BAE Systems director to take leading role in county £20m digital boost scheme

Andrea Thompson
Andrea Thompson
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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 chairman of its steering board.

Based at BAE Systems in Lancashire, she 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 chairman of the Made Smarter steering group Andrea will oversee the development and operational delivery of the programme.

Joining her on the board, which features over a dozen representatives drawn from manufacturing firms from across the North West, will be Trevor Cassie, group operations director of BCW Engineering, based at Innovation Drive in Burnley.

Trevor and colleagues will monitor progress of the pilot project and report on information learned which will help to inform the proposed national roll-out of the Made Smarter concept.

Other outputs will include the ongoing promotion of Made Smarter, and the strengthening of relationships between Made Smarter and other partners working across the advanced manufacturing agenda.

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.”

Made Smarter was officially launched before Christmas 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. Companies interested in registering for more details should visit www.madesmarter.uk or contact their local Growth Hub.