Manufacturing scheme generates £3m for Marches economy
A project to help manufacturing and engineering firms embrace the latest technology has seen more than £3million in value generated in the Marches region since launch, new figures have revealed.
Made Smarter is a £1.9 million scheme which helps SMEs across the West Midlands use new digital technology and equip them for the future.
Across the wider region, figures show the total three-year Gross Value Added (GVA) to companies signing up to the scheme has already reached £11.7 million from a grant spend of just over £200,000.
The news follows Made Smarter having more than 175 companies sign up to receive support, with 200 sign-ups on the horizon.
Marches LEP Small Business Champion Dave Courteen said it was clear manufacturing businesses which are making the move towards digital transformation were seeing the benefits.
“Made Smarter offers engineering and manufacturing businesses in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin access to expert advice and support from specialists in digital processes and techniques to improve productivity.
“It’s obvious from these figures that the support has not only boosted their business but will also have a wider effect on the regional economy as they grow and create jobs.
“Made Smarter is one of a number of projects supporting the manufacturing sector available via our Marches Growth Hub business support hub, with the Manufacturing Growth Programme recently reporting its support had helped create more than 20 new jobs in the Marches region.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub is leading the one-year Made Smarter scheme with the region’s hubs including the Marches Growth Hub, the business support service for Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
The West Midlands Growth Hubs are working closely with WMCA and their strategic partners Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry and WMG, at the University of Warwick, which provided the GVA figures last week.
Businesses that sign up to Made Smarter first receive a visit from experts from either WMG or the MTC, who look at the company’s operations and advise what technology could help them move forward.
A ‘digital roadmap’ is then produced, showing clear steps the company needs to take to get there. Businesses then receive further technical support from the experts to plan, develop or implement these changes.
Advice is also given from one of Made Smarter’s digital technology specialists for each Growth Hub area, who can point the company in the right direction for grant funding and other forms of support. Barry Jones is the appointed advisor for the Marches region.
The scheme is delivered on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Nasar Jockey, Principal Engineer at WMG, University of Warwick, said: “To have reached these three-year GVA figures in such a short space of time is fantastic news, and shows just how much impact Made Smarter is having.
“Having digital experts visit businesses directly, recommend new technologies to adopt and help them with applying for grants makes such a difference compared to businesses that try to go it alone.
“We are confident that we, along with the MTC, can help West Midlands firms reach more than of £15 million in three-year GVA by the end of March, and we are looking forward to visiting further businesses to help them on their Made Smarter journey.”
And Craig Humphrey, Managing Director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, added: “These superb GVA figures prove Made Smarter is making a real difference to the success of manufacturing and engineering SMEs in the West Midlands.
“Thanks to the expertise of WMG, the MTC and our digital experts, firms signing up to Made Smarter are reaping the rewards, and we would encourage those who have not signed up to get in touch with the team.”
To sign up to Made Smarter or for more information, visit www.madesmarter.uk/