WMG at the University of Warwick and the Midlands Assembly Network (MAN) have announced that by working together they have boosted sales by over £1m and are set to create more than 10 new jobs.
The SME team at WMG and MAN, a consortium of 10 manufacturers based in the West Midlands, have been working together on a number of research led innovation projects, including the development of novel prototypes, materials analysis and the capture of funding for capital equipment.
They have now agreed to collaborate on a long-term innovation strategy that will also encompass leadership support to equip the management teams with the skills and know-how to implement their growth plans.
Barkley Plastics, one of the companies within the group, has seen a huge upturn in turnover through the collaboration. The WMG SME Team supported the firm on developing a range of storage solutions for phone chargers and ear phones now being sold in Marks & Spencer, as well as the recently launched “Loqski” product for the ski market.
Maurice Cassidy, technical director at Barkley Plastics, said: “WMG has been instrumental in helping us gain new business over recent months. The recent agreement of a long-term collaboration between WMG and the MAN Group is going to advance our capabilities even further and support innovation plans to come to fruition.”
Specialist PCB prototyping and assembly company SMT Developments in Warwick has also gained over £230,000 in investment for plant and capital equipment through its collaboration with WMG. The company worked with Dr Ben Wood to complete a ‘Growing Places’ application that resulted in funding to support the extension of its facility on Heathcote Way and equipment to provide new services from the larger unit.
Tony Hague, chair of the MAN Group, said: “We have very big ambitions for the future, with my company PP Electrical Systems Ltd alone expecting to double turnover by 2015. Collaborating with an academic department like WMG gives us the ability to access the very latest technology and capability early on, so we can be first to market with new products and services.
“We have found WMG’s approach to working with industry to be highly responsive, efficient and effective and are delighted to have formed a long-term agreement and plan for future collaboration activity.”
Dr Mark Swift, head of SME programmes at WMG, said: “We are delighted to be working with the MAN Group who have an ambitious innovation and growth strategy. WMG is all about applying research to the real world and through the MAN Group we have been able to make innovative ideas become a reality, which has led to new jobs and growth within the manufacturing sector.”
The Midlands Assembly Network (MAN) is a group of ten sub-contract manufacturers, which work together to deliver turnkey projects and bring work back to the UK.
The collective, which employs over 650 people and records combined sales in excess of £65m, provides access to precision pressings, castings, design, etching, injection moulding, wiring looms, toolmaking, PCB assembly and electrical control systems.
Member firms include Advanced Chemical Etching, Alucast, Barkley Plastics, Brandauer, FW Cables, Grove Design, Mec Com, PP Electrical Systems, Westley Engineering and SMT Developments.