Assessing the growing pains at this year’s SME Growth Summit

Posted on 4 Oct 2021 by The Manufacturer

The SME Growth Summit 2021 incorporating the MTC’s Digitalising Manufacturing Conference takes place from 9-11 November. The first day of the event on 9 November will be virtual and 10-11 November will be Live in Liverpool. Key figures from the SME Manufacturing sector will get together to discuss the issues that matter relating to people, product and process. Ashley Oulton, conference production manager at The Manufacturer reports.

There is cause for optimism as the UK’s SME manufacturing sector is seeing growth at a level not achieved since October 1988, according to the most recent CBI Trends survey for the three months from May to July, and is expected to grow at a similar rate in the coming months.

The CBI surveyed 243 manufacturers who also noted an increase in total domestic and export orders together with growth in employment numbers. However, despite the apparent upturn, manufacturers are still facing difficulties recruiting and retaining skilled labour and sourcing materials and components which is limiting output. They also cite concerns about rising cost and price pressures, supply chain disruptions and the fastest increase in export prices in four years.

An agenda for growth

The content of the SME Growth Summit is based on in-depth research carried out over the past six months, resulting in the most relevant discussion topics for SMEs looking to grow. Here’s a sneak peak of what you can expect at the event, and what delegates are looking forward to.

Allan Norman, Factory Manager at Butcher’s Care.

Allan Norman, Factory Manager at Butcher’s Care. People and skills are important to Allan and he felt “there will be a huge people problem over the next five years due to the shortage of labour caused by the lack of employees willing to do the work that overseas labour did in the past”. Allan explained that Butcher’s Care have invested time and money in an apprenticeship programme and he is looking forward to sharing how they successfully involved parents in the onboarding process and invited them to attend meetings in the factory.

Emma Harbottle Group Managing Director at Analox Group

Emma Harbottle, Group Managing Director at Analox Group is looking forward to discussing talent management and company culture, specifically working with long serving and new employees and the use of digital tools to improve the production process.


Tim Smith, Manufacturing Manager at PlaceTim Smith, Manufacturing Manager at Place is keen to engage with his peers on the topics of digitalisation and data and systems integration and “how to automate in the most cost-effective way”.


Laura McBrown, Managing Director at G & B Electronics

Laura McBrown, Managing Director at G & B Electronics is looking forward to discussing leadership and topics such as overcoming obstacles caused by misunderstanding within the workforce.


Simon Walker, Director of Operations at LanderSimon Walker, Director of Operations at Lander is looking forward to sharing his thoughts on dealing with commodity shortages in the supply chain and new trading conditions with the EU and rest of the world.

Made Smarter Report

A recent report by Made Smarter (who will be hosting roundtable discussions at the SME Growth Summit) stated that “of the 84 businesses that received funding through the North West Industry 4.0 adoption plot, 61 embraced industrial digital technologies that connect their disparate systems and unify data residing in different sources”.

Successful projects included attaching sensors to traditional tools, intelligent software to run automated checks and fully automated machining systems to track and oversea every order.

SME Growth Summit and Digitalisation Manufacturing Conference, Liverpool on 9-11th November

The Manufacturer’s second annual SME Growth Summit and Digitalisation Manufacturing Conference will be taking place in Liverpool on 9-11 November in conjunction with the MTC’s annual Digitalising Manufacturing Conference.

The combined events (which will be virtual on the first day and live on the second two days) will offer a unique opportunity for manufacturers to develop their growth strategies and network with their peers.

Troy Barratt, Director at BAMUK, had this to say about the previous SME Growth Summit “I came to this event to learn more about what other companies are doing. We’re an SME business and it’s a great way for me to learn what big, medium and small companies are doing.

What I like most about The Manufacturer events is the small form facilitated discussion groups. After we hear a speaker, groups sit around of say six or eight people and we have a facilitated discussion around particular topics and that’s where I get the most practical learning, which I will then take back to my companies and say: we could do this?

Who’ll be there?

We’re bringing together senior professionals from across the UK’s SME manufacturing sector including defence, aerospace, automotive, food and drink, FMCG, pharmaceuticals and electronics.

What’s in it for you?

Our interactive conference format revolves around a series of roundtables, enabling you to sit next to your peers and topic experts and have your questions answered first-hand. This isn’t about passively listening to hours of keynotes – you’ll sit down face-to-face with leaders like you to share challenges and collaboratively develop solutions.

How does it work?

The morning of each day will be devoted to Digitalising Manufacturing and best practice for executing it with a programme put together by the MTC. The afternoons will consist of two one-hour interactive roundtable discussions sessions where you will have the opportunity to sit down with your peers to discuss the answers to important challenges such as:

  • How to attract the right talent, and how to make apprenticeships work for you?
  • How to make the most of new products and increase your market share?
  • Are your people and processes ready to scale?
  • Which financing method is right for your business?
  • Does your reach exceed your grasp?

Choose which discussion tables to join for each 60-minute discussion – enabling you to participate in four different discussions during the course of the two afternoons and have the conversations that matter to you.

Registration info

SME Growth Summit and the Digitalising Manufacturing Conference is for all senior professionals responsible for people, platform and process and for those looking to bring in new ideas into their business model.

To ensure a diverse cross-section of industry ideas and viewpoints, the top-tier attendees are drawn from across a range of sectors including defence, aerospace, automotive, food and drink, pharmaceuticals and electronics. If you’d like to attend simply, head over to the website and register your interest.

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