Made Smarter Launches National Awards Program to Celebrate Digital Transformation in SME Manufacturers

by Anna

Made Smarter, a pioneering initiative connecting manufacturers with technology and skills, has introduced a national awards program aimed at recognizing and celebrating digital transformation within small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) manufacturers.


The Made Smarter Adoption Awards spotlight manufacturing and engineering companies that have demonstrated a commitment to adopting technology and skills to drive digitalization, decarbonization, and growth.


Regional winners from adoption programs in key industrial regions including the North West, West Midlands, North East, and Yorkshire and Humber have already been selected. Among them are:

Firstplay Dietary Foods, a specialist food manufacturer based in Stockport, recipient of the Made Smarter North West award;

Bridge Cheese, a cheese manufacturer located in Telford, winner of the
Made Smarter West Midlands award;

heliguy, a drone manufacturer situated in North Shields, winner of the Made Smarter North East award;

Choc Affair, a chocolatier based in York, winner of the Made Smarter Yorkshire and Humber award.

These companies will now advance to the national awards ceremony, where the overall winner will be announced in Liverpool on June 27.

Brian Holliday, Co-Chair of the Made Smarter Commission, expressed his pride in launching the awards, stating, “The Made Smarter Awards celebrate digital transformation among SME manufacturers, and it is with great pride to see these inaugural awards taking place this year.”

Holliday congratulated all winners and nominees, emphasizing the collective celebration of successes facilitated by the Made Smarter adoption program in individual manufacturing businesses.

He highlighted the program’s impact, which includes the creation of thousands of new jobs, adoption of multiple digital technologies, and empowerment of future digital leaders through skills and leadership training.

Looking ahead, Holliday mentioned the program’s expansion into more regions in 2025, aiming to support increased manufacturing productivity, strengthen UK supply chains, and reduce CO2 emissions.

Tom Fletcher, Managing Director of Firstplay Dietary Foods, credited Made Smarter’s support as transformational, citing assistance in creating a digital roadmap, investing in automation, and embedding new digital leadership skills.

Similarly, Sam Barnes, product development manager at heliguy, praised Made Smarter’s significant impact in helping the company bring retail products to market and enhance confidence moving forward.

In Yorkshire and Humber, Choc Affair celebrated its win alongside other area winners including JW Rose Bakers, Kirkstall Precision Engineering, and Detech Europe.

In the West Midlands, Bridge Cheese triumphed in the Marches area, joined by other area winners like D.A.R.L Engineering, Advanced Innovative Engineering (UK), Reynolds Blinds, Metal Assemblies, and G&O Springs, spanning various sub-regions within the West Midlands.

The Made Smarter Awards underscore the pivotal role of digital transformation in driving innovation, competitiveness, and sustainability within the manufacturing sector, heralding a new era of growth and opportunity for SME manufacturers across the UK.


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