A programme helping SME manufacturers in Cumbria access technology and digital skills will continue as part of Government plans to roll out the initiative nationally.

Launched in 2019, Made Smarter has supported 200 manufacturers in Cumbria and match funding 50 technology projects which are forecast to create 125 jobs, upskill more than 200 roles and boost the sub-regional economy by £24m.

This success has inspired the Government to expand the programme to cover all nine English regions in 2025-26 before working with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland from 2026-27.

The announcement by HM Treasury last month. Paul McLaren, Chair of Made Smarter North West’s Steering Group and Production Director for BAE Systems, said: “Made Smarter has demonstrated that targeted support can be a catalyst for growth and a real enabler for change.

“UK manufacturing is moving into a phase where resilience is as important as it has ever been. Made Smarter is helping SMEs create robust plans to deliver impactful results.”

Donna Edwards, Director of Made Smarter’s North West adoption programme, said: “I am delighted that the Government has recognised the extraordinary impact that Made Smarter’s adoption programme is having on digitalisation of SME businesses.

“Over the last four years we have worked tirelessly to help North West makers to start their digital journey by providing them with specialist advice to help them select the right approach, level of investment and tools for their business. The programme has proven the value technology and digital skills can bring to the manufacturing sector.

“While we await further details on the funding package, the commitment to a national roll-out is a huge vote of confidence in the contribution SMEs make to UK manufacturing. It will undoubtedly turbo charge the digital transformation of the sector.”