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100 businesses sign up to digital efficiency scheme

A programme which helps West Midlands manufacturing and engineering firms to adopt cutting-edge digital technology has seen 100 companies sign up in just a few months.

Made Smarter reached the milestone after launching in the West Midlands in June, and is encouraging even more companies to sign up after this early success.

The £1.9 million scheme is helping manufacturing and engineering SMEs in the West Midlands utilise new digital technologies such as AI, advanced robotics, big data and wearable technology to improve their efficiency and productivity.

One company that has signed up to Made Smarter is Coventry manufacturing business Expert Tooling & Automation, which has met with the programme’s digital technology specialist for Coventry and Warwickshire, Paul Sullivan, and representatives of its strategic partner WMG, at the University of Warwick.

Andy Bools, R&D Programme Manager at Expert Tooling & Automation in Browns Lane, said: “It is an opportunity to have a fresh pair of eyes assess our business in specific areas such as digitising the way the company wants to move forward and access information regarding education and research to talk to experts in these fields that we wouldn’t normally have access to.

“The main driver is to make Expert more receptive to customers to show that we are completely different to our competitors so that when we quote a price for work, we can offer services that other businesses in our field can’t.

“I think Made Smarter is an amazing scheme – it was a fantastic opportunity to have industry and academic experts come in and offer you their advice for free to help make us more competitive and grow our business. It is one of those schemes where I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t join because there are so many benefits.”

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub is leading the one-year Made Smarter scheme with the region’s other Growth Hubs in Greater Birmingham and Solihull, the Black Country, Worcestershire, The Marches, and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The West Midlands Growth Hubs are working closely with the West Midlands Combined Authority and their strategic partners WMG, at the University of Warwick, and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “It is brilliant to have 100 companies sign up to Made Smarter in the space of just a few months, recognising how important this programme is going to be.

“With tens of thousands of people employed by SMEs in the West Midlands, this digital support should help secure jobs and businesses for the future as part of my 100,000 jobs plan.

“After the significant impact of the pandemic on the West Midlands’ economy, this is exactly this kind of support that will help our region’s businesses and their staff recover quickly and seize the new opportunities that digital technology provides.”

Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, added: “It’s absolutely fantastic that 100 companies have signed up to the Made Smarter scheme in such a short amount of time.

“All of them will now find it much easier to reap the benefits of using digital technology now they have signed up.

“Made Smarter is about giving businesses the help they need to adopt these new technologies – many smaller firms may not have the time or resources to go it alone, putting them at a disadvantage.

“With Made Smarter, we can help them access grants, expert advice, and work with them to develop an action plan to integrate new technology into their business and enable it to grow.

“We would encourage any smaller business looking to take the next step to get in touch.” To sign up to Made Smarter or for more information, visit


Caption: Andy Bools, R&D Programme Manager at Expert Tooling & Automation