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Digital technology experts available to support SME employees in manufacturing and engineering

Digital technology specialists have been appointed across the West Midlands to boost productivity and growth as part of the £1.9 million Made Smarter programme.

The five experienced digital experts will be sharing their knowledge to improve the digital skills of employees to make a difference to the day-to-day operations of small and medium sized manufacturing and engineering businesses through a variety of ways including reducing costs, improving manufacturing times or helping to win more overseas contracts.

The region is divided into six Growth Hub areas. The Marches will be covered by Digital Technology Specialist Barry Jones, Worcestershire by Martyn Mangan, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire by Tim Kirby, the Black Country by Jit Gatcha, Coventry and Warwickshire by Paul Sullivan and Greater Birmingham will be covered by Paul, Martyn and Jit.

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, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “There are tens of thousands of people employed by small and medium sized manufacturers in the West Midlands, and this digital support should help them and their employers adapt to new and smarter ways of working, securing jobs and businesses for the future.

“After the devasting impact of the pandemic on our economy, it’s exactly this kind of support that will help our region’s businesses and the people they employ, recover and seize the new opportunities that digital technology provides.”

Tim Kirby has extensive experience in the textile and automotive industries – which has seen him work in South Africa and Germany, as well as for companies like Marks & Spencer, Toyota, and Bentley Motors.

While at Bentley, Tim learned the principles behind lean manufacturing, and will use this expertise in his role with Made Smarter to help businesses find efficient digital solutions.

He said: “I’m very pleased to be part of the Made Smarter team, especially for the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire area, to help companies on their journey and show them what can be gained by joining the programme.

“I feel the Made Smarter program will enable SMEs in the area to reach their potential and become more efficient, thus bringing in new customers and enabling growth.”

Chris Plant, director of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub, said: “It’s great to have Tim on board to help SMEs in our area develop the digital skills to take their businesses to the next level.

“As we head into an ever more digital future, it is vital that SMEs stay ahead of the curve, especially those in the manufacturing and engineering sectors.

“Tim’s expertise in the automotive industry will be a great boon to us as we work with businesses in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to ensure they have the skills they need to thrive over the coming years.”

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What is Made Smarter?

Made Smarter is a national movement to drive growth amongst UK makers and advance the UK economy. Backed by world renowned businesses and the UK government, it will improve the development and adoption of emerging technologies. Making a real, everyday difference to people from the boardroom to the factory floor.

Made Smarter was formed following a nationwide review into UK manufacturing that recommended three key changes: More ambitious leadership. More innovation in developing new technologies. And faster implementation and adoption of those technologies. We’ll be boosting the digital skills of industry leaders, bringing businesses and research development together to develop new technology, and helping makers embrace new digital tools. In doing so, we’ll inspire the next industrial revolution and make the UK a leader in digital technologies.

For more information, visit  today.