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Digital accelerator boost for 30 Greater Manchester SMEs

An industry and academic partnership has supported 30 local businesses and manufacturers to innovate and grow through an innovative three-month industrial digital accelerator scheme.


An industry and academic partnership has supported 30 local businesses and manufacturers to innovate and grow through an innovative three-month industrial digital accelerator scheme.

The fully-funded IN4 Access programme – a partnership between innovation hub operator IN4 Group and Lancaster University as part of the Greater Manchester AI Foundry – gave participants the ability to unlock new products and services and uncover business growth opportunities using Industry 4.0 technology.

The three-month accelerator provided a series of masterclasses, workshops, seminars, panel discussions and networking to business leaders and senior engineers, offering exclusive access to learning and coaching from leading representatives from the likes of Siemens Digital Industries and BAE Systems.

The programme focused on three key areas: machine conditioning and monitoring, supply chain digitalisation and process automation using IoT (Internet of Things).

Simon Bodill, General Manager of Bury-based manufacturer Simkiss Control Systems, one the programme delegates, said:

“We joined the course because we weren’t sure about AI. As a solutions provider, the fear is being left behind. This has opened our eyes to the potential and endless possibilities of AI, but also how we access it and how we learn. We wouldn’t have had a clue where to start and this course has really given us some good channels to start working on.”

Chris Lambert, Programme Manager at the Department of Engineering at Lancaster University, added:

“The AI Foundry accelerator has been a great success. Participating delegates, made up of SMEs from Greater Manchester, have spoken passionately about the value to their business, their customers and themselves that this programme has provided. As a result of participation, those SMEs will go on to generate new products, make productivity improvements and open up new markets because of their increased understanding of AI and digital technologies.”

The £6 million Greater Manchester AI Foundry project was developed by Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Manchester, the University of Salford and Lancaster University, and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. For more information, visit gmaifoundry.ac.uk.

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