£5million+ tech investment to support North West manufacturers

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

A new £5.6m programme has been launched to help SME manufacturers use the latest digital technologies.

CW4.0 will offer free hand-on support and local R&D to companies in Cheshire and Warrington.

The programme is open to manufacturers at every stage of digital transformation, from those needing to understand how emerging technology can benefit their operations, through to businesses further along the adoption curve looking to trial and implement cutting-edge tech - including sensor technology, advanced scanning, 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence and data analytics.

The programme is the successor to LCR4.0, which ran for 3 years and supported more than 300 SMEs in the Liverpool City Region.

It is led by the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), in partnership with the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Liverpool John Moore’s University, and the Northern Automotive Alliance.

“By bringing together the facilities, skills and experience of leading universities and industry experts, we will address company’s individual challenges, helping them to increase productivity and de-risk innovation by developing smarter products, processes and supply chains,” explained Andrew Borland, CW4.0 lead and Head of Commercial for the VEC.

“Many companies have been forced to adopt digital technologies at a breakneck pace during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the UK emerges from it, there is a massive opportunity to carry this momentum not just for companies that have started their digital journeys but also for those that have not. CW4.0 will ensure no SME is left behind in a world where the resilience, productivity and assurances afforded by digitised operations, become non-negotiable expectations of their customers.”

The target is to work with around 170 manufacturers over the next 2 years with the first tranche of businesses signed up  “within weeks.”

“Manufacturing is integral to Cheshire & Warrington’s economy, supporting 45,000 jobs and contributing £7.7bn to the sub region’s GVA.  Increasingly, digitalisation is the key to improving productivity and profitability and I’d encourage our SME manufacturing community to take advantage of this opportunity for fully-funded, expert support on their doorstep,” added Philip Cox, Chief Executive of Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership.

The initiative is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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