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Made To Grow S02 E05: SMEs: Collaborate to Succeed (with Sam Baynham of Conex Portal)

In this thought-provoking episode of “Made to Grow,” we sit down with Sam Baynham, Managing Director of Conex Portal, a vibrant UK-wide community dedicated to connecting and empowering SME manufacturers and engineering companies.

Sam sheds light on how peer-to-peer networking and collaboration are revolutionising the SME manufacturing sector, helping businesses overcome common challenges and seize new opportunities.

Guest Overview: Sam Baynham

Sam Baynham is at the forefront of fostering collaboration among SME manufacturers. With a background in mechanical engineering and extensive experience in supporting small businesses through the design-to-market journey, Sam found that connecting to the right people with the right products or services to make this journey smooth and fast was oftentimes arduous.

This insight drove him to create Conex Portal, a community designed to help build strong, supportive networks that drive innovation and growth. His passion for connecting SME manufacturers and sharing best practices makes him a key player in the sector’s ongoing evolution.

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Key Points


  • The Role of Conex Portal in SME Manufacturing: Sam explains how Conex serves as an extension to SME manufacturing businesses, offering a platform for knowledge sharing, networking, and support without the hard sell. It aims to help SME manufacturers overcome isolation and operational challenges by connecting them with resources and expertise.
  • Challenges Facing SME Manufacturers: Addressing issues like the manufacturing skills shortage, rising energy costs, and the need for digital transformation in manufacturing, Sam highlights how Conex is tackling these problems by fostering collaboration and sharing best practices among SME manufacturers.
  • Real-world Success Stories in SME Manufacturing: Sam shares examples of how Conex members have benefited from collaborative projects, such as transitioning from traditional manufacturing methods to more efficient digital manufacturing processes, resulting in significant cost and time savings for SME manufacturers.
  • Events and Engagement for SME Manufacturing Growth: Conex organises various events, including webinars, trade shows, and mastermind sessions, to encourage active participation and continuous learning among SME manufacturers.
  • Education and Skills Development in Manufacturing: Conex is actively involved in outreach to schools and educational institutions to promote careers in manufacturing and bridge the skills gap, ensuring a steady influx of young talent into the SME manufacturing sector.
  • Supportive Network for SME Manufacturers: The importance of creating a safe, confidential environment for SME manufacturers to share challenges and successes is a cornerstone of Conex’s approach, helping businesses to thrive through mutual support and collaboration.

Conclusion and Further Resources

This episode explores the collaborative spirit that is driving growth in UK manufacturing. Sam provides a compelling narrative on how SME manufacturers can leverage networking and shared expertise to navigate industry challenges. For more information about Conex Portal and to get involved, visit and follow Sam Baynham on LinkedIn.

Join us in the next episode, where we explore digital transformation with Oliver Caunt of JCS Nuclear Solutions. We’ll discuss their ambitious digital transformation project and the significant opportunities it unlocked for their business.

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