Lancaster University Management School and Made Smarter launch ground-breaking leadership programme

Members of the Made Smarter Leadership Programme with the team from Lancaster University Management School
Members of the Made Smarter Leadership Programme with the team from Lancaster University Management School

North West business leaders are the first in the country to embark on a trailblazing leadership programme designed to equip them with the vision and skills to pursue smarter manufacturing.

The Made Smarter Leadership Programme is run in collaboration with Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) and the government-backed £20m Made Smarter initiative for North West manufacturers.

Twelve business leaders based in Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region, have embarked on an eight-month leadership programme involving a mixture of workshops, site-visits to ‘smart’ SME manufacturers around the region and facilitated-learning sessions.

Their first site visit was to Runcorn-based Hosokawa Micron Ltd, a manufacturer and supplier of powder processing systems and equipment, which has transformed its production performance through the application of digital technologies, allowing them to see a smart factory in action.

During the programme, participants will enhance their leadership capacity to enable them to take a strategic view required to adopt hi-tech and digitally-based manufacturing techniques into their own production processes.

They will also gain insights into undertaking an audit to reveal how digital-ready their business currently is, how to measure the true impact and value of any changes they make to the way they work, and how to successfully bring employees and other stakeholders along on their journey of business transformation.

Other parts of the programme, which will be delivered jointly by LUMS academic experts and business leaders already using smart technology, will include special project sprints to test new ideas.

Professor Angus Laing, Dean of Lancaster University Management School, said: “Lancaster has an outstanding track record in devising and delivering world-class business leadership training. Many of the successful methods we have developed have been embedded into this new programme and tailored specifically to address the aspirations of the Made Smarter initiative.

“It has been designed to empower participants to transform their individual businesses through the use of highly advanced manufacturing methods.”

Donna Edwards, director of the North West Made Smarter pilot, said: “I’m delighted to see that the Made Smarter Leadership Programme delivered by Lancaster University Management School is already having a positive impact on its first cohort of business leaders in the North West.

“The programme is a unique opportunity for manufacturers who want to accelerate the adoption of advanced digital technologies within their business.

“Crucially, it allows leaders to take time out of their business to reflect on the bigger picture and share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing. This will help them return to their own business and develop a digital strategy – which has been identified as something many businesses lack, yet it is essential to create growth and efficiencies.”

Andrew Stephenson, Minister for Business and Industry, said: “This new collaboration between Made Smarter and Lancaster University is a fantastic opportunity for these 12 business leaders to develop their skills, get expert guidance and advance further the North West’s reputation for advanced and smart manufacturing.

“Supporting growing business directly on the ground through Made Smarter is a vital part of our modern Industrial Strategy, building on this country’s strong manufacturing heritage and delivering highly-skilled jobs for the future.

“With the Made Smarter pilot set to add up to £115million to the North West economy, I look forward to seeing how the 12 business leaders completing this course will transform and grow their companies as a result.”

Companies who enrolled in the leadership programme include: Technoprint in Winsford; DT Engineering in Widnes; Flexitallic in Ellesmere Port; Abbey England in Knutsford; Forth Engineering in Barrow; Primasonics in Penrith; Fintek in Ramsbottom; Heatsense Cables in Rochdale; Inscape Interiors in Chorley; Forsberg Services in Lancaster; Gencoa in Liverpool; and Milexa in Liverpool.

Anthony McMullin, Head of Operations at Milexa, a business designing and manufacturing wallpaper and flooring products, said: “Digitalisation is something we are looking to really improve so this programme is the perfect fit.

“The course is giving me a very holistic view of the business and helping towards our goal of scaling up.

“I am more excited about looking at the strategy rather than the specific technology which I can find out about from various sources. The good dividends model has really resonated with me.

“You can learn a lot about your own business through this process, and new ways of thinking and developing a strategy before you even start to look at the technology. We’re only half-way through but I feel I have got significant value from it already.”

Made Smarter includes match funding opportunities and the provision of dedicated technical and business support for SMEs adopting digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Industrial Internet of Things, 3D-printing and robotics, to support advanced manufacturing.

Companies interested in registering or wanting more details should visit

For more details on the Made Smarter Leadership Programme at Lancaster University Management School, visit

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