A growing Shropshire cheese supplier will be representing the region at an inaugural awards evening to celebrate digital transformation in businesses across the UK.

Bridge Cheese, which supplies cheese and dairy products to the food manufacturing, wholesale and food service sectors, was set-up in 2018 by Managing Director Michael Harte and Operations Director Martin Bowden.

From a team of five, the business has grown to employing 80 members of staff and has extended its premises at Stafford Park 13 in Telford to 25,000 sq ft.

The company joined the Made Smarter West Midlands programme to improve its technology systems, and was presented with the Made Smarter award for the Marches and the overall award for the region, at the inaugural Made Smarter Adoption Awards, West Midlands, ceremony in Birmingham.

The Made Smarter Adoption Awards champion manufacturing and engineering companies who have committed to adopting technology and skills to digitalise, decarbonise and drive growth.

In the West Midlands, other area winners were D.A.R.L Engineering (Coventry and Warwickshire); Advanced Innovative Engineering (UK) (Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire); Reynolds Blinds (Greater Birmingham and Solihull); Metal Assemblies (The Black Country) and G&O Springs (Worcestershire).

Bridge Cheese and other regional winners from the North West, North East, and Yorkshire and Humber have now progressed to the national awards in Liverpool on Thursday, June 27.

The Made Smarter Adoption Programme is a government-funded initiative which offers support to SME manufacturers including digital transformation workshops to create a digital roadmap, impartial and expert technology advice, leadership and skills training, as well as grant funding for technology projects.

Since 2019, SME manufacturers across the West Midlands have invested over £2.3m in new technologies, forecasting the creation of almost 1,111 new jobs, over 3,200 upskilled roles, and adding £161m to the economy over the next three years.

Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub leads the Made Smarter West Midlands scheme alongside the Growth Hubs in Worcestershire, the Marches, and Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire, on behalf of Business Growth West Midlands, the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Department for Business and Trade.

Craig Humphrey, Chief Executive at Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, said: “The regional awards evening was a great opportunity to celebrate the successes of businesses who have embraced digital technology and are experiencing its positive benefits on a daily basis.

“We are continuing to meet with engineering and manufacturing SMEs throughout the West Midlands to encourage them to introduce digital technology to improve their productivity, skills of their staff and drive their expansion plans forward.”

Michael Harte, Managing Director of Bridge Cheese, said: “The growth we’ve achieved as a business since we started in the first four years had been fantastic but for us to grow further, we needed to focus on data-led decision making.

“Made Smarter has enabled and accelerated our improvement in that area with an investment in new technology. The team has also helped us produce a digital roadmap for us, highlighting the steps we need to take over the next three to five years to digitalise. This support will take Bridge Cheese to a whole new level."

Brian Holliday, Co-Chair of the Made Smarter Commission, added: "The Made Smarter Awards celebrate digital transformation among SME manufacturers, and it is with great pride to see these inaugural awards taking place this year.

“I would like to congratulate all winners and nominees, from across all the regions, as we collectively celebrate the successes the Made Smarter adoption programme has helped support in each of the individual manufacturing businesses.   

“The impact of the programme continues at pace with the creation of thousands of new jobs, the adoption of multiple digital technologies and empowerment of future digital leaders with our skills and leadership training.

“We are looking forward to the expansion of the programme into more regions in 2025. This allows us to truly support increasing manufacturing productivity, raising exports through international competitiveness, strengthening UK supply chains and creating new value streams and reducing CO2 emissions.”

For more information, visit www.madesmarter.uk