Made Smarter Adoption Awards recognise digital transformation champions among UK SME manufacturers

Mike Pennington and Julian Barrie at York chocolatier Choc Affair

Yorkshire and Humber winners Choc Affair head for inaugural Made Smarter Adoption awards in June

Made Smarter, the movement connecting manufacturers to technology and skills, has launched a national awards programme to celebrate digital transformation among SME manufacturers.

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

Made Smarter Adoption award winners

Regional winners from adoption programmes in the North West, West Midlands, North East and Yorkshire and Humber have now been selected. They include:

  • Firstplay Dietary Foods, a specialist food manufacturer based in Stockport, winner of the Made Smarter North West award;
  • Bridge Cheese, a cheese manufacturer based in Telford, winner of the Made Smarter West Midlands award;
  • heliguy, a drone manufacturer based in North Shields, winner of the Made Smarter North East award;
  • Choc Affair, a chocolatier based in York, winner of the Made Smarter Yorkshire and Humber award.

The companies will now progress to the national awards where the overall winner will be announced in Liverpool on June 27.

The process is really easy

Commenting on the launch of the awards, Brian Holliday, Co-Chair of the Made Smarter Commission, said: “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.”

Julian Barrie, Managing Director of Choc Affair, showed his gratitude for the support received. He said, “The process with Made Smarter was really easy. The support and financial assistance have been invaluable. We’re excited to scale up our business and secure our future thanks to this investment.”

Mike Pennington echoed Julian’s sentiments, highlighting the transformative power of Made Smarter for local businesses. He said, “It’s inspiring to see this York chocolatier flourish with Made Smarter support. This is a perfect example of how digital transformation empowers local businesses to compete and thrive in today’s market.”

Choc Affair’s success story is a great example the impact of Made Smarter on businesses in York and North Yorkshire. Explore how Made Smarter can support your journey at

Choc Affair Wins Prestigious Made Smarter Yorkshire & Humber Award

The region's manufacturers took centre stage at Insider's 2024 Made in Yorkshire Awards. The prestigious event celebrated Yorkshire and Humber's world-class companies and their impact. One of the big winners was Choc Affair, the beloved York chocolatier renowned for its ethical and award-winning creations. Choc Affair clinched the top spot in the Made Smarter Yorkshire & Humber Awards.