Alan Dilworth, Programme Manager for the Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West


A trailblazing programme that has backed 2500 SME manufacturers to adopt new digital technology and skills to create growth and jobs has secured £6.1m funding to continue for three more years.

Made Smarter’s adoption programme in the North West has helped small and medium-sized companies start their digital journey by providing them with specialist advice and a digital roadmap to help them select the right approach, level of investment and tools for their business.

More than 250 of them, including several in the furniture sector, have invested in new technology, ranging from software and sensors to robotics and extended reality, to become more efficient, build resilience, increase their productivity and grow sustainably.

These include businesses like: Pendle Doors, based in Darwen; Crystal Doors in Rochdale; Inscape Interiors, a manufacturer of commercial cubicles, washrooms and fitted furniture, based in Chorley; and Starlight Bedrooms, based in Bolton.

As a result, Made Smarter-supported manufacturers are set to create 1250 new jobs, upskill almost 2300 existing roles, deliver an additional £176m in gross value added to the region, and help the UK meet its net zero target by 2050.

Now with a further £6.1m funding from the government, Made Smarter can accelerate its drive to support hundreds more SME manufacturers to embrace the industry 4.0 movement.

Meanwhile, as a result of the trailblazing work in the North West, the national roll out of the Made Smarter adoption programme has continued, and now includes the West of England and East Midlands. They join the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands regions.

Alain Dilworth, Programme Manager for the Made Smarter Adoption Programme in the North West, said: “I am delighted that the Government has recognised the extraordinary impact that Made Smarter’s adoption programme is having on digitalisation of SME businesses and the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies in the North West whilst continuing to fund our work for the next three years.

Pendle Doors

“While UK manufacturing navigated the pandemic and is working towards recovery, it is also bracing for further challenging times and economic bumps in the road ahead. Our rallying call to manufacturers is that digital technologies offer businesses opportunities to build resilience, innovate and transform. Digital tools can help manufacturers make marginal savings, set themselves apart from competitors in a volatile time, and make products quicker, affordable and more efficiently.

“This new funding means we can renew our ambition to reach out to the region’s SME manufacturers to connect them to the tools that will make an everyday difference to their businesses, build resilience and enable them to keep up with a fast-moving industry.”

Made Smarter’s simple and straightforward approach gets quickly to the heart of a business’s challenges and supports them to take that first step in their digital transformation.

Registration takes five minutes and is followed up with a digital transformation workshop to identify core challenges and provide a bespoke digital manufacturing roadmap.

Made Smarter’s team of expert advisors then pinpoint other ways that the programme can support a company’s digitalisation including skills and leadership development, and recommending the correct technology to invest in.

www.madesmarter.ukPendle Doors, based in Darwen