Drives and Controls Magazine
Made Smarter to go UK-wide in £4.5bn manufacturing plan
Published:  20 November, 2023

The UK Government has announced plans to expand the Made Smarter Adoption programme to the whole of the UK as part of its newly-announced £4.5bn of funding for British manufacturing.

The government-funded Made Smarter programme helps small and medium-sized manufacturers to use digital technologies. Since it launched in 2018, it has helped more than 2,500 manufacturers in limited regions of England, through grant funding, technology advice and skills training. It is estimated that this will create 1,550 jobs and upskill 2,772 existing roles, and boost the regional economy by £242m.

Now the government is planning to expand the scheme to other parts of England in 2025-26, before working with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to explore making the programme UK-wide from 2026-27.

Stephen Phipson, CEO of the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, has welcomed the move. “Make UK has long campaigned for Made Smarter to be a fully national scheme so that all SME manufacturers can benefit from the expertise the programme delivers and we are delighted at today’s decision from government to commit to a national rollout.

“Made Smarter has already transformed thousands of companies in the North East, North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire & the Humber and now it can help turbo-charge industrial digitalisation in SMEs across the whole of the country,” he adds. “The end-to-end specialist support the programme delivers has successfully helped smaller businesses dramatically boost productivity, improve energy efficiency, drive growth, upskill roles and deliver new jobs in digital skills to create workforces of the future which will allow Britain’s smaller manufacturers to continue to grow and remain globally competitive.”

The plans to expand Made Smarter are part of £4.5bn of funding for British manufacturing to boost economic growth announced by the Government. This will be targeted at eight sectors it regards as being key to economic growth, energy security, and levelling-up. These include automotive, aerospace, life sciences and clean energy. The funding will be available for five years from 2025, providing industry with longer term certainty.

More than £2bn has been earmarked for the automotive sector and £975m for aerospace, supporting production, development and supply chains for zero-emission vehicles, and investment in efficient and zero-carbon aircraft.

The government has also committed £960m to a Green Industries Growth Accelerator to support clean energy manufacturing, and £520m for life sciences manufacturing.

Hunt: the £4.5bn investment will create skilled, higher-paid jobs in new industries that will be built to last

The government says it is targeting the funds at what it regards as the UK’s strongest sectors, including those where the industry is undergoing fundamental changes to remain at the forefront of the global transition to net-zero emissions.

Announcing the £4.5bn programme, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, said: “Britain is now the eighth-largest manufacturer in the world, recently overtaking France. To build on this success, we are targeting funding to support the sectors where the UK is or could be world-leading.

“Our £4.5bn of funding will leverage many times that from the private sector, and in turn will grow our economy, creating more skilled, higher-paid jobs in new industries that will be built to last.”

Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, added: “This package builds on recent investment wins, such as the £4bn gigafactory, and the £600m invested to build the next generation of electric Minis, and ensures that the government can continue to help create jobs, grow the economy, and secure the future of great British manufacturing.”

The UK manufacturing sector accounts for more than 43% of all UK exports and employs around 2.6 million people.