Speaking to manufacturers on 19 February, Business Secretary Greg Clark praised the early impact of the Made Smarter North West programme, which already has 140 manufacturers on board.
The Business Secretary was speaking at the National Manufacturing Conference in London, organised by EEF, the manufacturer’s organisation - which is re-branding as Make UK.
In his speech, he agreed that manufacturing was being undervalued in the UK, especially around the sector’s concerns about leaving the EU in March:
“There is, I think, a lack of adequate understanding, historically, in this country, as to how intrinsic manufacturing is to the success of our service economy.
“There are so many lingering misconceptions that I’m sure you are as frustrated as I am about, that people have the wrong view of manufacturing.”
“[When] the EEF…asked the British public to guess how UK manufacturing ranked globally, the average guess was 56th. Actually, we’re ninth in the world, and can rise more strongly. Kazakhstan is 56th.”
The Secretary argued that countering this perception was one of the purposes of the Made Smarter initiative, which is being piloted in the North West to help smaller firms adopt cutting-edge digital technologies.
There had been a “huge response” to the initiative from right across the UK, he explained:
“I hope that Made Smarter will support small businesses, and small manufacturers right across the UK. In pursuance of that goal the first wave is in the North West, working with the towns and cities of the North West - Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Lancashire, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester - to make sure that small businesses there are first to benefit, to really reinforce what is already a strong cluster of manufacturing excellence.
“There’s been a huge response in the North West, with 140 businesses signed up already to learn from the best in the country as to how they can spread industrial digitalisation. We want this pilot to become a beacon for schemes in regions right across the country.”
For the latest manufacturing news straight to your inbox