An initiative to help manufacturers adopt new digital technology has gained further funding for the north-west of England as it begins a nationwide roll-out.

Made Smarter has secured £6.1m from the government to continue for three more years after helping 2,500 small and medium-sized manufacturers with digital technology and skills in the region.

The success of the programme in the north-west has led to the national roll-out of Made Smarter which now includes the west of England and East Midlands as well as the north-east, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands.

In the north-west, it has helped more than 250 businesses, including several in the garment decoration and manufacturing sector, to invest in new technology to become more efficient, build resilience, increase their productivity and grow sustainably.

Alain Dilworth, programme manager for Made Smarter in the north-west, said: “While UK manufacturing navigated the pandemic and is working towards recovery, it is also bracing for further challenging times and economic bumps in the road ahead.

“Our rallying call to manufacturers is that digital technologies offer businesses opportunities to build resilience, innovate and transform. Digital tools can help manufacturers make marginal savings, set themselves apart from competitors in a volatile time, and make products quicker, affordable and more efficiently.

“This new funding means we can renew our ambition to reach out to the region’s SME manufacturers to connect them to the tools that will make an everyday difference to their businesses, build resilience and enable them to keep up with a fast-moving industry.”

To access the Made Smarter programme, businesses go through a five-minute registration followed by a digital transformation workshop to identify core challenges and provide a bespoke digital manufacturing roadmap.

Made Smarter’s team of expert advisors then pinpoint other ways that the programme can support a company’s digitalisation including skills and leadership development, and recommending the correct technology to invest in.

In the north-west, manufacturers supported by Made Smarter are set to create 1,250 new jobs, upskill almost 2,300 existing roles, deliver an extra £176 million in gross value added to the region, and help the UK meet its net zero target by 2050.

Businesses benefiting from the programme so far include decorative fabrics supplier Panaz, leisurewear manufacturer Derek Rose and textile manufacturer Lantex.