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As glass-half-full believers, we’ve had plenty to celebrate this year – not least all the amazing achievements within our industry, from tech innovations to efficient practices. And our own successes include securing funding for 41 SMEs as they embark on their digital transformation projects and expand into new sectors.

Now that the year is coming to a close, we thought we’d look back at our recent highlights here at Made Smarter. Read on to discover our top 10 moments of 2022.

  • 1. Publishing our market research report

    Our market research report published in 2022 revealed the impact of the last two years on over 200 manufacturing SMEs – and how they feel about adopting new technologies. Our key findings include:

    ● 42% of small businesses plan to invest in new technologies over the next few years, and 72% want to improve their data and systems integration

    ● However, 17% believe a lack of awareness is their biggest obstacle to new tech, while 42% cite limited funding

    ● 35% of manufacturers mostly focus on survival – but 80% of SMEs will take a calculated risk when investing in new tech if the benefits are clear

  • 2. Introducing the ‘For the Makers’ campaign

    Early in 2022, we launched our ‘For the Makers’ campaign in Greater Manchester to boost technology adoption. Featuring eight local manufacturers, we placed ads on digital billboards and 120 buses. Our striking photos and testimonials highlighted our positive impact on productivity and sustainable growth in SMEs.

    Our makers:

    Visual Architects
    The Bury Black Pudding Company
    ATEC Engineering Solutions
    Crystal Doors
    Arden Dies
    Starlight Bedrooms
    Lynn Lloyd Soft Furnishings

  • 3. Reaching milestones and backing 200 businesses

    Made Smarter’s third birthday wasn’t the only milestone we surpassed – we also supported our 200th business in its digital transformation.

    Since launching the programme, we have:

    ● Secured over £5M of matched funding for 291 SME projects in the North West – worth £13.4M after private sector investment

    ● Delivered workshops for 330 businesses seeking to map out their digital transformation

    Combined, this means increased revenue and exports, and reduced carbon emissions, energy bills, and waste for SMEs.

  • 4. Winning a commitment to innovation award

    Made Smarter’s West Midlands team triumphed at the Innovation Awards in Birmingham, winning the ‘Engineering Innovation Champion' award alongside Aston University’s Advanced Prototyping Facility. Our digital transformation experts were delighted with the recognition.

    Since our West Midlands branch launched in 2021, we’ve helped over 200 businesses improve productivity and value with digital technology. What’s more, we’ve extended the one-year programme for an additional three years, providing more manufacturers in the area with our support.

  • 5. Expanding into new regions

    Our digital transformation programme has also been incredibly successful in Yorkshire and the Humber, as well as the North East. Plus, the original pilot location – the North West – remains strong.

    Given there’s such a clear need for it, the government has announced that it will expand the programme into a new area: the East Midlands. We’re excited by this achievement and look forward to helping a new region succeed with Made Smarter.

  • 6. Growing internally

    There’s good news closer to home too. We’ve welcomed new additions to our team this year, including experts in technology, manufacturing, and marketing. This new growth will ensure we reach as many SMEs as possible.

    We’ve also expanded our skills team, which helps manufacturers upskill and future-proof their businesses to thrive in 2023 and beyond.

  • 7. Onboarding new clients

    We’ve welcomed many new and diverse clients this year – from agriculture to food and manufacturing. And we’ve really enjoyed interacting and helping such a wide range of manufacturers on their digital journeys.

    One of our most recent clients – Derek Rose, a family-owned British lifestyle brand and textile manufacturer – needed to satisfy growing demand. They had to scale up production, eliminate outdated processes, and stop relying on third-party manufacturers. A digital transformation workshop established the necessary tools and

    technologies, and then we secured grant funding for a leading computer-aided design and manufacturing solution to save time, resources, and costs.

  • 8. Welcoming HSBC UK

    In yet another win this year, we appointed HSBC UK to our funding panel, which helps manufacturing SMEs in the North West fast-track digital transformation. HSBC UK joins AMRC, GMCA, MMU, and Accenture.

    HSBC’s input and experience will be invaluable as we advance our adoption programme over the next three years. Plus, the addition ensures a more holistic outlook on the panel in the current uncertain economic climate.

  • 9. Entertaining the Minister for Industry

    Earlier this year, we welcomed a visit from Lee Rowley, the Minister for Industry. Mr Rowley visited BEP Surface Technologies to observe Made Smarter’s impact.

    BEP is a Radcliffe-based company specialising in manufacturing and refurbishing chill rolls. Over the past three years, we’ve provided:

    ● Impartial and expert technical advice

    ● A digital transformation workshop

    ● Two match-funded technology projects

    ● A digital intern

    And the Minister for Industry saw the results. With our help, BEP redesigned its factory with virtual reality simulation software to expand capacity. Plus, they invested in sensor technologies to improve efficiency and reduce waste.

  • 10. Celebrating Digital Manufacturing Week

    Closing off the year, we exhibited at Smart Factory Expo at Digital Manufacturing Week. We met up with our colleagues at Made Smarter Innovation, where they sponsored Made Smarter Innovation Alley; putting the spotlight on the next wave of technology businesses to hit the UK manufacturing sector.

    Digital Manufacturing Week also provides opportunities to connect with colleagues from other regions, network with manufacturing industry leaders, leverage national press coverage, build brand awareness, and acquire new customers.

  • Looking to 2023

    To top it all off, our final highlight of 2022 is all the support we’ve received. We’re incredibly grateful for your help in growing Made Smarter and advancing digital transformation in the manufacturing sector.

    And we hope that 2023 brings further successes and technology advancements throughout the industry. If you need any help –now or in the future – don’t hesitate to reach out.