Innovation in Manufacturing & Engineering programme

The Innovation in Manufacturing and Engineering (IME) programme was a collaborative initiative with co-investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), led by Lancaster University in partnership with BAE Systems (Operations) Ltd. The programme ran from October 2015 until June 2016. 

The IME programme aimed to increase the innovation capacity of owners and managers of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the North West of England. Focusing on the Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing sector, the university’s renowned former leadership development programme, LEAD, has been adapted to help develop non-technical skills required by firms to support and drive innovation.

A cohort of 19 participants from 18 SMEs completed the IME programme. Through active, experiential learning comprising masterclasses, workshops, peer shadowing, visits, exchanges and action learning groups, participants developed their strategic thinking, growth planning skills, innovation capacity and leadership and management skills. The IME programme also supported access for SMEs to regional and national innovation infrastructures, including BAE Systems at Samlesbury, Siemens at Congleton and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at Sheffield. IME recognised the important role that regional anchor institutions, such as large corporates and universities, can play in attracting and encouraging regional SMEs to develop their skills, improve their workplace practices and learn from each other in a trusted peer network. It also played an important role in raising awareness of innovation infrastructure, such as Catapult Centres, including the AMRC at Sheffield, and how they can be accessed by SMEs.

From expertise developed through the delivery of IME, Lancaster University will continue to be a conduit, connecting SMEs with anchor organisations such as BAE Systems, Siemens and innovation infrastructure such as the AMRC or other catapults.

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