Gov launches £8m fund for digital transformation across the Midlands and North West

Small businesses can also get access to paid-for internships and expert advice, as well as the latest technologies

An engineer working with a robotic arm

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across the North West and Midlands now have access to £8 million in government funding to enable digital transformations.

The fund is part of the 'Made Smarter' initiative, which aims to help SMBs finance automation and digital technologies, and is part of a wider government strategy to build up the country's economy and help future proof smaller businesses.

The programme includes free expert advice, funded digital internships, specialised leadership and management training, and "match" funding for digital transformation projects.

It's available to small and medium-sized manufacturers across the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands. A pilot of the same programme was launched in the North West in 2019 where the government estimates that more than 1,000 SMBs were able to access funding for digital technologies.

The Bury-based Black Pudding Company are cited as an example of how the Made Smarter fund can help to upgrade a factory with automation and digital tools. The firm used the technologies to increase its output and is now a big provider of black pudding across the country.

Businesses in the North West will be able to continue accessing the fund and support for other regions will be launched in the coming months, the government has confirmed.

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"Having been actively involved in the North West pilot we have seen the power of this scheme to help a broad range of manufacturers exploit industrial digitalisation to increase productivity and employment," said Olly Benzecry, the commissioner of Made Smarter.

"It is great to see this approach now being made available more nationally, building on the strong foundation developed and proven in the North West over the past two years."

By supporting the adoption of digital technologies, like robotics and IoT, the government hopes to 'level up' various regions of the UK and create high-skilled, well-paid jobs and also reduce emissions.

Businesses can go to madesmarter.uk. to apply for the fund.

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