Made Smarter’s pioneering technology adoption programme has marked its fourth anniversary by helping its 250th SME manufacturer invest in new technology.

Hilton Docker Mouldings, specialists in fibreglass GRP mouldings, based in Littleborough, and 1860 GEL, an engineering business based in Rochdale, are among the latest businesses to secure support from the government-funded and industry-led initiative.

Launched in 2019 to help businesses digitalise, decarbonise and drive growth, the government-funded and industry-led initiative has helped 10 Rochdale-based businesses with £260,000 towards technology projects, worth £1M after private sector investment.

These manufacturers are forecasting their investments will create 55 new jobs, upskill almost 300 existing roles, and deliver an additional £9.7M in gross value added (GVA) for the Rochdale economy over the next three years.

Made Smarter has helped manufacturers adopt technologies which enable them to integrate systems, capture and analyse data, and even create simulations of their plants and processes, others are now using 3D-printing, automation and robotics to solve business challenges and meet increased demand.

By adopting cutting-edge technologies, these businesses are benefiting from improved productivity and revenue, increased exports and job creation, an upskilled workforce, lower energy bills, and a reduced carbon footprint.

By supporting many of these businesses to take their first steps towards digitalisation, Made Smarter is also paving the way for more advanced technologies coming quickly down the track such as the industrial metaverse.

Across the North West, Made Smarter has supported more than 2,500 businesses on their digitalisation journeys, offering fully funded support including expert, impartial technology advice, digital roadmapping workshops to help manufacturers take their first steps to transform their business, and skills development.

250 manufacturers have secured funding for 275 projects worth £18M, including £5M funded by Made Smarter and £13M from the businesses themselves.

Almost 1,300 new jobs are forecast to be created, 2,400 existing roles upskilled, and an additional £209M in GVA for the North West economy over the next three years.

Commenting on the programme’s achievement, Donna Edwards, director of the North West adoption programme, said: “When we launched the Made Smarter adoption programme four years ago our ambition was to boost growth, productivity, efficiency and create high value, well paid jobs of the future, as well as play a vital role to help accomplish the UK’s aim of reaching net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.

“Digital adoption is still rife and robust in the SME sector. It’s been great to see that so many firms have tapped into our expertise to help them select the right approach for their business, how much to invest and which technologies will bring the greatest benefits. 2023 promises to be another busy year for Made Smarter.

“As trailblazers, we are tremendously proud of our achievements working together with the manufacturers we have supported, but now is not the time to rest on our laurels. More challenges lie ahead for manufacturers as they navigate a multitude of demands on their businesses, whilst also trying to keep up with the rapid pace of change.

“So, I would encourage any North West manufacturers who are wondering where to go next with technology to help manage their business more efficiently and sustainably to get in touch with the Made Smarter team.”