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    NAA Update: Happy Christmas and a Smarter New Year

    As the year closes to an end, it’s always a nice time to reflect on the year that has passed, on what has been achieved, and of course what the future holds (and I’m sure debating what should sit in the budgets for next year!)…

    For me personally, and for the NAA, 2018 has been a time of change, and 2019 represents an opportunity to continue this approach and to try new things.

    The focus of change for December is on a theme I have spoken about previously: exposure. This month we have firmed up our communication strategy moving forward, with the development of our social media presence being a big part of this. Through our social media, I hope to give our members an insight into the vast number of forums we have a voice in, share industry specific/relevant news updates, and promote our fantastic services such as events and training. Social media is also a place where you can communicate with the NAA at the touch of a button, liking, sharing or commenting on our posts. Please follow the NAA on Twitter and LinkedIn platforms.

    The collaborative piece I would like to share this month is the NAA’s development of iQluster (which also represents greater exposure for our members). iQluster is a collaboration and intelligence platform which is revolutionising how cluster organisations engage with their members. It has been adopted by a number of cluster organisations (UK and worldwide) already, such as the NEAA and Odense Robotics. iQluster is a place where companies can connect, collaborate and share data securely. NAA member companies will gain greater exposure through iQluster, as it will map each member, not just by name, but by product and capabilities. To gain a feel for what this map will look like once complete, examine the Odense Robotics map as an example (click ‘explore suppliers’). The NAA will initially run a trial of iQluster in Q1 2019, and from there roll it out for all members who wish to be involved – watch this space!

    This past month has also seen the launch of the Made Smarter pilot, a £20 million programme which aims to promote the uptake of Industry 4.0 technologies in SMEs across the North West. Richard Harrington, MP, Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, featured in the keynote speech of the launch (appearing rather appropriately via video link!) saying that the Made Smarter programme would “go down in the history books” as the catalyst for the UK being a leader of Industry 4.0 adoption. He also stressed its importance as it “affects every sector”.

    SMEs can gain support, specialist advice and grants of up to £20,000 in matched funding, if they are situated in the North West. If you are an SME who may be interested, please sign up here Similarly, if you are a supplier of industrial digital technology (and would like to supply Made Smarter projects), you can sign up on this page

    This really is a huge opportunity for the North West region, which is not to be missed, so I do urge you all to get involved. If you’re a member who doesn’t sit in the North West region, not to worry, the programme will be rolled out for the rest of the UK once the pilot has been completed. Our ‘Working Smarter’ event on 6 February will also include a guest speaker from the Made Smarter team!

    Other upcoming events confirmed for next year are at Leyland Trucks on 6 March (Making the Apprenticeship Levy work for you) and at Jaguar Land Rover on 3 April (content of this event TBC).

    One other event that I’d like to highlight for you is the launch of the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) Electric Vehicle Experience programme. The NAA is in the process of developing a working relationship with TfGM and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce – more on that in the New Year – but in the meantime, if you’re based in Greater Manchester and you’d like to drive a Jaguar I-PACE, BMW i8, Tesla Model X or a whole range of other electric cars and vans, please see the article in our Events section.

    I would like to welcome two new members this month, PCB Piezotronics and Wire & Tube Technology; as well as attending our networking events, I hope they will take up the offer of a company profile in our newsletter.

    To finish, I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year. Please enjoy the company of your family and friends, and somewhere between your first and last mince pie, perhaps take some time to think about how your business can become SMARTER in 2019.

    See you all in the New Year

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