The Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Economic Growth Solutions (EGS), has helped companies across the UK to grow, develop new products and overcome production issues that were previously holding them back.
This has already led to 400 new jobs, with an additional 359 positions expected to be created once ongoing projects are completed. By the end of July, £1.6m of grant contributions have been made, with money in place to support another 2200 firms between now and March 2019.
Lorraine Holmes, chief executive officer of EGS, explained: “We are way above the targets we have set for ourselves, proving that there is a real appetite from SMEs for targeted business support that can help them grow.
“The difference with our programme is that it is delivered by manufacturing experts who understand the challenges companies are facing. They understand the language MDs are talking and can guide them on making the right decisions, before bringing in specialists on specific issues they are facing or opportunities they’re looking to explore.”
She continued: “1000 beneficiaries is just the start. We’ve still got a lot of grants to deliver and we want manufacturers to come forward and see how they can take advantage of the assistance on offer. It’s never been easier, as the process is quick and the scope of support can be tailored to the exact needs of the business.”
The Manufacturing Growth Programme was set up to fill the void left by the Manufacturing Advice Service (MAS) by providing access to specialist assistance to help manufacturers to grow and improve.
This is being achieved through an 18-strong network of experienced manufacturing growth managers (MGM), access to industry specialists and the opportunity to apply for an average grant of £1400, rising to a maximum £3,500.
Support can be used for leadership and management, R&D, lean manufacturing, productivity and capacity, quality systems and supply chain development.
Martin Coats, operations director at EGS, continued: “When firms come to us they receive a strategic review from one of our MGMs that determines what barriers are in the way and what support is needed to help them reach their potential.
“Since October 2016, the highest barrier with 15 per cent of clients was ‘Continuous Improvement’, followed by ‘Environmental’ and ‘Marketing and Market Knowledge’ (12 per cent each). Once the initial stage has been completed, we then bring in an expert who works with the management team to address these issues.”
He added: “We have achieved so much in such a short space of time and this could only have been done with the trust and hard work of our dedicated team. From the Manufacturing Growth Managers to the Project Coordinators in the office, everyone has been exceptional and we have received overwhelming positive feedback from clients, external experts, stakeholders and industry as a whole.”
Graham Turner, managing director at Dudley-based Bryland Fire Protection, used the MGP to boost sales by £2.7m to a record £9.2m.
“The process was nothing short of incredible. It allowed us to take a step back from day-to-day activities and look at why we are successful and where our core expertise lies. One of the outcomes was to have a concerted push on supplying solutions to data centres and that is already paying off with many new contract wins.”