The CW4.0 initiative urges SME manufacturers to not miss out on fully-funded, hands-on support with R&D
The first SME businesses to benefit from the Cheshire and Warrington 4.0 (CW4.0) digital transformation programme have gone on to invest a combined £91,390 in adopting new technologies in addition to launching new products and processes.
The cohort of businesses – ranging from a Daresbury-based life sciences start-up, to a maritime engineering company in Tattenhall – have received free, hands-on R&D support through the ERDF-funded project, led by the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC).
The first ten completed projects have seen businesses in the region adopt technologies including Artificial Intelligence, 3D printing, Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics into their operations. The projects have involved diverse applications, from the rapid prototyping and testing of new products to adopting immersive technologies to improve the customer experience.
The £5.6m CW4.0 initiative was launched last year to help the region’s manufacturing SMEs to become more competitive and productive. The project has already received applications from 144 businesses, including eight start-ups, and its organisers are now urging other eligible businesses to register their interest before the project closes in 2023.
Craig Beck, CW4.0 Engagement Lead at the Virtual Engineer Centre, said: “CW4.0 is all about helping manufacturing SMEs to realise and achieve their full potential with the help of digital technologies. We are incredibly proud to see the programme has already helped a number of businesses in key industries overcome challenges and it’s exciting to witness academia and industry collaborate to address industrial problems faced by businesses with a regionalised approach.
“We are now taking applications for the next cohort of businesses and urge anyone interested in applying to take advantage of this opportunity which offers fully funded support and guidance from an array of experts whilst gaining access to world-class facilities.”
Among the successful projects is Runcorn-based Evolution Dental Studio which has worked with CW4.0 to adopt 3D printing, allowing it to bring the manufacturing of dental implants in-house, boosting its productivity and revenue.
Warrington-based Bio Products Group has employed IoT technology to accurately test the performance of its Biopipe product, which prevents the build-up of bacteria in water pipes causing blockages and leaks. The project has enabled the business to demonstrate the effectiveness of its product, reducing its time to market and realising new business opportunities.
Keel Boat Services, based at Tattenhall Marina, has adopted 2D design software to digitise previously hand-drawn designs for canal boat refurbishments, creating efficiencies in its design process and enabling customers to more easily customise their orders.
CW4.0 is being delivered by a consortium of North West organisations with decades of experience in helping businesses through their digital transformation. It is led by the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), in partnership with the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Liverpool John Moore’s University, and the Northern Automotive Alliance. The initiative is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).