Midlands manufacturers to future-proof with regional AI integration programme

Led by AND Digital and TechWM with support from SF Technology, Browne Jacobson, Technology Supply Chain, and Oxford Innovation Advice, this week saw the kick-off event for the innovative AI Adoption Acceleration Programme.

Hosted at X+Why in Birmingham’s city centre, the eight West Midlands manufacturing businesses had the chance to meet their AI mentors, network with likeminded teams, and hear from leading regional tech figures as the successful applicants look ahead to the start of the future proofing process on the 1st of July.

The eight chosen businesses come from a range of backgrounds, sectors, and sizes with each of them set to adopt artificial intelligence to speed up their processes and improve efficiency whilst generating jobs and cutting costs. AND Digital has cited a lack of tools, resources, knowledge, and networks as key blockers for manufacturing businesses introducing artificial intelligence, but the AI Adoption Acceleration Programme aims to be the start of an industry-wide change in approach to the implementation.

Thanks to the West Midlands’ historic affinity with the world of manufacturing, this programme will see some of the region’s most well-known industry names welcome AI with open arms in an effort to future-proof their operations. The eight businesses involved are:

  1. Commercial and domestic steelworkers, Arc Metal Design
  2. Food manufacturers, Bridge Cheese
  3. Made to measure window treatment providers, Reynolds Blinds
  4. Engine manufacturers, Advanced Innovative Engineering
  5. Machining solutions providers, Rowan Precision
  6. Multifaceted engineering team, James Lister and Sons
  7. Coffee machine manufacturers, Fracino
  8. Metal service centres, William King Ltd.

Officially launching on the 1st of July, the kick-off event was a chance for the teams in the programme to meet their mentors and experts who will be guiding them through the process, hear from the teams coordinating the programme, and hear from the likes of the Martin Ward, the West Midlands Tech Commissioner as he reiterated the importance of retaining heritage businesses in the West Midlands by ensuring they’re ready for the future.

Sharing his thoughts, Bradley Quinn, Managing Consultant & Lead for the AI Adoption Accelerator at AND Digital said: "AND is delighted to be partnering with TechWM to deliver this first-of-type accelerator to lower the barriers of adoption and kick start the AI journey for manufacturing SME's in the West Midlands. Over the course of the next 12 weeks each of our participating businesses will receive access to dedicated expert mentoring, tailored learning content, and hands on experience of designing their own AI use cases to scale within their firm.

“This programme has been shaped by AND's 10 years of experience supporting global, market-leading clients to accelerate their own digital ambitions and build great digital products and services. We can't wait to share our insight with these forward-thinking local companies to contribute to closing the digital skills gap in the West Midlands and demonstrate that advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence really are everybody's business."

Yiannis Maos MBE, CEO at TechWM added: “The West Midlands is such a special place because it’s a rare intersection of past and present. Our rich history in manufacturing, trade, and production has given us an incredible opportunity to be a step ahead when it comes to preparing for the future and the AI Adoption Acceleration Programme is the key to doing so. When exploring how we can continue to cement the region as a global tech superpower, making the most of the industrial titans we already have thriving in the area was a no brainer and working with the brilliant AND Digital meant we could equip some historic names and up-and-coming disruptors with the tech, knowledge, and tools to enhance the incredible work they’re already doing.

“I cannot wait to see how these teams introduce and integrate AI into their businesses in the coming months, and I’m sure that at the end of it, we’ll have eight businesses ready to tackle the future head on.”

The AI Adoption Acceleration Programme commences on the 1st of July for 12 weeks. To find out more, visit https://www.and.digital/west-midlands-ai-adoption-accelerator-programme.