12 Dec

East Midlands SMEs invited to apply to new £3m Made Smarter fund

Digital manufacturing (jeshoots-com-sMKUYIasyDM-unsplash)

East Midlands Growth Hubs have combined to win £3m of funding to help increase the productivity and skills of manufacturing businesses in the region.

Government will extend Made Smarter to the East Midlands in a programme which will be open to small and medium-sized firms in Leicester and Leicestershire.

The funding will be used to help manufacturers boost productivity by implementing digital technology and improving leadership and management skills.

Made Smarter in the East Midlands aims to advise more than 400 small and medium-sized businesses, undertake 133 business assessments, provide intensive support to 70 businesses, and boost the leadership and management skills of 36 senior manufacturing leaders.

It will also help businesses implement more automation and take advantage of technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.

Benefits of new technology include:

  • Reducing inefficiencies and cutting waste

  • Increasing sales growth and new market opportunities

  • Overcoming capacity and resource issues

  • Boosting competitiveness

  • Increasing resilience, agility and ability to innovate.

Successful applicants will be able to secure grant funding of up to £20,000, based on 50% match-funding.

They will also work with a specialist to devise a tailored plan to develop and grow the business.

This will help to create more high skilled jobs in East Midlands programme area, which includes Leicester and Leicestershire. The local contact is the LLEP Business Gateway Growth Hub.

Sonia Baigent, Chair of the LLEP Business Board and Director of Assist Business Consulting Ltd, said:

It’s excellent news that Leicester and Leicestershire will be working with neighbouring counties to help our SMEs increase their productivity and skills.

Increasing productivity is a pillar of our region’s economic growth strategy, as is innovation – doing more with less through new-to-business initiatives.

The vast majority of businesses in our area have fewer than 250 employees, so if we are to really increase productivity then we need to take full advantage of programmes such as Made Smarter and the help they offer in developing key sectors such as manufacturing.

The East Midlands is home to 16,410 manufacturers – 10.4% of all businesses. Of these, 2,790 are SMEs.

Made Smarter has already been running in the North East, West Midlands, North West, and Yorkshire and the Humber.

It has been estimated that the investment will help to generate £80m in additional productivity. This is based on data from previous programmes in other areas.

Anne Ford, Managing Director of PGM Reball, Hinckley, has previously invested in digital manufacturing. She said:

The area that’s had the biggest impact is digitising the manufacturing process, so taking what was a very intensive manual craft and developing a machine tool that completely transforms that in terms of producing the end product.

We’ve reduced the time it takes from around four weeks to 30 minutes.

The East Midlands bid has been led by Lincolnshire County Council and the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The programme will launch soon. The Business Gateway Growth Hub is accepting early expressions of interest now.

(Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash)

Register your interest in Made Smarter