Small to medium-sized (SME) manufacturers across England have been given a £6.5m funding boost to help them recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and address key barriers to growth.
The Manufacturing Growth Programme, which is funded by ERDF and delivered by Oxford Innovation Services, has been extended until December 2022 and will give a further 2,800 companies access to industry experts and grants to tackle immediate business issues and support improvement plans.
This additional backing is expected to help safeguard/create 3,500 jobs and takes the total package of support the initiative is able to deliver to £18.3m across 17 regions, with businesses in Sheffield able to apply for the first time.
Firms are given access to a dedicated local Manufacturing Growth Manager, who will use an in-depth business diagnostic tool to develop an individual action plan and support business projects, ranging from environmental improvements, leadership and management and marketing to people and skills, quality and supply chain development.
Alex Auger, founder of the Juice Executive, is one of the youngest business leaders to access MGP support
Managing Director of the Manufacturing Growth Programme, Martin Coats, commented: “All the media attention is on the headline manufacturers and how they are coping in the wake of Covid-19…it’s our job to look at how the smaller manufacturers supporting these big businesses are performing and what we can do to help them.”
He continued: “Helping manufacturers is not easy and you need a tailored approach, delivered by experts who know what it is like working in industry.
“The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), their local Growth Hubs and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government have seen first-hand the value we add to firms in their respective areas and this has resulted in a further commitment to support us for another two and a half years.”
The Manufacturing Growth Programme is the only dedicated business support programme for SME manufacturers in England, supporting more than 3,000 companies since its launch in October 2016.
It has assisted firms from more than 15 different manufacturing sectors to increase productivity and competitiveness, which has reportedly added tens of millions of pounds to the economy and created in excess of 4,100 jobs, safeguarding thousands more in the process.
A&M EDM is one of the companies that has already benefitted from MGP support
A recent survey delivered by MGP, in partnership with South West Manufacturing Advisory Service, revealed an urgent need for greater and faster financial support from the government as they confront plummeting sales, production volumes and the prospect of job cuts amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Coats noted: “It is no great surprise to see that every indicator for confidence among firms appears to have worsened over the last six months. That said, it is heartening to see that some companies are adapting to the situation by diversifying their processes and product ranges in all manner of innovative ways.”
“While the number of projects we have supported has been maintained since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, demand has shifted from the larger SMEs towards micro businesses.
“This has also led to a change in the type of assistance. There is more demand for shorter-term marketing and product development projects and less for productivity and capacity building projects.
“As the economy recovers, it will be important to shift this pattern back, ensuring that support reaches larger SME manufacturers as well and delivers projects that rebuild capacity.”