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Government Expands Made Smarter Programme Nationwide to Boost SME Manufacturing

by Anna

In a significant move to empower small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) manufacturers across the United Kingdom, the government has announced the expansion of the Made Smarter Adoption Programme to all nine English regions by 2025-26. Following this, the initiative is set to extend its reach to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland from 2026-27.

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The Made Smarter programme, designed to assist SME manufacturers in accessing technology and digital skills, will now provide hundreds of thousands more businesses with invaluable technology advice, leadership, and skills training. Additionally, SMEs will have access to grant funding for digital internships and technology projects.

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This commitment, in conjunction with the government’s plans to allocate £4.5 billion in funding for British manufacturing, is anticipated to foster productivity, growth, and decarbonization among SME manufacturers across the country.

Originally launched in the North West in 2019, the Made Smarter initiative has already made a considerable impact. Having engaged with 2,500 manufacturers and funded 334 technology projects, it is projected to create 1,550 jobs, upskill 2,772 existing roles, and increase North West GVA by £242 million.

The success of the Made Smarter blueprint has not gone unnoticed, inspiring adoption programs in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, the West Midlands, East Midlands, and West of England.

The recent announcement coincides with the release of a comprehensive report by Made Smarter, titled ‘Delivering Impact: How Made Smarter Inspires Digital Transformation.’ The report outlines the positive effects of the adoption model and proposes strategies to further enhance its effectiveness.

Brian Holliday, Co-Chair of the Made Smarter Commission and MD of Siemens Digital Industries, hailed the Treasury’s announcement as a substantial investment boost for UK manufacturing. He emphasized the confidence it will instill in businesses to invest in innovation, productivity, and sustainability. Holliday highlighted the inclusive nature of the initiative, benefiting not only key sectors but also the long tail of small and medium-sized firms.

Donna Edwards, Director of Made Smarter’s North West adoption programme, expressed her delight at the government’s recognition of the program’s impact on SME businesses’ digitalization. She emphasized the value of technology and digital skills in the manufacturing sector and anticipated a substantial acceleration in the digital transformation of SMEs with the national rollout.

Paul McLaren, Chair of Made Smarter North West’s Steering Group and Production Director for BAE Systems, underscored the program’s success in acting as a catalyst for growth and a genuine enabler for change. Recognizing the critical phase that UK manufacturing is entering, he highlighted Made Smarter’s role in assisting SMEs in creating resilient plans for impactful results.

Juergen Maier, industrialist and author of the Made Smarter Review, expressed his delight at the expansion of the program, emphasizing the importance of policy continuity for the manufacturing sector. Anticipating increased investment and productivity, he applauded the government’s commitment to the Made Smarter programme, originally initiated in 2017.

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