New figures revealed the impact of digital programme in Coventry and Warwickshire
The expansion of the significant Made Smarter programme, which enhances digital skills and access to technology in the manufacturing and engineering sectors, has been met with enthusiasm. This follows the release of new data showcasing its beneficial impact across the West Midlands.
The Made Smarter Adoption Programme is set to be implemented nationwide. The UK Government has committed to extending the programme across all nine English regions in the financial year 2025-26. Subsequently, it will collaborate with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland from 2026-27 onwards.
Launched in 2021 as a year-long pilot, Made Smarter West Midlands aims to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the manufacturing and engineering industries. It provides these businesses with access to both match-funded grant funding and digital expertise, facilitating their next developmental step and driving growth.
The Coventry and Warwickshire (CW) Growth Hub has spearheaded the Made Smarter West Midlands initiative. It has worked in conjunction with Growth Hubs in Worcestershire, The Marches, and Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire. Additionally, it represents Business Growth West Midlands, the West Midlands Combined Authority, and the Department for Business and Trade in this endeavour.
Moreover, the CW Growth Hub collaborates closely with WMG at the University of Warwick and the MTC. This partnership leverages the digital manufacturing expertise of these strategic partners.
Recent statistics from Made Smarter West Midlands indicate that from April 2021 to November 2023, there were 560 registrations, with 115 grants awarded between April 2021 and October of the same year, totalling £1.94 million.
The allocation of these 115 grants is as follows: 27 in the Black Country, 30 in Coventry and Warwickshire, 18 in Greater Birmingham and Solihull, 13 in The Marches, 16 in Stoke and Staffordshire, and 11 in Worcestershire.
As a result, since April 2021, there has been a substantial increase in the Gross Value Added (GVA) in the West Midlands, now totalling £128.1 million.
The breakdown of GVA in each area is as follows: Black Country (£34.1 million), Coventry and Warwickshire (£29.8 million), Greater Birmingham and Solihull (£15.1 million), The Marches (£21.1 million), Stoke and Staffordshire (£15.9 million), and Worcestershire (£12.1 million).
Craig Humphrey, the Chief Executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, expressed his delight at the nationwide extension of Made Smarter West Midlands, citing its undeniable success across the region.
“The whole purpose of Made Smarter is to equip SMEs in the manufacturing and engineering industry with the digital skills and technology to grow and take their businesses to the next level,” he said.
“Not only has this helped to upskill staff but it has benefited our local economy enormously, as the figures reflect.
“The response has been staggering and we have been oversubscribed which is why we are so pleased the programme has been extended because it gives our digital transformation specialists the opportunity to visit and help even more companies.
“Made Smarter has underlined the need for this kind of support for manufacturing and engineering companies because it is vital digital technology is embraced to improve productivity and skills.
“SMEs have always been the bedrock of our economy and the Made Smarter programme, delivered by my team across the West Midlands, has highlighted the impact of digital technology in manufacturing and engineering and we are delighted that this is now being rolled out across the country and extended until 2030.”