A new £20m initiative, designed to embed advanced digital technology across the North West’s manufacturing sector to boost productivity, has been officially launched.
Backed by national government and some of the world’s biggest businesses, the Made Smarter North West programme is set to engage with 3,000 SME manufacturers.
Lancashire firms which get involved in the project can access match funded support and advice regarding how industrial digital technologies, including robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and the Internet of Things, could revolutionise their manufacturing processes.
A number of county firms will also qualify for more intensive business support, gaining access to match-funded grants, bespoke consultancy, mentoring and other resources to accelerate commercial growth.
By becoming a test-bed for new types of technologies and advanced processes, the region’s manufacturing sector could generate a 25 per cent increase in productivity and add £115m to the North West economy.
Embracing the principles of Made Smarter could also help to open up new markets, increase exports and create hundreds of additional high-skilled, high-value jobs across Lancashire.
It follows a recent budget announcement of up to £121m of additional funding as part of government’s £1.1bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
Made Smarter will be delivered across the county by Boost, Lancashire’s business Growth Hub.
Andy Walker from Boost said: “With new facilities such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at Samlesbury, the Health Innovation Campus at Lancaster, the Energy HQ in Blackpool and UCLan’s Engineering Innovation Centre in Preston, Lancashire is developing a truly world class technology-led innovation infrastructure.
"However, the Made Smarter North West programme means that any Lancashire firms unsure about how to maximise these assets, or who want to better understand the incredible commercial opportunities of the latest industrial digital technologies, will now have the chance to get advice, support and grants.”