Made Smarter Programme for SMEs to Go Nationwide Following Government Expansion Plan

Made Smarter, a scheme supporting SME manufacturers in accessing technology and digital skills, is set for a national rollout.

The UK Government plans to extend the Made Smarter Adoption Programme to all nine English regions in 2025-26, followed by expansion to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 2026-27. This decision by HM Treasury, announced on 17th November, will enable a substantial increase in SME manufacturers' access to technology advice, leadership, skills training, digital internships, and technology project grants.

This expansion, coupled with a £4.5 billion investment in British manufacturing, aims to enhance productivity, growth, and decarbonisation across the sector.

Initiated in the North West in 2019, Made Smarter has interacted with 2,500 manufacturers and funded 334 technology projects, expected to create 1,550 jobs, upskill 2,772 existing roles, and boost the North West GVA by £242 million. This successful model has already inspired similar programmes in various regions, including the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, the West Midlands, East Midlands, and West of England.

The expansion coincides with Made Smarter's new report, ‘Delivering Impact: How Made Smarter Inspires Digital Transformation’, which assesses the adoption model's impact and suggests improvements.

Brian Holliday, Co-Chair of the Made Smarter Commission and MD of Siemens Digital Industries, stated: "This announcement by the Treasury clearly demonstrates that UK manufacturing matters. It represents a tremendous investment boost for our makers that will enable the confidence to invest in innovation, productivity, and sustainability. Key sectors benefit but so does the long tail of small and medium firms which is really important to directly address our recent challenges of weak overall productivity and investment. I believe the business benefits of digitalisation are now clear, while being an enabler for industrial decarbonisation too - the package of measures announced in bolstering Made Smarter, targeted regulatory reform and sector support, along with our world-class Catapults and Universities now makes the UK one of the best countries on the planet to sustainably design, make and export goods."

Donna Edwards, Director of Made Smarter’s North West adoption programme, commented: “I am delighted that the Government has recognised the extraordinary impact that Made Smarter’s adoption programme is having on digitalisation of SME businesses. Over the last four years we have worked tirelessly to help North West makers to start their digital journey by providing them with specialist advice to help them select the right approach, level of investment and tools for their business. The programme has proven the value technology and digital skills can bring to the manufacturing sector. While we await further details on the funding package, the commitment to a national roll-out is a huge vote of confidence in the contribution SMEs make to UK manufacturing. It will undoubtedly turbo charge the digital transformation of the sector.”

Paul McLaren, Chair of Made Smarter North West’s Steering Group and Production Director for BAE Systems, remarked: “Made Smarter has demonstrated that targeted support can be a catalyst for growth and a real enabler for change. UK manufacturing is moving into a phase where resilience is as important as it has ever been. Made Smarter is helping SMEs create robust plans to deliver impactful results.”

Juergen Maier, Industrialist and author of the Made Smarter Review, added: “I am delighted that the Made Smarter programme, kicked off by the manufacturing review I had the privilege to lead in 2017, is now being expanded England-wide and with promised continuity to 2030. It is exactly this sort of policy continuity that our manufacturing sector is looking for and I know it will stimulate investment and productivity.”