West Midlands manufacturers urged to tap £1.89m funding pot

More than 130 West Midlands manufacturers were urged to access £1.89m funding yesterday, as part of the Manufacturing Advisory Service’s Supply Chain Conference at RAF Cosford.

Manufacturing SMEs from across the region were offered support until March 2015, to help them enter new markets, fund research and development, boost international trade and create new jobs.

Available grants range from small improvement plans to £10,000 of funding towards major transformational projects that could potentially result in 20% growth.

£500,000 has already been committed to over 80 firms, potentially safeguarding and creating in excess of 1200 jobs.

Lorraine Holmes, MAS area director for the North and West said:

“Automotive has obviously taken up a lot of the media headlines, but we are also seeing growth within aerospace, electronics and emerging markets, such as offshore wind…you only have to look at the recent Siemens announcement to see that.

“One of our roles at MAS is to ensure that our SMEs are aware of these opportunities and, more importantly, are in a position to take advantage of them.

This may involve making them more competitive, helping increase capacity, upskilling both the workforce and management team, even helping companies with relocation.

“The £1.89m we have left – a combination of the ERDF Growth Programme and core Government funding – can really unlock potential and provide the transformation some manufacturers are striving for.”

Sponsored by Lloyds Bank, the MAS Supply Chain Conference featured keynote addresses from Jaguar Land Rover’s Rita Davey on future proofing engineering skills, as well as, Tim Holmes of Aero Engine Controls discussing meeting expectations of aerospace customers.

John Russell, former CEO of Manganese Bronze, said:

“It was great to see such a big turnout and the genuine appetite for growth that currently exists in our supply chain.

“We have one of the biggest opportunities in decades and we can’t let it slip away. Every effort must be made to cultivate the optimism, provide support when necessary and let our SME manufacturers do what they do best.”

“The two examples we heard from today in Strip Tinning and Arrowsmith Engineering (Coventry) shows what can be achieved with a best practice approach, the right levels of investment and a product/service customers want to buy.

“Both firms have experienced growth in automotive and aerospace respectively and encouragingly they both want a bigger share of the global market.”