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Greater Manchester almost feels synonymous with innovation. In fact, it’s the ‘fastest-growing tech city’ in Europe and one of the best places in the world to be a startup.

It’s little wonder, then, that we’re seeing such a strong appetite for technology adoption in this region. Made Smarter Business Adviser, Jan Woodward, explains why it’s such a hub for digitalisation, as well as its recent successes.

Find out what Jan, our Digital Transformation Specialist for Greater Manchester, has to say
  • Enthusiasm for technologies

    2021 has seen a renewed appetite for digital technology adoption. Makers are keen to plan ahead – not only for their recovery from the pandemic, but far beyond this too. Manufacturers in the Greater Manchester area are looking to beat the competition and future-proof themselves against any other potential crises. They also want to ensure they have the right skills and processes to take on new contracts, as well as uphold and deliver their existing ones competitively.

    The appetite for technology really is strong in the region. When it could have been easy to use the coronavirus outbreak as a reason to postpone their digital adoption, so many have steamed on ahead with it. They’re reaping the rewards as a result, and are much further along than those who are still grappling with their day-to-day operations.

    Pencilling in time away from the daily grind has allowed them to gain more than you could ever imagine. They can see things from a fresh, more strategic perspective, and they’ve set out a long-term plan to propel their businesses to success.

  • Greater Manchester success stories

    One such example is Ripple, who manufacture bespoke displays and retail interiors. Before one of Made Smarter’s digital transformation workshops, they didn’t fully realise the impact and energy that an outside perspective could bring. And then there’s Visual Architects, an event décor maker, who also benefitted from a workshop in mapping out a “real, solid direction” for their business. They both have a really innovative culture, much like many other Greater Manchester makers – which is sure to give them a head start over their competitors.

    There are so many manufacturers and innovative businesses who have chosen the city of Manchester as their base. It’s had the investment and support to make digital transformation easier, yet it does still have a way to go. It needs to become a busy hive for manufacturing, talent and digital skills. The region certainly has very passionate, driven businesses, but it requires more support to achieve the level of digitalisation desired.

  • Interest in support

    Like Liverpool City Region, there are many pockets of support (as opposed to a singular source) under the Greater Manchester umbrella. So it’s unsurprising that many makers find it complicated or overwhelming to establish the right support or funding. This is why, whenever I speak with a manufacturer, I start by understanding their business challenges and the barriers they’re experiencing around technology adoption. I can then break these issues down and demonstrate the many ways we can help overcome them.

    Some makers come to us because they’re attracted by the funding available. Yet I always encourage them to be open-minded and consider the wider support before moving ahead. Those who do are so engaged, and use it on an ongoing basis to achieve their future success.

    In terms of the projects themselves, there’s a particular enthusiasm for data and systems integration – around  are placing this at the centre of their digitalisation plans. A keen interest in onboarding a digital technology intern is also prominent; manufacturers are realising that these digital natives can really transform their businesses for the better. They know the region has incredible talent, given that the universities in the area are leaders in manufacturing and engineering, and they want to harness it.

  • Dedicated support from Made Smarter

    With the help of Made Smarter’s support, manufacturers of all sizes have built a strong ecosystem in Greater Manchester. Smaller businesses aren’t left behind because they can’t afford the investment, and the makers that aren’t certain what they need to do or what they require are given all the impartial advice they need. Our free consultation can help them determine the best route forward for their business, from a digital technology internship to our leadership programme.

    If I was to give just four top tips for Greater Manchester makers, they would be:

    1. Attend a digital transformation workshop – this external perspective is invaluable, and will help set you on the right track to digitalisation.
    2. Find out what others are doing in the region – they’re a friendly bunch and will often be more than willing to share their experiences.
    3. Bring in a digital technology intern – they can bring in a fresh set of skills and ideas.
    4. Focus on the future – try to avoid getting bogged down in the day-to-day; it’s important to plan and grow.

    Of course, my last piece of advice is to speak to us here at Made Smarter – by registering today, you can be well on the way to your own digital transformation.

We’ve been supporting Greater Manchester for two years now, and whilst there is of course a long way to go for full technology adoption, digitalisation has come on leaps and bounds. We’re proud to help the community grow in whatever way we can.

Based in the region? If you’d like an informal, impartial chat with me, I’d love to hear from you. Simply email me directly at

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