Digital technology specialists have been appointed across the West Midlands to boost productivity and growth as part of the £1.9 million Made Smarter programme.
The five experienced digital experts will be sharing their knowledge to improve the digital skills of employees to make a difference to the day-to-day operations of small and medium sized manufacturing and engineering businesses through a variety of ways including reducing costs, improving manufacturing times or helping to win more overseas contracts.
The region is divided into six Growth Hub areas. The Marches will be covered by Digital Technology Specialist Barry Jones, Worcestershire by Martyn Mangan, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire by Tim Kirby, the Black Country by Jit Gatcha, Coventry and Warwickshire by Paul Sullivan and Greater Birmingham will be covered by Paul, Martyn and Jit.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub is leading the one-year Made Smarter scheme with the region’s other Growth Hubs in Greater Birmingham and Solihull, the Black Country, Worcestershire, The Marches, and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The West Midlands Growth Hubs are working closely with the West Midlands Combined Authority and their strategic partners WMG, at the University of Warwick, and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “There are tens of thousands of people employed by small and medium sized manufacturers in the West Midlands, and this digital support should help them and their employers adapt to new and smarter ways of working, securing jobs and businesses for the future.”
“After the devastating impact of the pandemic on our economy, it’s exactly this kind of support that will help our region’s businesses and the people they employ, recover and seize the new opportunities that digital technology provides.”
Martyn has had a varied career ranging from painting Warburton factory ceilings to flying aircraft for the RAF. After 16 years in the Air Force, he worked his way to becoming a finance director for a furniture manufacturer in the North West.
He then covered advanced manufacturing for Advance West Midlands where he worked closely with all elements of the supply chain and following its closure, he became a consultant specialising in inward investment where his financial acumen and manufacturing knowledge led him to be part of most of the recent large UK investments.
He said: “I am proud to be working as part of Made Smarter because the potential benefits of increased productivity and competitiveness it brings to a company are a way of building on the West Midlands’ legacy and ensuring our position in the global business world.
“The experience I gained at Advance West Midlands proved invaluable since I gained an understanding of the concerns and issues which face SMEs, most of which still hold true to this day.
“I’m able to help companies deal with government and secure funding but I also know a great deal about the benefits of the UK supply chain.”
Phoebe Dawson, Director of Business Engagement at the Worcestershire LEP, said: “We are pleased to have Martyn on board as part of the Made Smarter programme to support Worcestershire businesses. His expertise and knowledge will further help local manufacturing SMEs to develop digital skills which can transform their business.
“In the current climate having digital skills is almost essential and can lead to significant productivity improvements for businesses and this is amplified for those in the engineering and manufacturing sector.
“I am looking forward to seeing how Martyn and the Made Smarter programme, working with the Worcestershire Growth Hub, can help manufacturing and engineering SMEs to develop their skills for the future.”