Key appointment to support group with £20m to help North West manufacturers

Andrea Thompson

Made Smarter, the recently launched £20m initiative to help the North West’s manufacturing sector through the adoption of more industrial digital technologies, has appointed Andrea Thompson as the chair of its steering board.

Based at BAE Systems in Lancashire, Ms Thompson is BAE’s managing director for Europe and international programmes.

This includes responsibility for BAE’s role in the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft programme, the world’s largest defence project.

Prior to this, Andrea spent several years working in the United States, primarily in the automotive sector, before returning to the UK to work for major names including Leyland Trucks and Rolls Royce.

In her role as chair of the Made Smarter steering group, Andrea will oversee the successful development and operational delivery of the Made Smarter programme.

The steering board, which features more than a dozen representatives drawn from manufacturing firms from across the North West, will also monitor progress of the pilot project and report on learnings which will help to inform the proposed national roll-out of the Made Smarter concept.

Other outputs from the steering board will include the ongoing promotion of Made Smarter locally, regionally and nationally, and the strengthening of relationships between Made Smarter and other partners working across the advanced manufacturing agenda in the North West.

The board will also be responsible for ensuring good governance during the lifetime of the Made Smarter North West pilot.

Ms Thompson said: “Having spent many years working in global industries, like engineering, automotive and aerospace, I know how respected and admired the North West of England’s manufacturing tradition is.

“However, much of this is down to the legacy of the first industrial revolution which started in this region.

“With Made Smarter we now have a real opportunity to kick-start a new era of technology-led manufacturing, driven by innovative and ambitious SMEs, throughout the whole of the North West.

“I am very proud to have been appointed to the role of chair for the steering group, and I am relishing the opportunity to helping shape and develop this exciting project which has the potential to transform the region’s industrial economy.”

Made Smarter’s director, Donna Edwards, said: “Andrea was born and brought up in the North and also has extensive international experience across many key manufacturing sectors.

“The contribution her and the employer-led steering board we have established will make to the successful delivery of Made Smarter will be invaluable.

“I greatly look forward to working with her and other board members to drive the programme forward and boost the North West’s economy through the adoption of new technologies across our manufacturing base.”

Juergen Maier, chief executive of Siemens and co-chair of the national Made Smarter Commission, said: “I am delighted Andrea has agreed to become the chair of the North West steering group.

“She will be a fantastic addition to the wider Made Smarter network of key business leaders we have brought together, both regionally and nationally, to help develop and deliver this project.”

Also on the steering board with Andrea is Emma Degg, chief executive of the North West Business Leadership Team.

She said of the Made Smarter programme: “There is no better region in the UK to pilot this important project.

“The North West was home to the first industrial revolution and our business have all the talent, ambition and drive to be a leader in the fourth.

“The North West Business Leadership Team has been proud to have been involved in bringing this important partnership together, and we are firmly committed to ensuring it now delivers real and lasting change for SMEs right across the region.”

Made Smarter was officially launched before Christmas in Liverpool.

The launch of Made Smarter, in Liverpool

Backed by government and some of the world’s biggest businesses, the Made Smarter North West programme is set to engage with 3,000 SME manufacturers based in Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region to boost productivity.

Companies that get involved in the project will get the chance to access match-funded support and advice regarding how new technologies could revolutionise their manufacturing processes and reap the benefits of more efficient production.

Around 600 North West manufacturing SMEs will also qualify for more intensive business support, gaining access to match-funded grants, bespoke consultancy, mentoring and other resources which will help them to accelerate commercial growth.

It is anticipated that, by becoming a test-bed for new types of technologies and advanced processes, the region’s manufacturing sector could generate a 25% increase in productivity and add £115m to the North West economy.

Embracing the principles of Made Smarter could also help to open up new markets, increase exports and create thousands of additional high-skilled, high-value jobs in the region.

The Made Smarter steering group members are: Andrea Thompson, BAE Systems, Samlesbury, Lancashire (chair); Luke Walsh, Brainboxes, Speke, Liverpool; Lee Omar, Red Ninja, Liverpool Science Park, Liverpool; Alan Purvis, Metter Toledo, Salford, Greater Manchester; Leanne Holmes, Crane Payment Innovations, Oldham, Greater Manchester; Jayne Moorby, Oxley Group, Ulverston, Cumbria; Gill Marsden, NIS, Chorley, Lancashire; Trevor Cassie, BCW, Burnley, Lancashire; Andrea Hough, AT Engine Controls, Swinton, Greater Manchester; Mike Lewis, Lambert, Tadcaster, Yorkshire; Simon Keogh, Siemens Digital Factory, Congleton, Cheshire; Ian Funnell, ABB, Daresbury, Warrington; and Emma Degg, North West Business Leadership Team, Daresbury, Warrington.