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If you have any questions relating to our national movement or adoption pilot programme in the north west, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve devoted this part of the website to frequently asked questions by makers, technology providers, students and others who have an interest in Made Smarter.

What is Made Smarter? What financial support is available? How exactly does the process work? If you’re curious about anything connected to our programme or the use of technology in business, you’ll find the answers to your most common questions below.

And if you have any queries that you can’t find here, head to the bottom of the page to submit your specific query.

Our "Frequently Asked" Questions
  • What is Made Smarter?

    Made Smarter is a national movement to empower the growth of UK makers and advance the UK economy. With the support of Made Smarter, Britain can achieve its aim of becoming a global leader in the creation, adoption and exportation of emerging technologies.

    The programme is backed by both world-renowned businesses and the UK government. It will help to improve the process for developing and adopting the tools, as well as make a real, everyday difference to people working within manufacturing – from the boardroom to the factory floor.

    Made Smarter was formed following an industry-led nationwide review into UK manufacturing. This put forward four key changes to tackle the sector’s challenges: stronger leadership, further technology innovation, faster implementation and adoption of tools, and the identification and encouragement of the future skills required.

    Our goal is to enhance the digital skills of industry leaders, bring businesses and research development together to develop new technologies, and support makers along their digital journey. The ultimate outcome is that we’ll inspire the next industrial revolution.

    To find out more about Made Smarter, head over to ‘What is Made Smarter?'

  • What financial support is available to me?

    What financial support is available to me?

    Made Smarter has a number of forms of financial support available:

    • Our specialist technology advice, digital strategy workshops and strategic expertise are fully funded. This offers you an independent review of your project plans identifying areas of opportunity for digital tools.
    • Made Smarter can offer guidance on leadership throughout a digital transition. A 50% subsidised Leadership Development Programme* is currently available for business leaders, managers and decision makers.
    • We offer strategic advice on digital internships to find the right fit for business. A specialist technology intern can support your SME with integration, digital strategy creation or research and development. Our digital technology internships* are fully funded too –  they’ll be paid £5,760 across a 480-hour technology integration project bespoke your business.
    • We can offer up to 50% match-funding for technology implementation to SME manufacturers*.

    You’ll be able to understand both the benefits and the challenges, as well as receive support from our team to shape your technology strategy and tech integration planning.

    * Currently Made Smarter is only delivering financial support to makers in north west England as part of the national pilot adoption programme.  

  • Where does the money come from?

    We’re financially backed through a partnership between the UK Government and private businesses. The Made Smarter National Adoption Pilot is a £20m funded programme, delivered across the North West of England by The Growth Company.

    A further dimension to Made Smarter funding is the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge Fund, an integral part of the wider UK Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund specifically focused on developing the next generation of materials for advanced manufacturing through investment in industry and research.

  • Who delivers Made Smarter?

    The Made Smarter national movement is governed by a variety of stakeholder, groups and partners – these are listed on our Governance and Structure page

    Who delivers the North West Adoption Pilot?

    Our pilot is delivered by The Growth Company in partnership with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Business Growth Hubs across the North West region.

    We also work closely with a range of delivery partners, strategic partners, professional networks and business support bodies. This ensures that we can reach as many local manufacturing businesses as possible, and support their growth through digital technologies.

  • What is the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge?

    The ISCF Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge Programme was formed from the recommendations of the Made Smarter Review, 2017. It will work in conjunction with the Made Smarter Commission and the National Adoption Programme.. The aim of this programme is to ensure the long term prosperity of UK manufacturing, raising total productivity by 30%, making the UK a global leader of the 4th Industrial Revolution and delivering clean growth.

    Expected economic and wider, social benefits or impacts from this challenge include:

    • improvement in manufacturing productivity
    • additional contribution to UK gross added value
    • increased exports, inward investment and new high quality jobs
    • thriving and rapidly growing tech developer community
    • UK manufacturing innovation, competitiveness & growth
    • UK exploitation of research led emerging technologies
    • reduction in CO2 emissions
    • improved health and safety of manufacturing environments
    • improved safety and conformity of products
    • increased value to consumers including improved product quality, personalisation, job satisfaction, lower prices, increased convenience, wider choice.
  • How much investment will my business receive?

    We take a holistic view of each bespoke application to identify each particular project’s need and the challenges that digital solutions integration can overcome. For this reason we can be flexible and up to 50% match-funding is available.

  • What types of projects can be funded?

    Projects that equip businesses with the tools to move towards ‘Industry 4.0’ are eligible. This means they need to be related to adopting and implementing new digital technologies. The project should unleash the power of Industry 4.0, providing benefits like:

    • Allowing you to visualise your production processes, meaning you can predict maintenance and respond to demand quicker.
    • Joining, automating and interconnecting your machinery and manufacturing software so you can harness real-time data.
    • Merging your existing physical production with new digital tech, machine learning and big data, providing a clearer picture of your operations that empowers better, more informed decision-making.
    • Assessing and protecting your data systems and infrastructure with cyber-security.

    You can take a look at some of the projects we’ve previously funded here.

  • How exactly does the process work?

    Once you’ve registered with us, one of our local advisers will be in touch to arrange a free, tailored business assessment to understand your operations.

    Following this, we’ll identify the tools to help boost your processes. At this stage, a tech specialist will scope your project and support you with your application. We’ll also review your current workforce and pinpoint any opportunities for skills and leadership development.

    You will then need to complete the application form along with the necessary financial checks. Once this is done, your assigned adviser will present the project to an independent panel. This consists of industry, academic and business support experts. They will make a decision on the day, so you’ll know if you’ve been successful, as well as the level of business growth funding granted (this is based on a points rating system for each proposal).

  • How much paperwork and time is involved?

    Whilst there are some forms, we recognise makers are busy and so have removed as much of the paperwork from the process as possible. What remains is straightforward, and we’ll work through it with you – you’ll be assigned a dedicated adviser who will support you at every stage.

    Plus, we never set a maximum or minimum amount for the time we spend with each business. In this way, we can ensure we truly tailor the service we provide to every client. Previous business leaders who’ve received government funding through Made Smarter have remarked on how quick and easy the process was compared to other traditional business support grants.

  • How long does it take to apply, and when will I receive the money?

    Each application and project is unique and distinct. Our advisers will work alongside you to scope it, complete the application form, and then submit it for review. Following this, you’ll receive a decision. If your project is approved, the money will be released to you within two working weeks.

  • What can I expect from a digital strategy workshop?

    A digital strategy workshop is a one-day session where an expert adviser will explain, build and develop your digital transformation strategy and produce a roadmap. Getting this right is essential to the successful implementation and execution of the tools. Through this long-term plan for digital adoption, you’ll be able to understand the challenges and opportunities for emerging technologies in your enterprise.

    We strongly recommend taking part in a digital strategy workshop prior to accessing grant funding. They’re generally more effective when you invite a range of employees, decision makers or managers to attend, as this ensures buy-in to the strategy at every level.

  • What if I already have a technology project in mind?

    This isn’t an issue – our specialist technology advisers will discuss your proposed project with you, helping to figure out its feasibility by exploring your enterprise’s needs and challenges.

  • How do I source the 'right' technology provider for my project?

    There is a wealth of different hardware and software solution providers for you to choose from. If you’ve worked with one previously and feel that they’re the right fit for your company and project, then you can continue to work with them on your Made Smarter project.

    But if you don’t already have a provider, then you can take a look at our technology providers directory. Whilst Made Smarter doesn’t specifically endorse them, you’ll be able to access an overview and case studies of their work. You can meet with them too, in order to effectively determine if they’re the right one for your project.

  • Can I apply for funding more than once, and can I have more than one project or grant supported?

    Yes – it’s very much an option to make more than one funding application for separate projects. We can work with you to develop a digital roadmap to plan your immediate and longer-term adoption of digital technologies, as well as advise on the aspects that may be eligible for grant funding.

  • What do the digital technology internships offer?

    Both undergraduate and postgraduate students can bring their digital skills and knowledge to a North West business, helping them employ emerging technologies whilst gaining valuable real-life experience.

    These digital natives could be implementing new hardware or software, or developing a road map and strategy to support your digital transformation. The internship can be tailored to align with specific student and business needs.

  • How can I hire an intern to work at my business?

    All you need to do is complete the Digital Internship registration form. We’ll then get in touch to discuss this opportunity, the skills your enterprise needs, and the hours the intern could work. It’s a matchmaking process; we want to guarantee that the right skills are placed into your business.

  • Is there anyone who can advise me on the skills my business requires?

    Yes – we have a dedicated Organisational Workforce Development Adviser who works closely with manufacturers to evaluate their needs based on their business, strategy, and the technology they’re hoping to implement.

  • What is the Made Smarter leadership programme, and how can I qualify?

    Developed by Lancaster University Management School, our Leadership Development Programme has been specifically designed for leaders of UK manufacturing SMEs who want to increase productivity and embrace new technologies. It takes into account operational change, along with employee expectations.

    The programme has a duration of eight months and we have subsidised the cost. If you’re a decision maker, leader or manager within a North West manufacturing business then you're eligible.

  • I need advice about a project – can you help?

    Our team of advisers are currently working with manufacturers across the North West of England. The advisers will talk to you about your business and listen to any concerns, and offer advice, support and solutions.

    This support is not capped and our team will work with you regardless of your digital knowledge or experience. Our team will provide impartial advice around technology suppliers and support you in ensuring you have a digital strategy in place that will help to futureproof your business. We can also work with you if you need help with skills and organisational development, as well as ensuring you, and your management team, have the necessary leadership skills to help implement a move to digital – whether it big or small.

Still haven’t found your answer?