The UK’s manufacturing industry has sadly experienced decline in recent years due in the main to technical advancement. In 2020 UK GDP from manufacturing fell 11% year on year. However, as was clearly evident during the Covid pandemic, the UK’s incredible manufacturing infrastructure, which pivoted at great speed to produce vital PPE and hospital equipment was instrumental in helping the country through one of its toughest periods of history.
While these digital advances are here to stay, they do in fact offer an exciting opportunity to existing manufacturing firms to make their product offering relevant to consumers. On top of the predicted economic growth period which lies ahead there is certainly plenty for firms to be optimistic about. For many small to medium sized firms, however, it may feel rather daunting knowing where to start when taking a business to the next level, particularly in such a turbulent industry. But there is help at hand. The Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) is the UKs largest and leading business support programme offering free support, advice and grants to manufacturing SMEs.
Rhi spoke to local Regional Manager, Stephen Sharp to find out more about the programme and the benefits it can offer businesses.
Can you tell me some more about why the MGP was launched and what success it has had to date?
The programme, which aims to help SME manufacturing businesses by identifying, understanding, and removing barriers to growth, is part of a £10m European Regional Development Fund initiative and provides support across 18 LEP regions. Since launching in October 2016, it has delivered over 6,200 improvement projects, created over 5,200 new jobs and supported almost 4,000 business to create new products, open up new markets, improve productivity and become more competitive.
What advantages can the programme offer businesses?
It offers a whole host of benefits to businesses, these include an independent business review to identify opportunities for business improvement and growth, access to grants to co-fund improvement projects and the opportunity to connect with a wider network of contacts to maximise growth opportunities.
Once a business signs up to the programme, what happens next and what kind of support can they expect to receive?
On signing up, the business will be assigned a dedicated, experienced Manufacturing Growth Manager who will provide on-going, tailored support throughout the time on the programme. This support will include a detailed action plan guiding businesses through the process of improvement, access to a comprehensive business diagnostic tool, which will identify opportunities and create plans for growth, as well as providing access to the best external experts to implement the plan.
What specific benefits are there for individuals signing up to the programme?
The programme offers individuals insight into the risks, issues, gaps and opportunities for their business enabling them to better plan for the future, as well as understand what needs to be done to make improvements. It also provides the chance to work with new expertise including access to the knowledge of an experienced Manufacturing Growth Manager.
Can you give any examples of businesses that have benefitted from the programme?
Yes, we have helped a wide variety of firms ranging from an activewear brand who launched a new social fitness app which led to a multimillion turnover through to a homewares manufacturer who improved their online marketing to tap into the home improvement market. Here are some links to find out more about these projects;
Sundried Essex based activewear brand, creates multimillion turnover & launches new social fitness app | Manufacturing Growth Programme
WPSI Group Black Country manufacturer improves online marketing to tap into the flourishing ‘home improvement’ market | Manufacturing Growth Programme
Are there any outlay costs to businesses?
The programme is an ERDF Match Funded programme, where a business could receive up to 33% or 43% of the cost for business support dependent on location.
How much time would a business need to dedicate if they would like to get involved?
This is very much dependant on the nature of the project and can be anything between 2 or 10 days across the four-month project period.
Once a business signs up to the MGP, how long does the support last for?
It initially lasts for four months, however there is follow on support available after that if needed.
Thanks for taking the time to give us some insight into the programme, it sounds like a fantastic opportunity and one which can clearly make a huge difference for businesses looking to grow.
If you are a manufacturing SME and keen to find out more about the programme, please visit manufacturinggrowthprogramme.co.uk or contact the MGP Regional Manager:
Stephen Sharp firstname.lastname@example.org M:07973 778 222