Funding boost for North East manufacturers
MANUFACTURERS across the North East are set to receive a major boost, after one of the region’s largest investment programmes secured a further £6 million in funding.
The Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Project (SAM) was launched in 2018 in a bid to help businesses become more productive and sustainable by supporting projects that enhance their products, processes and technology.
Since then, the programme – which was due to end in December 2020 - has proved a huge success, providing £800,000 in matched-funding - as well as practical and research support to over 200 SMEs across the region - and is set to continue supporting the sector after securing a further £6 million, taking it to June 2023.
The pioneering initiative was originally part-funded by ERDF – with a £2.6m commitment - and the University of Sunderland and industry, which invested £2.5m, and is aimed solely at small and medium sized manufacturers (under 250 employees) based in the North East LEP area, with an annual turnover of less than €50m (c. £45 million).
The project offers a range of assistance – tapping into significant academic resources, a team of industrial specialists and a number of factories with more than £1m worth of equipment - to offer both practical and research support, ensuring businesses can access a knowledge bank comprising some of the industry’s brightest brains and most advanced technology. This extension will also see SAM’s Technical Research and Development team grow, to offer even greater specialist industry support to companies.
Ken Teears, project manager at SAM, said: “We are absolutely delighted to announce that the project has been extended until June 2023. Over the last two years, we’ve provided funding and support to scores of businesses and have witnessed first-hand the impact this has had, from safeguarding and creating jobs to transforming entire production lines.
“Since the pandemic hit the UK in March, the impact it has had on the nation’s manufacturing sector has been catastrophic. However, it has provided opportunities such as re-shoring and bringing back in-house previously sub-contracted works, as well as business diversification. Now, more than ever, manufacturers need our support and this funding boost will go a long way to helping many of the region’s SMEs adapt and grow as we look to get through this crisis and keep Britain’s economy moving.”
In phase 1, SAM provided matched-funded grants of up to £50,000 to SMEs across the North East LEP area for capital, product validation, equipment and other financial
inhibitors to drive the strategic development of both product and process. This will continue in phase two, with an additional £1 million being put into the grant pot, together with some tweaks to the intervention rates (now at 25% in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland and 35% in County Durham).
Teears added: “This latest expansion means the project is now fully-funded until June 2023, however we can’t recommend early engagement enough. Our fully funded technical research and development support and grant fund are seeing a strong increase in interest as companies look to diversify, adapt and innovate. We have moved to monthly grant panels as we foresee the additional £1 million being very popular.
“If you’re an SME manufacturer, then the engineers, researchers, grants and access to capital are here to help you adapt to the inevitable process changes facing us post-pandemic and help take your business to the next level.
“Programmes like this are pivotal to ensuring the North East continues to lead the way in product, process and technology innovation – and we can’t stress enough how important it is that manufacturers get on board.”
One such company to receive support from the SAM Project is Washington-based Turnmill Engineering, a precision engineering firm that specialises in the production of consumables, jigs and fixtures and machine components.
The company, which has grown rapidly over the past 12 months, recently invested in three Mazak CNC lathes machines after tapping into funding support from SAM, which will help the company achieve its target of increasing output by 50% over the coming months as it looks to ramp up production.
Andrew Howe, co-founder and operations director, said: “Turnmill has continued to grow year-on-year and this investment in new machinery, which was supported by the SAM Project, will be key in helping us take the business to the next level.
“Over the next 12 months we are hoping to create two new roles as a result of this expansion, one of which will be an experienced engineer and one at entry-level, which will hopefully help safeguard the company for years to come.”
For more information on the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Project (SAM), visit: https://www.samprojectuos.co.uk
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing .