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    Event Review: SMMT SME Support Roadshow, 7 March 2013

    If you missed the SME Support Roadshow which explained the funding and business support available for companies in the North West, then you’d better read this summary of the event.

    The SMMT SME roadshow was designed to follow up from the publication of last year’s Supply Chain Finance report, and the SMMT’s Meet the Funder event. The event aimed to support SMEs requiring access to finance and support and was an opportunity for automotive SME companies to engage with the various business support agencies in the region. There is a growing range of funding schemes and benefits available to smaller businesses and the event highlighted and explained those that are most useful.

    A team from the SMMT presented on the subject of Supply Chain Business Opportunities, covering:

     SMMT Overview
     Meet the Buyer events
     Automotive Supplier Finder
     SMMT support services

    Alex Robinson, SMMT Supply Chain Development Manager, explained that UK vehicle manufacturing broke all-time records last year, producing around 1.5 million vehicles, but the forecast is that 2 million vehicles will be produced in 2016. This growth represents an important opportunity for UK automotive suppliers.

    Nikki Huggett, Project Manager, Member Services and Business Improvement, focused on the Automotive Supplier Finder (ASF). All automotive suppliers should ensure that they are included in this, with up-to-date information about themselves – this is especially true for companies that want to be considered for the forthcoming Meet the Buyer event on 23 May 2013 (see separate story).

    Rob Morbin, Project Co-ordinator, Member Services and Business Improvement, talked about international services including trade missions and exhibitions, and the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) services available to help companies sell into international markets, including Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) grants.

    Alan Welby, Executive Director of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), gave a presentation about the Liverpool City Region LEP, and the encouragement that it wants to give to the automotive industry in the region. Liverpool is to host the International Festival of Business in 2014, and automotive companies are invited to take part. Alan also gave a presentation about the Technology Strategy Board on behalf of Tim O’Brien, and talked about the many projects supported by the Technology Strategy Board to encourage the development of low carbon vehicles.

    A presentation about the funding made available through the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) was given by Andy Povey, and Alistair Poole, Managing Director, NGF EUROPE Limited gave the example of his own company gaining a £500,000 AMSCI grant to allow a £4 million project to progress – a high tensile strength fibre-forming plant in Merseyside (link to: NAA case study –  )

    Finally Mark Sutherberry from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) stressed to the audience that MAS is keen to provide funding to the maximum number of projects in the North West.

    European Regional Development Fund Northern Powerhouse
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham