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Multi-million-pound programme boosts manufacturing

Local SMEs will be offered support and grants to accelerate business growth thanks to a £20m 'Made Smarter' programme launched to boost the manufacturing sector across Cheshire and Warrington.

And the adoption of new industrial digital technologies will increase local productivity by 25% and grow the North West's GVA by £115m.

The new £20 million initiative, designed to embed advanced digital technology across the North West’s manufacturing sector to boost productivity, was officially launched as part of Digital Manufacturing Week.

Backed by national 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.

Cheshire and Warrington companies 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 Cheshire and Warrington 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.

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 Cheshire and Warrington.

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 providing significant funding to underpin the Made Smarter concept, government has also worked closely with industry to drive the programme. A formal partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the private sector, the programme is overseen by the Made Smarter Commission.

Co-Chaired by Business Secretary Greg Clarke, and CEO of Siemens Juergen Maier, the Commission includes representatives from 17 leading companies and organisations directly linked to manufacturing.

As well as Siemens, who employ 550 people at the Congleton Digital Factory in Cheshire, other members of the Commission with a major presence in the North West include Airbus, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce and BAE Systems.

Juergen Maier, CEO 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’s a hugely exciting time for Cheshire and Warrington, 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 by the Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub on behalf of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership.

LEP board member Ged Barlow said: "Through word-class assets like the Digital Factory in Congleton and the Cheshire Science Corridor we already have a growing reputation for innovation.

“The Made Smarter North West programme will build on these foundations and offer SMEs across Cheshire and Warrington the chance to access advice and funding to drive more technology-led economic growth within manufacturing.

"It's a great opportunity, and we look forward to working closely with local firms to maximise the incredible benefits that Made Smarter has the potential to bring to the region”.

The Made Smarter North West launch took place as part of Digital Manufacturing Week and the Manufacturers Leaders' Summit. The Summit is a national conference hosted at Liverpool Arena dedicated to the latest digital manufacturing technologies.

Cheshire and Warrington manufacturers who would like to register an interest in taking part in Made Smarter North West should visit www.candwgrowthhub.co.uk

Pictured: Liam Fisher and Pat Jackson (Cheshire and Warrington LEP), Juergen Maier (Siemens), Donna Edwards (Made Smarter), and Kerry Hall (Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub)

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