership and management training, as well as match funding for digital transformation projects.