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University support boosts West Midlands economy by £450 million – for every £1 invested, £22 returned to the local economy

WMG at the University of Warwick has boosted the West Midlands economy by £450 million – with every £1 invested into WMG’s small and medium enterprise (SME) programmes, around £22 has returned to the local economy.

Celebrating 20 years of tailored business support, WMG has delivered manufacturing expertise to 15,000 SMEs in the Midlands. It has supported the creation of more than 13,000 jobs, 350 new businesses and 355 internships over the last two decades.

WMG has delivered critical projects to SMEs to help them succeed in digitalisation, business change and product design. A key ongoing project is helping SMEs mange the energy crisis with a specialised toolkit and tailormade roadmaps to help organisations reach Net Zero.

As a High Value Manufacturing Catapult (a government initiative driving manufacturing innovation), WMG is playing a pivotal role in the revival and development of the West Midlands and the wider UK manufacturing base.

Picture of Dr Mark SwiftDr Mark Swift, Director of SME Engagement at WMG, University of Warwick, said: "Our work over the last 20 years has shown that targeted, high value support can help SME manufacturers accelerate growth, improve productivity, and create jobs.

"It is vital that we continue to be a guiding force to help businesses implement new technologies, develop their teams, and continue to innovative and prosper. We have an important legacy to protect and continue and I am delighted to lead a team of industry experts working tirelessly to do just this."

Adrian Williams, Managing Director, Pashley Cycles, said: "Working with WMG over the years has given Pashley the opportunityPicture of Adrian Williams, Managing Director, Pashley Cycles to take advantage of skills, expertise and facilities which we would never otherwise have access to. This is really helping us create robust and reliable, yet lightweight products which we’re confident will give us a competitive advantage in the market.”

Peter Davies, Co-Chair of the Manufacturing Assembly Network and CEO of James Lister & Sons, said: "WMG has been an outstanding source of advice, guidance, support and access to funding opportunities for all members of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN).

"The specialist assistance has helped us unlock innovations, bring new services to market, achieve efficiency gains and, in more recent years, accelerate our move towards sustainable manufacturing and taking advantage of the green economy.

"WMG 'gets' manufacturing and what we need and is happy to work with us to achieve an outcome that works for all parties."

Founded by the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya forty years ago, WMG began offering tailored support to SMEs in the Midlands in 2004.

Read more about WMG and the manufacturing supply chain here. 

Media contact
University of Warwick press office contact:
Annie Slinn 07876876934
Communications Officer | Press & Media Relations | University of Warwick Email:

Fri 05 Apr 2024, 10:09 | Tags: SME HVM Catapult Sustainability

New award wins shine light on the importance of industry-university partnerships

WMG at the University of Warwick has secured funding, alongside other departments at the University, for eight new Innovate UK funded Accelerated Knowledge Transfer (AKT) projects, designed to rapidly inject innovation capacity within UK industry.

With over 500 applications and just a third of projects awarded a slice of the £5 million, WMG was successful because of its strong industry ties and robust business relationships.

Like regular Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, which have been funded by successive governments for almost 50 years, AKT projects provide organisations with a specialist academic teamPicture shows example of industry-university partnership including a postgraduate student. The WMG team will:

  • Identify innovation blockers
  • Evaluate an innovation concept
  • Find solutions to immediate as well as longer term challenges
  • Accelerate new thinking and processes
  • Develop new business models and expand capacity

One WMG industry partner set to benefit is Jaltek Systems Ltd. The team at Jaltek will be using the funding to continue with the integration of robotics technology into processes.

Andy Dowling, Head of WMG’s SME Business Development team said: "These awards are testament to the University's continued drive and success in establishing collaborative relationships with industry through the Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme. As only 35% of the AKT applications were awarded Innovate UK funding, we are proud of our achievements and are looking forward to working on this set of exciting projects."

Picture shows Jaltek Systems LimitedSteve Blythe of Jaltek Systems Ltd said: “We are continually looking to improve productivity through training, improved processes, and automation. We saw good practice using cobots (collaborative robots) in other businesses and reached out to WMG to support our plans. The funding for the AKT will help us further our activity in this area.”

The 16-week long projects will start from April 2024 and WMG will be recruiting talented graduates to join the team. For more information contact:

To find out more about WMG’s SME Programmes visit:

Thu 07 Mar 2024, 12:20 | Tags: SME HVM Catapult Partnerships Research

WMG staff praised for international manufacturing project

Picture shows WMG staff supporting the CCA in implementing Manufacturing 4.0 in Mauritius.Three members of staff from WMG, at the University of Warwick, have been praised for their ‘excellent’ work to support the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda (CCA) in implementing Manufacturing 4.0 in Mauritius.

The CCA is a major member-state led initiative to grow intra-commonwealth trade and investment and promote expanded investment to support global growth, create employment, and promote knowledge exchange among Commonwealth members.

The WMG team led by Dr Hamid Moradlou together with colleagues Tarek El-Said from the Supply Chain Group, and Onur Eren from the SME Group, responded to a funding call from the Commonwealth Secretariat to support Commonwealth countries with their connectivity agenda.

The trio were praised for delivering a well-received capacity building programme for local policymakers and manufacturing businesses including comprehensive understanding of Manufacturing 4.0; strategic vision and roadmap development; effective technology integration; change management and innovation; policy navigation; and performance measurement and sustainability.

Dr Hamid Moradlou explained: “This project was a great example of collaboration between industry, academia, and policymakers. The initiative was equallyPicture shows WMG staff supporting the CCA in implementing Manufacturing 4.0 in Mauritius supported by both the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Ministry of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives in Mauritius, facilitating the work done by WMG in eight manufacturing companies from various sectors. The success of this project has led to further discussions around scaling this project in other Commonwealth countries.”

WMG supports SME manufacturers with digital technologies across the UK. Find out more here:

Wed 21 Feb 2024, 16:46 | Tags: SME Supply Chains Sustainability Our People

University programme credited for helping West Midlands cut energy consumption by 32%

WMG has been shortlisted for an ‘Energy Efficiency Project of the Year Award’ A university programme which helped SMEs reduce energy consumption by 32% has been nominated for a national sustainability award.

WMG at The University of Warwick helped more than 50 SMEs in the West Midlands become more sustainable after the energy crisis left 60% of these critical UK manufacturers threatened with closure. The project has helped reduce the energy and fuel consumption of SMEs, which are responsible for 44% of non-household UK emissions.

WMG achieved this through its Net Zero Innovation Network which is now up for ‘Energy Efficiency Project of the Year Award’ – hosted by edie’s Net Zero Awards.

The Net Zero Innovation Network is helping to deconstruct the complexities of energy management, sustainability, and innovation for manufacturers across the UK. The network of engineers, innovation managers and industry experts offers practical tools and programmes to help SMEs overcome barriers such as lack of time, internal skills and cash-flow to invest. There is no cost for businesses involved, the only investment needed from SMEs is time.

Net Zero Innovation Network also provides access to state-of-the art equipment at the University, help companies reduce their energy consumption. The programme, built on the key themes of people, planet and profit, gets under the skin of the business to empower them to make real lasting change – upskilling staff and reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions.

The Net Zero Innovation Network designed a Manufacturing Energy Toolkit to provide provide solutions for SMEs impacted by the energy crisis. This toolkit measured and analysed energy consumption at a granular level, using WMG systems and research. The average energy saving of businesses using the toolkit was 32% and one SME reduced its energy consumption by 81%.

Other successful Net Zero Innovation Network projects included:

  • Waste heat recovery simulation – assessing how to redirect heat in businesses to avoid additional energy (heating) being used.
  • Process automation – using robots or software to help automate more mundane, repetitive and simple tasks, enabling other staff members to focus on more impactful projects.
  • Granular material and energy monitoring – mapping out what materials and energy is currently being used, identifying ways to enhance efficiency or reduce waste
  • Digitalisation – encouraging companies to utilise digital tech and systems e.g. upgrading their processes from paper to online/digital

Laura Downey, Innovation Manager at WMG, and technical lead of the programme, said: “The Net Zero Innovation Network has supported over 50 businesses and counting. As a result, the businesses we’ve partnered with have reduced their emissions whilst improving profitability, remained suppliers of choice and increased material and energy efficiency. We are honoured to have been shortlisted for the edie Net Zero Awards and look forward to supporting even more SMEs on their journey to net zero.”

Leslie Sharp, Director of Kingfisher Enamelling, who benefited from the WMG programme, said: “WMG staff provide a range of knowledge and expertise which we just did not have. Added to this, their drive and commitment to help SMEs is immeasurable.”

The winners of edie’s Net Zero awards will be announced on 15 November. Find out more about the awards here

For SMEs wanting to get involved in the scheme, there was a webinar on 26 October with a guest talk from participant company Professional Polishing Services

Tue 31 Oct 2023, 14:23 | Tags: SME Partnerships Sustainability

The University of Warwick celebrates 200 engineering internships in manufacturing to mark National Manufacturing Day

The University of Warwick is celebrating a new milestone for its engineering internship scheme, with over 200 internships now completed.

The milestone will be celebrated at a special event tomorrow on campus to mark the UK’s National Manufacturing Day – Thursday 28th September.

The internship scheme, which was established by the University’s WMG in 2013, places students in engineering internships at manufacturing businesses across the Midlands.

The scheme has been a hit with both students and businesses, with 75% of businesses experiencing increases in productivity and 95% saying they had noticed a positive cultural change thanks to the interns.

Most businesses who hired one intern through the scheme returned in the future, with around 70 interns now having been offered full time positions as a result of their internships.

The scheme was established to address the skills gap, with businesses needing more engineers than are available. Research suggests this gap is likely to get worse as demand increases, particularly for ‘green’ engineering roles.

Febry Wardhana, an Engineering Project Management postgraduate, recently completed his internship at Midtherm Flue Systems. They were so pleasedPicture shows Febry at his Midtherm Internship with his work Febry now works for the company permanently.

Michael Whale, Midtherm’s Training and Development Manager said: “Febry’s work has opened up a lot of new doors for us and he has done a great job, so much so that we offered him a full-time position as a process engineer.”

Other interns have gone into a range of high-profile roles in both small and large organisations. Warwick graduate Sam Woodcock who undertook an internship at Pashley Cycles is now working at Arup as a mechanical engineer. He said:

“My internship with WMG and Pashley helped me to become comfortable in not knowing the answer to every problem I faced, and therefore taught me how to persevere and overcome engineering challenges.”

Dr Mark Swift, Director of SME Engagement at WMG commented:

“Our internship programme is hugely important for us. It has supported over 200 manufacturers while tackling a range of important projects in their businesses and proves that young engineers can add real value. It is critical that we kick start the careers of our future engineers so that they can get onboard to deal with the manufacturing challenges of both today and tomorrow.”

Wed 27 Sep 2023, 17:22 | Tags: SME HVM Catapult Manufacturing Skills

WMG secures funding for two new knowledge transfer partnerships with SME manufacturers pushing the boundaries on process and management innovation

The SME Group at WMG, University of Warwick, has embarked on two major projects with Bellagio Stone and Radius Systems thanks to over £200k inWMG's SME Group's Knowledge Transfer Partnership funding from Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme.

A KTP is a three-way collaboration between a company, an academic institution (in this case WMG at the University of Warwick) and a graduate or postgraduate. KTPs are designed to help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through shared knowledge, technology, and skills.

Bellagio Stone’s two-year project will create a new cultural management and leadership framework within the business following a recent merger, enabling it to push productivity and prepare for future expansion. Bellagio will transform its operations in the stonemasonry industry, capitalising on a range of long-term growth ambitions.

Radius Systems manufacturers of innovative plastic pipeline solutions will work on a two-year project with WMG to analyse, design and implement a process control system to reduce process variation in the continuous manufacture of water, gas and hydrogen infrastructure pipes.

Simon Broome, Innovation Manager at WMG who works with SMEs to secure KTP funding said: “We are delighted to announce these major new KTP projects. Both Bellagio Stone and Radius Systems have showed a fantastic appetite to grow their businesses and engage with the University to achieve their goals. We are excited about the potential ahead and are now in the process of recruiting the KTP Associates who will deliver the projects in the businesses.”

Mike Boyden, Operations Director at Bellagio Stone Ltd said: “We are really excited to have been awarded the funding to begin the KTP project in conjunction with WMG. We have worked on a number of really successful projects with WMG in the past and feel the KTP has great potential to help develop our business further. Having recently completed a business merger, this targeted approach of supporting specific hurdles we are facing, will help unite both businesses and really drive improvements in productivity, purchasing power and overall efficiencies. We are really grateful to all the team involved with supporting the application and look forward to getting started.”

Allen Clarke Technical Director at Radius Systems Ltd said: “We are delighted to be awarded the funding through Innovate UK and the opportunity to further work with WMG. We have many ideas and initiative to further enhance our manufacturing processes and drive or business to the next level. The scheme will give us great insight into our chosen technical subjects whilst enhancing our World class manufacturing and Industry 4.0 philosophy. Thank you to all involved with this venture and looking forward to getting started in Autumn 2023.”

Find out more about WMG’s SME programmes here: WMG SME Group | How can we help you? (

Tue 22 Aug 2023, 10:19 | Tags: SME HVM Catapult Partnerships

WMG helps bridge engineering skills gap with Design and Make Challenge

Picture shows members of the SME team from WMGMembers from WMG at the University of Warwick’s SME team worked together with the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN Group), on Tuesday (11th July), to offer a group of students the opportunity to learn real life engineering and design skills.

Eighty pupils from 16 local schools swapped their daily lessons to take part in the challenge. They were tasked,Picture shows the creation of miniature aircraft at the Design and Make Challenge supported by engineers from the MAN Group's eight member companies, with building a miniature aircraft and then testing the designs.

The event took place on the University of Warwick campus and was attended by WMG’s Executive Chair, Margot James, as well as representatives from the BBC and Sky News.

 Dr Mark Swift, Director of SME Engagement at WMG, University of Warwick: "WMG is working tirelessly to address the skills gap, that our SME manufacturing partners continue to face, through education programmes; innovation projects; internships and knowledge transfer partnerships.

“It’s important that the manufacturing industry engages with future engineers, to encourage, inspire and lead us into a prosperous future together. This is exactly what the Design and Make Challenge aims to do.

“This event in particular, really brings home the creativity and innovation involved in the manufacturing sector, and it was a privilege to be part of it.”

You can watch footage of the event here:

Thu 13 Jul 2023, 21:44 | Tags: SME STEM

£220m boost to Midlands economy through WMG support programme

WMG at the University of Warwick is celebrating the completion of a major funded programme this week which has helped to add £220m to the Midlands economy.

Over the last five years, WMG’s Digital Innovation for Manufacturing (DI4M) has helped create 660 jobs and digitise 370 businesses – supporting hundreds of small and medium sized manufacturers across the Midlands.

New products have been taken to market through the programme including a novel electric charging point that attaches to lampposts, ultra-high speed 3D printer, and a wall climbing robot to undertake important maintenance work on tall buildings.

DI4M has been a five year, £10m programme supporting SME manufacturers to implement digital innovation. Delivered across the six Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas of Coventry and Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, the Black Country, South East Midlands, Leicester and Leicestershire and Worcestershire, it has been led by the SME Group within Warwick Manufacturing Group, part of the University of Warwick. The programme was funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the WMG centre High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

Image shows Jaltek apprenticeCompanies that have benefited include Jaltek Systems who were helped to set up a new factory layout using digital twin technology and who also accessed a funded internship to get two major production lines up and running.

Gordon Ellis & Co was also a recipient of the funded programme and they were able to implement sensors and data collection devices around the factory to boost productivity and reduce waste.

Although this project has reached its endpoint, WMG’s SME group are continuing to support manufacturing SMEs through the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, Made Smarter West Midlands and through new schemes such as its Net Zero Innovation Programme and Business Energy Advice Toolkit which helps businesses reduce energy and costs with low-cost technology solutions.

Dr Mark Swift, Director of SME Engagement said: “The DI4M programme has been an important anchor for Midlands SME businesses through a period of unprecedented challenge and disruption. The programme has been a constant effective enabler for introducing new ideas, new technology to boost productivity as well as acting as a springboard to Net Zero and business energy efficiency. The economic impact speaks for itself – adding £220m, or £22 for every £1 invested, to our region is something we are all immensely proud of. We now look forward to further successes from a range of new energy efficiency, digital and productivity programmes.”

Find out more about WMG here

Thu 08 Jun 2023, 12:42 | Tags: SME HVM Catapult

WMG’s SME group receive double award at the Technology Supply Chain Awards

Picture shows WMG's SME Team receiving Technology Supply Chain AwardWMG’s SME group have been awarded as manufacturing innovation champions for their work with Midlands manufacturers at an awards ceremony held in Birmingham by membership group – the Technology Supply Chain.

They were celebrated for the delivery of the DI4M (Digital Innovation for Manufacturing programme), a four-year project funded by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) to aid SME manufacturers adopt digital technology for increased productivity and profitability.

Over 300 businesses have already benefited from one-to-one project support from WMG experts to implement automation, new information systems, and digital manufacturing techniques with transformative results.

One of the beneficiaries of the programme, Daniel Robinson, Head of Finance, Operations & I.T, Gordon Ellis & Co said: “We’ve spent over 150 years in the industry. We know it well, however, we are looking to the future and need to use digital to continue to be innovative and competitive. WMG have the know-how in smart factories, and we got support that we wouldn’t have got anywhere else.”

Dr Mark Swift, Head of SME Programmes at WMG, University of Warwick said: We are delighted to have received this award in recognition of our work with the Midlands manufacturing community. Our team cut through the technical jargon to get things done. From quick wins, helping businesses minimise waste in a process to longer term projects, implementing technology such as sensors and cameras to better track production throughput. The results can be transformational for businesses who are having to navigate some of the most challenging times.”

WMG were also jointly awarded the engineering innovation champion prize for delivery of the Made Smarter programme with partners at the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth LEP Hub, West Midlands Combined Authority and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).

Find out more about WMG’s work with SMEs here

Wed 28 Sep 2022, 12:19 | Tags: SME HVM Catapult Our People Awards

Reusable and customised facemask to keep healthcare workers safe thanks to digital supply-chain

Image of the MyMaskFit reusable and customised facemask   Throughout the pandemic the filtering facepiece 3 respirator (FFP3) mask was heavily in demand, as it is the most widely used respiratory protective equipment in UK healthcare system. However, according to a study with health workers from 32 hospitals, the overall fit-testing pass rates had a mean pass rate of 81%. 

MyMaskFit with their NHS Nurse co-Founder saw this statistic in reality in setting up the COVID-19 Wards, and with inspiration from the Ventilator Challenge UK they have created a reusable, customised facemask to protect medical workers during and after the pandemic.  

The mask is unique as it has:  

§ Fully customised fit according to individual’s face. This will ensure a high fit-testing pass rate and better protection.Image of the MyMaskFit reusable and customised facemask

§ Different from the traditional one fits all masks, customised mask will also provide the most comfortable wearing experience that enable clinical workers wearing them for long time. 

§ Local 3D printing supply chain to ensure a fast and flexible reaction to the demand with short lead time.


However, to ensure MyMaskFit could be rolled out and mass produced it was important to secure a sustainable supply chain. This is where the WMG Supply Chain Research Group stepped in and helped MyMaskFit to create a digital solution, taking advantage of emerging distributed manufacturing. 

Distributed manufacturing consists of using global and remote expertise, producing parts locally and diversifying supplier network productions, researchers from WMG decided to use distributed manufacturing to create a digital supply-chain marketplace, which is attractive to buyers and suppliers, as it uses the insight gained from other marketplace examples to address known barriers and issues. This means that companies can transform customer feedback into designs and products that can be achieved within days through such a dynamic and distributed supply chain. 

The WMG Accelerator Team also helped, by leveraging their existing knowledge learned from UK Collaborative Commerce Marketplace (UKCCM). UKCCM is a digital marketplace created by WMG Accelerator Team, which aims to increase sales and lower costs through providing easy access to the core competences and capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises. 

MyMaskFits was then able to meet the classification of cloud-additive manufacturing with a touch of the platform's support (marketplace) to amplify the on-demand supply chain to a larger scale. 

Carl Che from the WMG SCRG at the University of Warwick comments: “We are glad that our distributed manufacturing archetype and marketplace archetype helped MyMaskFit to form their business model from academic side. It feels great knowing a better mask can potentially help more NHS workers or even save more lives.  

“From a macro perspective, two separated models (distributed manufacturing and B2B marketplace) perfectly help each other out. This project can potentially sketch out an emerging pattern of the future manufacturing in the UK.” 

Paul Perera from MyMaskFits comments: “Our mask is unique as it is reusable and customisable, however in order for it to be mass produced and manufactured easily we needed a sustainable supply-chain in place.  

“WMG at the University of Warwick have helped us meet our customer’s needs and expectations by helping us secure a sustainable and digital supply-chain, this means we can easily check our suppliers availability and prices and provide MyMaskFit quickly and at a competitive price.”  



High-res images available at: 
Caption: The MyMaskFit reusable and customised facemask  
Credit: MyMaskFit Photographer: Ed Felton 
Caption: The MyMaskFit reusable and customised facemask  
Credit: MyMaskFit Photographer: Ed Felton 
Caption: The MyMaskFit reusable and customised facemask  
Credit: MyMaskFit Photographer: Ed Felton 

5 April 2022

Tue 05 Apr 2022, 12:02 | Tags: SME Supply Chains HVM Catapult Research

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