The UK’s Treasury has announced its commitment to expand the Made Smarter Adoption Programme to all nine English regions between 2025 and 2026, before working with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland from 2026 to 2027.
The Made Smarter programme helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the plastics manufacturing sector access technology and digital skills, including additive manufacturing, data and systems integration, robotics and process control automation, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things.
Made Smarter was created following an industry-led review of how UK manufacturing industries can prosper through digital tools and innovation. Launched in the northwest in 2019, a region that concentrates 15% of the UK’s plastics and rubber firms, Made Smarter has engaged with 2,500 manufacturers and funded 334 technology projects, which are forecast to create 1,550 jobs, upskill 2,772 existing roles, and increase Northwest gross Value Added (GVA) by GBP 242 million.
The commitment was announced alongside plans for GBP 4.5 billion in funding for British manufacturing. According to the British Plastics Industry, over 155,000 people are employed in the UK plastics industry, making it one of the largest sector employers in UK manufacturing. The industry processes 3.4 million tonnes of plastic annually, produces 1.7 million tonnes, and has a GBP 25 billion turnover.
“This announcement by the Treasury clearly demonstrates that UK manufacturing matters,” said Brian Holliday, co-chair of the Made Smarter Commission and managing director of Siemens Digital Industries. "It represents a tremendous investment boost for our makers that will enable the confidence to invest in innovation, productivity, and sustainability. Key sectors benefit but so does the long tail of small and medium firms which is really important to directly address our recent challenges of weak overall productivity and investment,” he added.