Innovative SMEs will be critical to the success of the next industrial revolution which is transforming the manufacturing sector.
The call from industry leaders came as part of the official launch of LCR 4.0 in Liverpool last week.
The first of its kind in the country, LCR 4.0 is a new business support programme aimed at helping manufacturers in the Liverpool City Region to take advantage of the opportunities associated with the uptake of digital technologies in advanced manufacturing.
LCR 4.0 will allow businesses to access practical support and connect with other SMEs to help them unleash the transformational potential of the next industrial revolution, often referred to as Industry 4.0.
This latest evolution of the manufacturing sector offers opportunities for companies to increase productivity, respond more quickly to customers’ needs and grow sustainably. This is achieved through the adoption of technologies that enable increased connectivity between digital and physical assets.
Steve Warren, region director (North West) at EEF, one of the key note speakers at the LCR 4.0 launch, called on businesses to drive innovation from the top down and integrate IT departments into board level decisions.
Simon Reid, sector manager for advanced manufacturing at the Liverpool City Region LEP, said: “SMEs have to want to innovate and for some this could mean a major culture change is required.
“There can be an attitude that embracing new digital technologies is something for big businesses, not SMEs, but if they don’t they could get left behind as the industry continues to evolve in order to meet customers’ expectations.
“In Liverpool we are in lucky that we have world class technical and knowledge assets on our doorstep that can give SMEs the support they need to find out what opportunities are available for their business.”
Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the LCR 4.0 programme is being delivered in partnership by some of the region’s key knowledge and scientific assets: the University of Liverpool (through its Virtual Engineering Centre), Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LCR LEP), Liverpool John Moores University (Faculty of Engineering and Technology), the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Hartree Centre and Sensor City.
“The focus can’t just be on manufacturers though,” added Simon. “We need innovators to come forward and provide the technologies which are going to help our local businesses to continue to compete nationally and internationally.
“We have a strong digital community in the region which we should tap in to if we are to see our manufacturers upskill and adapt to embrace new ways of working.”
LCR 4.0 is a part of the Liverpool City Region Local Growth Hub.