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New £8 million government funding for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to help them modernise, go digital and create new jobs.

The funding, part of the government’s Made Smarter Adoption programme, will support up to 1,000 small and medium sized manufacturers, across the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber and the West Midlands regions, in adopting digital technology.

Made Smarter is offering undergraduates, master’s and PhD students, and graduates from any UK university a golden opportunity to gain valuable hands-on practical experience, a taste of a potential career path, and a foot in the door of a forward-thinking company or industry. Interns are working on live projects across the North West which are having a real effect on the business’s long-term success.

A pilot of the programme launched in January 2019 in the North West and has already worked with more than 1,000 firms and directly supported over 500 businesses to use digital technology to overcome challenges or access opportunities to grow their business.

The additional funding announced today (18 February 2021) will allow businesses in the North West to continue to access support and, starting in the coming months, for more manufacturers across other parts of England do the same.

The Bury-based Black Pudding Company is already using support from Made Smarter to help create the world’s first smart black pudding factory by using automation and digital tools to increase product quality and substantially reduce waste.

Meanwhile, Altrincham-based Mackinnon and Saunders, the stop-motion animators who worked on Postman Pat and collaborated with Hollywood director Tim Burton, have received support to adopt digital technology such as 3D printing to keep up with bigger, global rivals.


The proof is in the pudding and for the companies that have adopted the latest digital technology they are already reaping the rewards.To help level up the country, we want to ensure businesses have the right tools for the job so that they can build back better and greener from the pandemic.

Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment
About the continuation of funding
  • What can businesses benefit from?

    By supporting adoption of industrial digital technology, such as robotics and automation, additive manufacturing or the Internet of Things, the programme can help level up regions by enabling manufacturers to increase their productivity, create high-skilled well-paid jobs and reduce their emissions.

    Chairman, Accenture UK & Ireland, and Made Smarter Commissioner, Olly Benzecry, said:
    "Having been actively involved in the North West pilot we have seen the power of this scheme to help a broad range of manufacturers exploit industrial digitalisation to increase productivity and employment. It is great to see this approach now being made available more nationally, building on the strong foundation developed and proven in the North West over the past 2 years." 

    The government’s Made Smarter Adoption programme includes free impartial, expert advice, funded digital internships, access to specialised leadership and management training, as well as match funding for digital transformation projects.

  • Projects that have benefitted from support already

    Preston-based, nutrition supplement manufacturer Nutree Life has adopted state-of-the-art automation technology to enable faster and more accurate production whilst improving efficiency. This has helped the firm to meet increased demand and allowed them to double their workforce.

    Wirral-based Parity Medical has used their support from Made Smarter to develop a virtual showroom for their specialist medical technology that will reduce sales team travel by 30,000 miles a year and accelerate their demonstration process from two days to just one hour. 

    You can find more case studies here

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