Daresbury-based ABB and North West Business Leadership Team to help oversee roll-out of £20m business support programme for North West manufacturers

Based at BAE Systems in Lancashire, Ms Thompson is BAE’s Managing Director for Europe & International Programmes. This includes responsibility for BAE’s role in the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft programme, the world’s largest defence project.

Prior to this Andrea spent several years working in the United States, primarily in the automotive sector, before returning to the UK to work for major names including Leyland Trucks and Rolls Royce. In her role as Chair of the Made Smarter steering group Andrea will oversee the successful development and operational delivery of the Made Smarter programme.

The steering board, which features over a dozen representatives drawn from organisations from across the North West – including ABB and the North West Business Leadership Team which are both based in Daresbury – will also monitor progress of the pilot project and report on learnings which will help to inform the proposed national roll-out of the Made Smarter concept.

Other outputs from the steering board will include the ongoing promotion of Made Smarter locally, regionally and nationally, and the strengthening of relationships between Made Smarter and other partners working across the advanced manufacturing agenda in the North West.

The board will also be responsible for ensuring good governance during the lifetime of the Made Smarter North West pilot.

Commenting on her appointment as Chair, Ms Thompson said: “Having spent many years working in global industries like engineering, automotive and aerospace I know how respected and admired the North West of England’s manufacturing tradition is.

“However, much of this is down to the legacy of the first industrial revolution which started in this region. With Made Smarter we now have a real opportunity to kick-start a new era of technology-led manufacturing, driven by innovative and ambitious SMEs, throughout the whole of the North West.

“I am very proud to have been appointed to the role of Chair for the steering group, and I am relishing the opportunity to helping shape and develop this exciting project which has the potential to transform the region’s industrial economy.”

Emma Degg, Chief Executive of the North West Business Leadership Team, said of the Made Smarter programme: “There is no better region in the UK to pilot this important project. The North West was home to the first industrial revolution and our business have all the talent, ambition and drive to be a leader in the fourth. The North West Business Leadership Team has been proud to have been involved in bringing this important partnership together, and we are firmly committed to ensuring it now delivers real and lasting change for SMEs right across the region.”