Help for businesses to embrace digital technology and supercharge growth

Help for businesses to embrace digital technology and supercharge growth
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Published: August 1st, 2022

A major scheme designed to help West Midlands manufacturing and engineering firms adopt the latest digital tech and drive growth has received £2.3m extra in funding to continue its work.

Made Smarter has already helped more than 200 SMEs in the West Midlands digitise their work, improve employees’ skills and become more productive since the scheme was launched the region in 2021.

Because of this success, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which funds the scheme has agreed to commit a further £2.3M to continue the programme for another three years. More than 150 businesses have already signed up to benefit from this second phase of the scheme.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I’m thrilled that we have succeeded in securing this extra funding from Government to help our region’s manufacturing and engineering firms to embrace digital technology.

“Prior to the pandemic we had the fastest growing economy outside of London and enhancing our digital capabilities will help us bounce back – getting back on track towards renewed growth and generating high quality job opportunities for local residents.”

“Anything we can do to drive innovation here in the West Midlands – not least for our dynamic SMEs – is very good news so I very much welcome the progress being made thanks to the Made Smarter programme.”

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub is leading the Made Smarter scheme with its fellow Growth Hubs in Greater Birmingham and Solihull, the Black Country, Worcestershire Business Central, The Marches, and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority and BEIS.

The West Midlands Growth Hubs are working closely with the West Midlands Combined Authority and their strategic partners WMG, University of Warwick, and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry to tap into the expertise of their digital manufacturing specialists.

Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub said: “Phase One of Made Smarter in the West Midlands was a runaway success with the scheme helping over 200 businesses across the region get the support they needed to access the latest digital innovations and expertise to help them grow and become more productive.

“It is fantastic to be able to continue this work under Phase Two of the scheme where we would look to help even more companies.

“Often, manufacturing and engineering SMEs know that there are areas where they can improve but have neither the time nor the capital to take those big steps to enhance their business.

“Made Smarter works directly with businesses to pinpoint the right solution for them and can help them through the process of applying for match-funded grants.

“We are really looking forward to helping even more businesses access the latest digital technology, and we are delighted BEIS has seen the worth of this project in our region.”

One company who has already benefited from the funding is Ramfoam. Ramfoam, which makes foam products for the military and other organisations, was one of the first businesses to sign up to the West Midlands Made Smarter programme which is aimed at increasing the number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) adopting digital technology in manufacturing. Last year Ramfoam adapted its manufacturing practices to produce two million face visors a week at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find out more about Made Smarter

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