MANUFACTURERS across North Yorkshire can tap into a new £6.5milllion fund.

Small to medium-sized manufacturers are being urged to apply for support to help them recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and tackle barriers to growth.

The Manufacturing Growth Programme, funded by ERDF and delivered by Oxford Innovation Services, has been extended until December 2022.

Firms are given access to a dedicated Manufacturing Growth manager, who will use an in-depth business diagnostic tool to develop an individual action plan and support business projects. These range from environmental improvements, leadership and management and marketing to people and skills, quality and supply chain development.

“All the media attention is on the headline manufacturers and how they are coping in the wake of Covid-19. It’s our job to look at how the smaller manufacturers supporting these big businesses are performing and what we can do to help them,” said Martin Coats, managing director of the programme.

“Our track record in delivering on-the-ground expert support was pivotal in us securing an additional £6.5m of funding that is ring-fenced for ensuring SME manufacturers can overcome barriers to growth and return to doing what they do best -making things.”

He added: “Helping manufacturers is not easy and you need a tailored approach, delivered by experts who know what it is like working in industry. The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), their local Growth Hubs and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government have seen first-hand the value we add to firms in their respective areas and this has resulted in further commitment to support us for another two and a half years.”

The Manufacturing Growth Programme is a dedicated business support programme for SME manufacturers in North Yorkshire, delivering £345,000 of grants since its launch in October 2016.

This has been used to assist 240 companies, creating 182 local jobs and safeguarding hundreds more.

“While the number of projects we have supported has been maintained since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, demand has shifted from the larger SMEs towards micro businesses," said Martin.

“This has also led to a change in the type of assistance. There is more demand for shorter-term marketing and product development projects and less for productivity and capacity building projects.

“As the economy recovers, it will be important to shift this pattern back, ensuring that support reaches larger SME manufacturers as well and delivers projects that rebuild capacity. The MGP is more important than ever in achieving this.”