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Two new programmes announced to boost productivity in the North West through the digitalisation of industrial processes.

Both projects are part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and will ensure SMEs in Liverpool City Region, Cheshire and Warrington region can capitalise on new digital technologies and local University R&D capabilities.

The new LCR4.0 HOLISTIC and Cheshire & Warrington 4.0 (C&W 4.0) projects will be led by the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) and will build upon the regional success and LCR4.0 and LCR4 START programmes, which strengthened the capacity of manufacturing SMEs to adopt industry 4.0 practices and technologies and created digital adoption strategies for SMEs respectively.

The £5.1m LCR4.0 HOLISTIC programme is a fully integrated digital innovation support project developed in conjunction with the University of Liverpool Management School Operations and Supply Chain Management group, with partners Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Growth Platform. It will provide intensive support to a wide range of organisations beyond manufacturing and will help companies to harness the benefits and agility of increased digitalisation, to enable them to adapt their business to become part of a stronger digitally enabled supply chain, better equipped to weather market fluctuations and sectoral changes.

The programme aims to support organisations in adopting digitalisation to build a regional ecosystem of companies with core skill sets enabling them to respond to sectoral opportunities and promoting growth.

C&W 4.0 will see the VEC expand the proven LCR4.0 model into Cheshire and Warrington, linking businesses in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries with the University’s expertise. This £5.6 million project is tailored specifically to meet the needs of manufacturing and engineering businesses in Cheshire and Warrington to implement new Industry 4.0 technologies. Partners include the Science and Technology Facilities Council, LJMU and the Northern Automotive Alliance.

This funding means we can continue to build upon our successful legacy of industrial digitalisation programmes for Liverpool City Region, and extend this offer to neighbouring Cheshire and Warrington. Digital innovation will be crucial to a region’s economic recovery after COVID-19 and to help respond to the challenges brought about by Brexit. The LCR4.0 HOLISTIC and C&W 4.0 programmes will mean even more North-West businesses can tap into world-leading expertise from a research-intensive Russell Group University.

Dr Andrew Levers, Executive Director, Institute of Digital Engineering and Autonomous Systems at the University of Liverpool

Jointly the projects will support more than 310 business over the next three years and create 260 new R&D collaborations between industry and HEIs.

The VEC’s activities are the vanguard for the newly established Institute of Digital Engineering & Autonomous Systems (IDEAS) impact agenda.

The University of Liverpool has a proven track record of helping businesses to transform and compete by demystifying and accelerating digital innovation. The VEC has assisted large companies, including Sellafield and Bentley Motors, and hundreds of SMEs and start-ups to explore and adopt new digital technologies for over a decade.

If you would like to express your interest in any of the above innovation programmes, please contact Andrew Borland.

For more information on the University of Liverpool’s digital innovation offer, please visit www.liverpool.ac.uk/digital-innovation.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority plays a leading role in the delivery of the EU Structural and Investment Funds Strategy (ESIF) 2014-2020 for the Liverpool City Region. The indicative allocation to LCR is around £193m, split between ERDF, ESF and Rural Growth.