Officials from the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) visited two manufacturing businesses in the West Midlands to find out first-hand the impact of a major scheme which helps manufacturing and engineering firms adopt digital technology and drive growth.
Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub has led the Made Smarter West Midlands scheme since it was established as a pilot programme in 2021 alongside the Growth Hubs in Worcestershire, The Marches, and Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire, and on behalf of Business Growth West Midlands, the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Department for Business and Trade, before it was extended.
Made Smarter West Midlands helps small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing and engineering sector to access match-funded grant funding and experts from WMG, at the University of Warwick, and the MTC, to digitise their work, improve employees’ skills and become more productive.
The programme received 560 registrations from businesses in the West Midlands between April 2021 and November 2023 with 115 grants being awarded from April 2021 to October 2023 valued at £1.94 million.
A senior policy team from the Department for Business and Trade led by Deputy Director, Advanced Manufacturing, Michael Clark, visited the area to assess the impact of Made Smarter West Midlands.
The policy team spoke to the senior management teams at Impression Technologies in Coventry and Brandauer in Birmingham who have both received grants and an in-depth digital roadmap reviewing their businesses from Made Smarter West Midlands.
Impression Technologies, an innovative advanced aluminium light weighting technology business, has invested in a system to improve their data analysis through their grant.
And Brandauer, which provides precision-stamped components to ten different sectors worldwide, as well as high-speed progression tooling, used the grant to introduce a system that generates up-to-date operational data.
Michael said: “It was fantastic to meet with some of our leading manufacturing businesses, Brandauer and Impression Technologies, in the West Midlands, including Rowan Crozier who we were delighted to see received an MBE in the New Year’s honours list for services to manufacturing.
“This is an exciting time for the Made Smarter Adoption programme, as its expansion was announced in the landmark Advanced Manufacturing Plan (AMP) published in November which sets out the government’s initiative to ensure the UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a manufacturing business.
“This expansion will enable additional engagement with over 2,500 more SMEs each year across all of the UK.”
Craig Humphrey, Chief Executive at Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, said the project has been running in the West Midlands for nearly three years with magnificent results.
He said: “The delegation wanted to visit companies who had been through the programme to fully understand in detail how the introduction of digital technology has affected the way they operate and what improvements, if any, can be made to the Made Smarter programme.
“The workforces at Impression Technologies and Brandauer have absorbed their new digital tools to make a positive impact on how they operate, and both businesses are appreciative of the positive impact that Made Smarter West Midlands has had on their operations.
“It was important for the delegation to hear from the companies involved about its success and we are confident that the Made Smarter programme will continue to have a positive impact in the region and further afield.”
Caption: Officials from the Department for Business and Trade with representatives from Made Smarter West Midlands and Impression Technologies during their visit to Coventry