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New manufacturing network to generate an extra £50million GVA over 10 years

Posted: 20/07/2021

A world-class manufacturing cluster will be developed across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with the launch of a new manufacturing network in September 2021. The Smart Manufacturing Alliance is expected to help manufacturers generate an additional £50 million in GVA over the next 10 years for a sector which is vital to the local economy.

A world-class manufacturing cluster will be developed across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with the launch of a new manufacturing network in September 2021. The Smart Manufacturing Alliance is a joint venture between the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority and economic development company, Opportunity Peterborough.

Plans for the Alliance have received an additional boost with Opportunity Peterborough’s successful bid for a £1.2 million ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) business support programme. This will fund an innovation programme of direct business support and a grant scheme to encourage investment in new technologies and research and development.

The Smart Manufacturing Alliance is expected to help manufacturers generate an additional £50 million in GVA over the next 10 years for a sector which is vital to the local economy. Manufacturing makes up 13% of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s economic output and provides employment for 40,500 people, or 9% of the areas workforce – making it one of the biggest sectors by employment.

Over 2,300 manufacturers operate in the region, including major manufacturers such as Caterpillar Perkins, Codem Composites, Marshalls Aerospace and Defence Group, ALS Pharmaceuticals, and Metalcraft.

Smaller firms operating at the cutting-edge of industry include 3D printing specialists, Photocentric, composites specialists TRB Lightweight Structures, racing car manufacturer, Radical Sports Cars, on top of a world-class inkjet printing cluster around Cambridge.

The Alliance has been established after the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Review (CPIER) and the Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) highlighted that a network would safeguard the growth, innovation, and competitiveness of the sector in the region.

In response to this, Peterborough’s economic development company, Opportunity Peterborough, applied to the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority Business Board to help fund the Alliance through the Local Growth Fund as a joint venture network.

Opportunity Peterborough delivers a portfolio of long and short term projects to address economic and sector challenges. This includes The Skills Service, a brokerage between industry and education to address skills gaps and help young people prepare for a rewarding career. Opportunity Peterborough also continues to deliver the city’s smart city and circular economy programmes, Future Peterborough, which have run for seven years. It is currently involved in the GrowIN4.0 and BLUEPRINT projects, both EU funded and promote international collaboration.

A steering group of local industry leaders will ensure the Alliance tackles the most pressing sector challenges and expands into relevant emerging markets. Recruitment is underway for a range of expert roles within the Alliance which will help manufacturers improve productivity and performance.

The Smart Manufacturing Alliance will aim to address five areas of focus set out in the Combined Authority’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Sector Strategy:

  1. Network and supply chains– Building supply chains through effective cross-sector innovation networks
  2. Strength and opportunities – Mapping advanced materials in the local supply chain and exploring the Manufacturing ‘Blue Ocean’ – opening up new markets to create new demand rather than focusing on growing shares in existing markets.
  3. Space and capability – Developing incubation spaces and mapping technological capabilities
  4. Support – Revolutionising and revitalising the business environment
  5. Skills – Creating an effective, business-led skills supply chain, particularly supporting STEM education in schools and colleges through industry-led apprenticeship qualifications up to graduate level


It will achieve these outcomes by providing members with specific benefits including:

  • Supporting businesses to identify and adopt Industry 4.0 technologies such as Internet of Thing (IoT) and automation, as well as new business models such as Circular Economy and Product-as-a-Service, in order to drive innovation, productivity, and competiveness.
  • Better connecting and strengthening relationships between industry, universities, researchers, training providers, centres of excellence, and schools in a coordinated and collaborative cluster to drive sector growth.
  • Sharing of knowledge, best practice and ideas. Providing benchmarking, training workshops, and learning programs to develop better informed leaders and a higher skilled workforce.


This will take the form of:

  • A diagnostic and brokerage service to benchmark and improve performance of individual member organisations
  • Grant funding advice and guidance
  • Direct delivery, and brokerage of, training services to bridge skills gaps and refine workforce skillsets
  • Provision of sector and market analysis to members to improve competitiveness
  • Enhanced networking opportunities, including site visits, events, and workshops to strengthen local supply chains
  • Facilitating pilots and challenge-led innovation platforms to challenge the status quo and make gains in new fields of expertise

The Smart Manufacturing Alliance has initially been funded through an equity investment provided by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority’s Business Board via the Local Growth Fund. However, it will eventually self-finance through a fee paying membership scheme, corporate sponsorship, and high value services like training brokerages, and innovation pilots

Tom Hennessy, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough said, “Manufacturing across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is extremely diverse. The mature supply chains and skilled workforce are a huge part of what makes it such an attractive investment location, but there’s still plenty of untapped potential.

“Through the Smart Manufacturing Alliance, we can address productivity gaps which are a national challenge, and embed innovation at every level so our manufacturers continue to pioneer new technologies, products, and services. Ultimately we also want to see high quality career opportunities for residents with continuous learning and development, and collaborative approaches that drive innovation and enhance the reputation of the sector in our region.”

Austen Adams, chair of the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority Business Board said, “So much of what makes this region an economic powerhouse comes from clustering where businesses operating in similar sectors are drawn together to create a virtuous cycle of attracting talent, investment and promoting excellence and innovation.

“Fostering these vital ingredients for success in our manufacturing and engineering sector, while addressing the challenges we have around productivity and skills will strengthen and grow this important part of our regional economy.”

– ENDS –

To find out more about the Smart Manufacturing Alliance, click here to contact the team.


Notes to Editor

About Opportunity Peterborough

Opportunity Peterborough is an economic development company whose objective is to drive forward sustainable economic growth in Peterborough via inward investment, local business development, city marketing and improving skills in the local workforce. Opportunity Peterborough is a not-for-profit organisation wholly owned by Peterborough City Council.

European Regional Development Fund

The project is receiving up to £1.2 million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit

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