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Manufacturers Urged To Secure Grant Funding To Go Digital

Manufacturing businesses in the Tees Valley are being urged to secure up to £20,000 in grant funding to invest in new software and digital equipment to become more efficient and productive.

The Made Smarter Adoption North East programme, which aims to drive growth in the UK’s manufacturing businesses by improving the development and adoption of emerging technologies, has now entered its second phase due to successful delivery of the pilot programme.

The programme is being delivered by Tees Valley Business, the region’s local growth hub, established by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.

On top of the £20,000 grants to cover up to 50% of the costs of adopting new technologies, SME business bosses can secure hands-on assistance to develop digital roadmaps for their companies via workshops and Digital Showcases at Teesside University’s Industrial Digitalisation Technology Centre.

Innovation Vouchers worth up to £500 are also available to help them access expert advice from an industrial digital technology specialist.

One local firm already seeing a benefit is Billingham-based BA Joinery, which employs 48 staff at its manufacturing facility. It took advantage of Made Smarter to develop a bespoke software package to replace the multiple off-the-shelf digital solutions it had implemented across the business. This will help make the firm more streamlined, efficient, able to convert projects faster and assist with quality control.

Sam Reed, Head of Business Support at BA Joinery, said: “The workshops were really beneficial. We got to network with other people in the same industry and learn from them. It was really helpful to pick apart our processes; strip everything back and see where the gaps were, where could we be more efficient. It was really eye opening and we wouldn’t have delved so deep into this area had it not been for Made Smarter.

“Made Smarter Adoption North East gives you an insight into what’s worked for other people before you dive into something yourself. It’s important to get a good understanding of the solutions out there and you need help and guidance from an expert to do that.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It’s more important than ever for our SMEs to take advantage of innovative digital solutions to increase their productivity and efficiency, and we’re helping to drive that take-up right across all of our sectors.

“From large-scale projects such as being home to the Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation, where we’re working to remove red tape and map out the role tech can play in the future of international trade, to smaller-scale projects like this, we’re making it easier than ever for businesses to go digital.

“I’d call on any firm across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to check out the funding and support available, secure specialist advice and take advantage of the offer to help them grow, win more work and employ more local people.”

Michael Thompson Project Manager at Teesside University’s Industrial Digitalisation Technology Centre (IDTC) said: “It’s been a difficult period for businesses (particularly SMEs) and now is the perfect time to improve manufacturing efficiencies through digital transformation. With the Made Smarter Adoption North East programme being delivered in partnership with the IDTC and Teesside University, SMEs can be armed with the knowledge to develop and procure the software and hardware that’s right for them through completely impartial consultancy.”

The North East Growth Hub and Tees Valley Business are working with Made Smarter to deliver Made Smarter Adoption in the North East LEP and Tees Valley Combined Authority areas.

For more information on Made Smarter Adoption North East in the Tees Valley, visit www.teesvalleybusiness.com/madesmarter