A programme which helps West Midlands manufacturing and engineering firms adopt digital technology has now seen companies with a combined turnover of £1 billion sign up for support.
And Made Smarter – the £1.9 million scheme helping manufacturing and engineering SMEs in the West Midlands use new digital – has reached this milestone far more quickly than it expected.
The £1 billion combined turnover accounts for more than 175 companies of various sizes in the region that have signed up to Made Smarter, and it is hoped this rate of growth will continue into 2022.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub is leading the one-year Made Smarter scheme with the region’s other Growth Hubs in Greater Birmingham and Solihull, the Black Country, Worcestershire, The Marches, and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The West Midlands Growth Hubs are working with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and their strategic partners Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry and WMG, at the University of Warwick.
Companies that sign up to Made Smarter are visited by experts from either WMG or the MTC who assess exactly how the company can adopt new technology to benefit them as a business and help them produce a ‘roadmap’ showing them the steps needed to get there.
They are also given advice from one of Made Smarter’s digital technology specialists for each Growth Hub area, who can advise them on how much grant funding they can apply for and what support is right for them.
Paul Sullivan, Made Smarter’s industrial digital technology specialist for Greater Birmingham and Solihull and Coventry and Warwickshire, said: “Since the Made Smarter scheme opened up to West Midlands firms, we have seen companies continue to sign up in great numbers.
“We have around 175 taking part in the scheme, and many are on the waiting list to have an initial visit from either WMG or MTC.
“This has far exceeded our initial targets, and we’re delighted so many companies across the whole of the West Midlands are taking advantage of this great opportunity to enhance their business and improve their productivity and profitability.
“And that is one of the key benefits of Made Smarter – increased profitability. It’s fantastic to have companies with a combined turnover of £1 billion on the scheme, but the goal is to convert more of that turnover into profit for the individual businesses.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Technology is the ‘golden thread’ across many of our industries and it will be key to our future economic success.
“So, I’m delighted that West Midlands businesses are taking this opportunity to explore the latest technology and use it to raise their productivity, something which is vital for our region to maintain its competitiveness in a global market.
“But it’s equally important that local people have the ability to embrace this digital technology which is why the WMCA is training people in the skills they need for the jobs of the future.”
Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, added: “Having businesses with a combined turnover of £1 billion signing up to Made Smarter far sooner than predicted is fantastic news for the West Midlands.
“Many are already seeing the benefits of signing up through being awarded grants to invest in the latest technology that can really enhance their business.
“We’d encourage any manufacturing or engineering firm that hasn’t signed up yet to get in touch with us – this is a great opportunity to take your business forward.”