A bid for a cash injection of around £5 million has been made to boost a project designed to nurture Birmingham's booming creative industries sector.

Organisers behind the city council scheme say it has created 442 jobs, safeguarded 900 more and helped generate £6 million in new sales since it was launched in 2003.

Mohammed Zahir, who heads the Business Support for Creative Industries scheme, said: "We are negotiating a three year programme to take us to 2008, with 34 per cent of the cash coming from the European Development Fund and the rest from Birmingham City Council, its partners and the companies who come onto the programme."

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A spokesman for The Government Office for the West Midlands, which is handling the bid for European funding, said he expected a decision shortly.

The programme was launched in 2003 and has received funding so far of around £5 million. Mr Zahir said he was hoping for a similar amount if the latest proposal is agreed. He said: "The project was put together in recognition of what is a significant growth sector.

"We came up with a model which provides a comprehensive package of support covering areas including advertising, design, performing arts, music, screen-based media, software and publishing." The scheme provides support including grants, consultancy, feasibility studies and help in developing portfolios.

Mr Zahir, creative business manager in planning and regeneration, said: "It's very much about supporting jobs, encouraging local investment and helping to further improve the profile of the city."

The scheme's success is carefully tracked, he said.

Since its launch it has helped 132 new business start up, helped the generation of £6 million in new sales, supported 600 firms and businesses and created 442 jobs directly while safeguarding 900.

Dan Jones Editor of Channel 4's creative hub at The Ideasfactory in Birmingham backed the project.

He said: "I've seen it help lots and lots of small

operations directly. The support is aimed at directly growing businesses and it is very positive for the city as whole."

Andrew Khoury and Heidi Alden are founding partners of Khoury Architects which set up in business last February in Stourbridge. They successfully applied for a £5,000 grant from the "creative space" arm of the scheme. The cash helped them relocate from Stour-bridge to St Paul's Square in the city.

Ms Alden said: "The support was a great boost for us when we were looking to move to more suitable premises."

Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby said the creative sector was playing a major role in the development of the city.

He said: "The development of the Creative and Cultural Industries is now recognised by the leading agencies as a critical component in the renaissance of our city. Strengthening the competitive position of the Creative Industries in Birmingham is vital to the future economy of the city.

"Our vision involves embracing the talent that clearly exists and ensuring the investment that develops those skills and talent."

A new body designed to provide a strong voice for Birmingham's rapidly growing creative sector was launched last week. He spoke out after more than 120 businesses working in fields such as music, film and design last week joined forces as Creative Birmingham Business to boost the sector.