THE implementation of a new £20million countywide business support programme is taking on some East Lancs knowhow.

Andrea Thompson, the managing director of BAE Samlesbury’s European and international programmes, will chair the steering board for Made Smarter.

And Burnley-based BCW Engineering’s group operations director Trevor Cassie will join her on the board of the government-backed SME initiative.

Andrea brings a wealth of experience to the role, with past associations with Leyland Trucks and Rolls Royce under her belt, as well as having responsibility for the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft programme.

She said: “Having spent many years working in global industries like engineering, automotive and aerospace I know how respected and admired the north west’s manufacturing tradition is.

“However, much of this is down to the legacy of the first industrial revolution which started in this region. With Made Smarter we now have a real opportunity to kick-start a new era of technology-led manufacturing, driven by innovative and ambitious SMEs, throughout the whole of the north west.”

Mr Cassie, of Burnley-based BCW, added: ““With the progression of digitalisation in manufacturing there are exciting times ahead for firms across Lancashire and the wider north west, and I am greatly looking forward to being part of the Made Smarter team.”

The project was launched before Christmas in Liverpool and around 600 firms shoud qualify for more intensive business support under its auspices.