Chamber member UK-Centric Supply Chains is based at Aston University in Birmingham and is responsible for a five-year project aimed at helping SMEs operating in the manufacturing, automotive, engineering and food and drink sectors.
The project is jointly funded by the university and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and covers two geographical locations - The Marches and the greater Cambridge and Peterborough areas.
The story so far
UK-Centric Supply Chains provides a minimum of 12 hours free support with the focus on mapping, assessing and improving the capabilities, supply chains and growth of its SME clients. More than 85 companies have benefited since the launch of the project in October 2018 and the target is to have supported 126 clients through the process by the time the project comes to an end next year.
The result of engagement for SMEs involved in the scheme is a plan of action to improve and strengthen their supply chain, providing a better understanding in terms of their geographical location and relationships with customers and suppliers. We asked Khadijeh Rahmani, UK-Centric Supply Chains Project Manager, to tell us more:
She said: “In order to be eligible for our fully-funded project, SMEs must have less than 250 employees, be located within the two specific geographical areas we cover and have an annual turnover of not exceeding €50million and/or an annual balance sheet not exceeding €43million.
“Over a three-year span, all companies are eligible to receive support equivalent to up to €200,000 from projects like ours in the form of state aid.
“Having ensured the prospective client meets the criteria, the next step is for our business engagement managers to employ a Supply Chain Readiness Assessment tool and take applicants through a range of business aspects.
“We then generate a report in which we establish any gap within a client’s business or any areas that need to be addressed. We have a team of experts at the university who specialise in supply chains and logistics - people from business schools who cover areas like engineering leadership and other business elements.
“After the input of this expertise we arrange another meeting with the client at a discovery session where we mutually agree what needs to be addressed and generate an action plan on what steps the client can take to benefit their business.
“This can include any gaps identified within the business and areas the client wants to see an improvement - such as in their supply chain system, or forming better relationships with suppliers.
“We are fully committed to the client and don’t end our relationship or engagement just because the minimum 12 hours have been completed. We maintain that engagement and offer different events and workshops, keeping involved. We only close engagement when the client is satisfied and we are sure they have got what they wanted from us.
“If we see any Knowledge Transfer Partnership opportunities become available, we introduce the client to the relevant team at Aston University and, while it’s not an area we cover, if a client is looking for support around digital marketing or e-commerce, we never say no and refer them to other projects around the university.”
Khadijeh said UK-Centric Supply Chains had been a member of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce for a while and attended networking events and exhibitions whenever possible, and that the chamber had been actively involved in helping to promote events hosted by the company.
She added: “Feedback is very important to us and two examples of how we have been able to support businesses may provide valuable insights into what we do. We worked with a company based in Peterborough involved in the repurposing of unused commercial kitchen equipment.
“We interviewed leaders within this industry and the company said our research and recommendations had enabled it to find more areas where this equipment was located, resulting in an increase in turnover.
Another client said our recommendations had helped them scale up their operation after our involvement identified risks and opportunities through the mapping of their supply chain and that UK-Centric Supply Chains bring practical differences such as how to adopt 4.0 technologies.
“We recently won an award for our achievements with this project and our message to SMEs is really a call to action! These are the services we are offering and we are available AT NO COST to SMEs, so get in touch with us and find out how we can benefit your business.”