NWDA launches manufacturing plan

A manufacturing strategy plan for the north west has been launched by the Northwest Regional Development Agency alongside £20m of funding to improve the Northwest Manufacturing Advisory Service.

The NWDA’s Strategy and Action Plan outlines a 10-year framework for the development of manufacturing in the region, as well as a three-year, annually assessed action plan to provide the support necessary for businesses to make the most of the upturn.

The plan has identified a number of strategic themes to improve the image of north west manufacturing and build on its existing strengths. These include increasing capacity for innovation, improving collaboration between business and universities and increasing access to information for businesses.

The document also takes a look at the importance of the manufacturing sector in the UK as a whole and highlights key actions to ensure continued support for small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses. This will be delivered with the help of an additional £20m funding from the NWDA and Northwest European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to drive forward MAS Northwest.

Through programmes such as this, the NWDA claims to have increased productivity, improved supply-chain performance and increased innovation, leading to cost savings of £739m for north west manufacturers and securing around 8790 jobs.

Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the NWDA, said: ‘The north west’s manufacturing sector is the biggest of any English region and remains a major driver for improving GVA, contributing £20.3bn to the regional economy.

‘The new strategy and action plan supports the vision of a modern manufacturing sector in the region that will be innovative, enterprising, highly skilled and well led. Furthermore, our new funding for the enhanced MAS service ensures the excellent Manufacturing Advisory Service continues to support our manufacturing organisations as we progress through this challenging economic period.’

The manufacturing sector in the north west currently employs around 400,000 people and contributes £20.3bn a year to the region’s economy. According to the NWDA, the region is home to the largest aerospace sector in the UK, the second largest automotive sector in the UK and has the most significant concentration of advanced flexible materials in Europe.

Business minister Ian Lucas, responsible for manufacturing at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, said: ‘Manufacturing is one of the central pillars of the British economy. We are the world’s sixth largest manufacturer and the future strength of our economy will be built on high-value added goods and services that are already produced by businesses across the region and the country.

‘We are working with all Regional Development Agencies to ensure the right conditions are in place to maximise new opportunities. It’s great that NWDA has recognised the importance of manufacturing in the North West. The new strategy and investment will help to ensure that manufacturing in the region goes from strength to strength.’