Janine Smith, Head of Specialist Services at the Greater Manchester (GM) Business Growth Hub recently presented a cooperative approach to Access and manufacturing PPE in the City Region of Greater Manchester. The GMBGH are part of the GM Growth Company – a not for profit org of 1100 staff based in GM. BGH supports businesses & individuals across GM to enable growth, create jobs and improve lives and focuses on the economical impact of SMEs to the region. 

Prior to the pandemic, personal protective equipment, ‘PPE’, was largely produced to a low cost internationally with only a few UK based manufacturers with fairly specialised uses. However, the pandemic caused supply chains to break and at the same time there was both huge demand and a national shortage of PPE.

It was clear that there was a need for a regionally coordinated effort of identifying organisations already producing PPE to increase their output and for others to move into production. The partnership brought together Regional manufacturers where the current business model was suffering in the pandemic that had the capacity to pivot to producing PPE. Regional manufacturers who were already making PPE were supported to be able to increase their outputs.

MIDAS (part of GC and sister to BGH) led a task force sourcing PPE for the NHS, police, fire, Transport for GM, care homes and vulnerable communities.
The task force provided a strategic lead on
•    Supporting existing supply chains
•    Identifying new supply chains
•    Brokering supply chains into GM
•    Allocating centrally sourced PPE across public agencies
•    Providing clarity of advice from Public Health England

The partnership developed a process where manufacturing businesses were introduced to each other to collaborate to overcome supply chain issues. (For example, factories making hand sanitiser worked with those making bottles to store this in.) A new network and database of 141 regional PPE suppliers was established. In addition to this, businesses with the opportunity to switch production were supported with access to finance to purchase new machinery. This saw some really interesting stories such as a gin manufacturer focusing on the production of sanitizer.
Read more about 'Gin distillery backed by GC Business Growth Hub protects key workers against COVID-19'

Additionally, Rotational Bespoke Manufacturing (RBMUK) a manufacturing company in Oldham was supported to adapt  two of its existing products to develop newly designed protective barriers and hand-sanitising stations for industry, to reduce the risk of cross-contamination in workplaces. This has helped other businesses develop their own blueprint for safely returning to work.

For further information visit https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus and https://www.investinmanchester.com/business-support/coronavirus