£1.9m project helps SMEs in advanced, manufacturing and engineering improve digital skills

A £1.9 million project has been launched in the West Midlands to help SMEs in advanced, manufacturing and engineering to improve their digital skills.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub is leading the one-year Made Smarter scheme with its fellow Growth Hubs in Greater Birmingham and Solihull, the Black Country, Worcestershire Business Central, The Marches, and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The aim of the pilot project is to encourage SMEs in the advanced, manufacturing and engineering sectors to adopt digital technologies to improve productivity and competitiveness, create jobs and increase skills.

The West Midlands Growth Hubs are working closely with the West Midlands Combined Authority and their strategic partners the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry to tap into the expertise of their digital manufacturing specialists.

Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said there are potentially 14,500 SME manufacturers in the region who could benefit from the National Made Smarter Movement.

He said: “All the Growth Hubs in the West Midlands are working together to contact SMEs in our areas who will benefit from this practical help.

“Digital technology can appear daunting and with the day-to-day efforts of owners and senior management teams to keep their businesses going during the pandemic, this kind of activity needs to be pushed to the upper end of their priorities.

“But we believe it is key to help SMEs in the AME sector to run more efficiently for their long-term future success.

“The Growth Hubs will be assessing each business that applies to make sure we provide them with the kind of specialist support they need, which in Coventry and Warwickshire could be in the fields of robotics and automation, and artificial intelligence since we are working with WMG and the MTC.

“We will then help SMEs to develop an action plan for adopting digital technology in their own detailed roadmap, which could involve participating in a leadership training programme, being offered a student placement, or receiving a match funded grant.

“The National Made Smarter Movement aims to entice SMEs that are not often reached through the usual business programmes and services, by transforming the digital tools within their companies, which in addition to upskilling their staff and creating jobs, will benefit the regional economy.”

To register and find out more information, please visit http://bit.ly/MadeSmarterWestMidlands