LCR 4.0, a part ERDF funded business support programme for the manufacturing sector, has created 80 new jobs and added £2.6m GVA to date. These figures were revealed at its Technology Showcase event which took place at Sci-Tech Daresbury last week.
It is now predicted that LCR 4.0 enabled SMEs will go on to add an additional 955 jobs and £31.1m GVA to the local economy in the next three years.
Working collaboratively with local businesses, the project has given almost 300 SMEs the tools and resources to explore the opportunities and challenges of Industry 4.0 technologies, such as big data, systems integration, Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR) and 3D printing. In using this advanced technology, SMEs can increase productivity, reduce costs and pioneer first-of-its-kind innovations.
The Technology Showcase event was a celebration of the success and impact of the LCR 4.0 programme, as well as a platform to highlight the additional support and funding available to SMEs across the North West.
Event attendees were welcomed by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram as he praised LCR 4.0, its partners and the SMEs it works with for their contribution in positioning Liverpool City Region as a global leader in advanced manufacturing.
“There is a truly entrepreneurial spirit running through Liverpool City Region,” Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said. “Because of this, the region can become, and in my opinion is becoming, a manufacturing global hotspot. Programmes like LCR 4.0 are making that possible, establishing innovative and dynamic manufacturing communities across the six boroughs.”
Several LCR 4.0 enabled SMEs took to the stage to give real life examples of advanced manufacturing in situ and there were several thought leadership talks from businesses including CNC Robotics which spoke about the ethics of robotics.
A recent survey by LCR 4.0 found that 82 per cent of SMEs say the programme changed their understanding of Industry 4.0, while over two thirds of businesses said it helped them to bring a product to market quicker. Innovative capacity was also enhanced in 82 per cent of respondents and three quarters were encouraged to be more ambitious as a result of the project.
Commenting on the survey results, Dr Andy Levers, technical director at the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) and technical lead for LCR 4.0, said: “These figures are real testament to the impact of the LCR 4.0 programme to date and that, if a business starts to operate in a more innovative way, they will generate better results quicker.”
SMEs are now being encouraged to get involved with Made Smarter UK – a new £20 million initiative set to engage with 3,000 manufacturers across the North West to embed advanced digital technology across the sector. With this new programme, it is thought the region’s manufacturing sector could generate a 25% increase in productivity and add £115m to the North West economy.
“We’re well on our way to fulfil our potential as a hub of advanced manufacturing,” Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram continued. “What we need now is to collaborate and embrace new techniques and processes which will drive growth. The £20m Made Smarter initiative will follow in LCR 4.0’s footsteps and offer hundreds of SME manufacturers the chance to do just that, backed by a programme of guidance, advice and grants.”
The LCR 4.0 project, which is due to come to close later this year, has been delivered by partners University of Liverpool’s VEC, Liverpool John Moores University, Sensor City, STFC Hartree Centre and the Liverpool City Region LEP.
In 2018, the LCR 4.0 programme was hailed as an ‘exemplar project’ in the Made Smarter report and featured in the Top 100 European Digital Champions list by the Financial Times.
Event SME case studies: