Making Lancashire Smarter: the pioneering tech programme adding £71.6m to the North West’s economy
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Having supported businesses as varied as specialist aerospace engineers, butchers, staircase manufacturers, and cheesemakers, Made Smarter was launched in 2019 in order to help businesses across every sector digitalise, decarbonise, and grow, taking up the mantle as flexible and adaptable 21st century companies ready for the future.
And the government-funded and industry-led initiative has been a barnstorming success so far, having invested £1.5m in 82 tech projects carried out by 70 Lancashire-based businesses. The project also helped bring in £4.6m in private investment, too.
As a result of the countless improvements, modernisations, and digitalisations enacted, manufacturers across the North West are forecasting the creation of more than 450 new jobs, the upskilling of almost 1,000 existing roles, and an additional £71.6m in gross value added to the Lancashire economy over the next three years.
Focusing on integrated systems, data capture and analysis, 3D printing, automation, and robotics to solve business challenges and meet increased customer demand, Made Smarter has ushered in a cutting edge tech revolution whilst also instigating some of the region’s outstanding eco-friendly carbon-reduction measures.
“When we launched the Made Smarter adoption programme four years ago, our ambition was to boost growth, productivity, [and] efficiency and create high value, well-paid jobs of the future,” says Donna Edwards, director of the North West adoption programme. “As well as play a vital role to help accomplish the UK's aim of reaching net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.
"Digital adoption is still rife and robust in the SME sector,” Donna adds. “It’s been great to see that so many firms have tapped into our expertise to help them select the right approach for their business, how much to invest, and which technologies will bring the greatest benefits. 2023 promises to be another busy year for Made Smarter.
Case studies across the county are rife: in Preston, Honeywell Meats, Linx Paper Ltd, Business Insight 3, Envirosystems (UK) Ltd, Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses, and S.W. Watson & Son were supported with £150,000 to invest in projects, creating 27 new jobs, while Blackpool-based Airframe Designs, Aerolux, Fylde Fresh and Fabulous, J Wareing & Son, The Barking Bakery, and The Protein Lab were supported with £170,000 in total to invest, creating 36 new jobs.
In East Lancashire, Burnley-based Mitchell Interflex, Back To Basics, Coolkit, Eluceda, Kavia Tooling, Rapid IT, and Xavier Engineering were supported with £90,000 in total to invest in projects, creating 20 new jobs, while - to the North - Lancaster-based Cornvale Fine Foods, Dan Hurtley Installs, Optimum Coatings, and Sonaspection International were supported with £90k in total to invest in projects, creating 10 new jobs.
"As trailblazers, we are tremendously proud of our achievements working together with the manufacturers we have supported, but now is not the time to rest on our laurels,” says Donna. “More challenges lie ahead for manufacturers as they navigate a multitude of demands on their businesses, whilst also trying to keep up with the rapid pace of change.
“I’d encourage any manufacturers who are wondering where to go next with technology to help manage their business more efficiently and sustainably to get in touch with the Made Smarter team.”