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Made Smarter East Midlands, a ground-breaking initiative designed to propel small and medium-sized manufacturers into the digital age, celebrates significant achievements as it looks ahead to further transformative strides in the manufacturing landscape.

Since its inception in 2022, Made Smarter East Midlands has injected innovation and provided expert support for the region's manufacturing sector. With a focus on alleviating the everyday pain points of manufacturers through digital adoption, the programme has already left an indelible mark on the industry.

To date, Made Smarter East Midlands has secured £1,573,667.84 of investment in the region, providing crucial support to 226 manufacturers and awarding grants totalling £553,450.62 to drive digital transformation initiatives. This underscores the programme's commitment to supporting businesses with the tools and resources needed to thrive in an increasingly digitised world.

According to Make UK, more than half of manufacturers (53%) are gearing up to launch new products, indicating a clear focus on innovation and market expansion throughout 2024. Similarly, 71% of manufacturers agree that digital technology is crucial and considered a key driver of productivity.

"Our mission with Made Smarter East Midlands has always been clear: to equip manufacturers with the knowledge, expertise, and funding necessary to embrace digital transformation," says Dr Chris Owen, Programme Director for Made Smarter East Midlands. "As we reflect on our accomplishments so far, we are proud of the impact we've had on businesses throughout the region and look forward to the impact we can have on the industry over the coming 12 months."

The programme's comprehensive approach encompasses various elements tailored to the needs of manufacturing SMEs. From fully funded digital road mapping to leadership development and grant funding, Made Smarter East Midlands offers a holistic support system aimed at driving sustainable growth and innovation.

"Our partnership with industry-leading organisations such as the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), Oxford Innovation, and Loughborough University underscores our commitment to delivering world-class support to manufacturers," adds Dr Owen.

The UK manufacturing sector has experienced significant growth, with output reaching £224 billion, elevating its global ranking from 9th to 8th place. However, despite this growth, manufacturers continue to face challenges such as energy prices, geopolitical instability, and economic conditions, all impacting profit margins and employment costs. Nevertheless, 62% of manufacturers believe that the opportunities, such as Made Smarter East Midlands, are perceived to outweigh risks.

As Made Smarter East Midlands gears up for the year ahead, anticipation mounts for the programme's expansion and evolution. Based on the significant success of the programme, it was recently announced it be expanded and extended out to 2029. Made Smarter is poised to deliver even greater innovation and growth within the region, emphasising the importance of digital adoption to elevate manufacturing in micro and larger SME Manufacturers across the East Midlands and boost their productivity.


To find out more about the Made Smarter East Midlands programme and apply visit