Announced to huge fanfare in November 2017, the Made Smarter Review provided a definitive view of the UK’s industrial and technological landscape – and delivered proposals to put the nation at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

It is a cornerstone of the government’s Industrial Strategy, which is why 12 months after the review was published, the first Made Smarter Pilot scheme was launched here in the North West; its remit being to boost manufacturing productivity and growth through the adoption and use of industrial digital technologies such as automation, robotics, 3D printing, big data, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality and Internet of Things.

These digital technologies are the future of manufacturing and it is estimated that by testing these technologies, the North West’s manufacturing sector could generate a 25 percent boost in productivity and add £115 million to the regional economy.

The use of digital technologies will not only change how products are made but will also deliver benefits in several ways to both businesses and consumers, including:

The Made Smarter Pilot has been backed with a £20 million pot, which has been made available to businesses of all sizes to explore how to integrate digital technology into the manufacturing processes. At the core, is supporting small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), who want to embrace new technologies but have neither the knowledge nor the funding to achieve this.

This is where the Made Smarter Pilot Scheme will play a huge role, by assisting those businesses. It is working with the five North West Growth Hubs, including Cheshire & Warrington.

Given The Base’s focus on advanced manufacturing, engineering and Industry 4.0 and cross-sector innovation by bringing digital technology to manufacturing into a collaborative environment, we expect the Made Smarter Pilot to have an impact on businesses here and across Warrington, with upwards of 36,000 people in the area in roles that can drive this forward.

How do manufacturers benefit?

The Made Smarter Pilot aims to engage with 3,000 manufacturers across the five growth hubs and provide intensive support to 600 of these.

In the Made Smarter Review, one of the key findings was the lack of knowledge amongst SMEs on how to start the digital journey, the range of technologies and how to implement them.

As part of the Pilot, it will look to overcome these challenges facing SME manufacturers with these distinct areas of support.

The Made Smarter website has more information as well as inviting businesses to register their interest in being involved in the pilot scheme.

How do digital technology providers benefit?

The pilot will only work by bringing together businesses at the forefront of IDT and manufacturers, with interested technology developers urged to register on the Supplier Directory. In joining up, tech providers will not only play a role in boosting manufacturing growth, but also be in place for when the scheme is rolled out nationally.

As with the manufacturers, the Made Smarter team has distinct criteria of how tech providers will benefit by being part of the scheme:

Professor Juergen Maier, chair of the Made Smarter Commission and CEO of Siemens UK, said on the launch of the pilot:  “Making business owners and decision-makers more aware of those opportunities relies on two things: sustained support from government and creating an improved innovation ecosystem where people are exposed to and can play with these technologies.

“It is vital that the UK leads a new industrial revolution and makes the most of the rapid digitalisation of our manufacturing base. For Britain to thrive our SMEs must be equipped with the skills and technologies needed to make and export more.”

Made Smarter is being delivered by the regional Growth Hubs across the North West and co-ordinated by The Growth Company in Manchester. For more information visit the Made Smarter website here.


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