A new awards competition for West Midlands-based information and communications technology (ICT) companies has been announced by the ICT Cluster Opportunity Group (COG) of regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.
The West Midlands ICT Awards are intended to recognise excellence amongst West Midlands ICT companies, helping to share and celebrate best-practice within the region.
For the inaugural 2005 competition, awards will be made in six categories:
* Most innovative product or service
* Most value-added private sector project
* Best value public sector project
* Best public sector procurer
* Best use of skills training
* Best international trader
In addition there will be one overall award, the Regional Champion Award, for the company that not only excels in one of the six categories, but is also the best example to other companies in the region of how to not only deliver excellence in IT, business and people management, but also fully embraces and promotes the opportunities offered within the West Midlands ICT Cluster.
The Regional Champion will receive a cash prize of £2,000.
Entries must be submitted by October 1. Judging will be carried out during October by a panel drawn from not only the ICT Cluster Opportunity Group but also from current regional ICT projects, local ICT companies, and even local ICT users.
David Burden, COG member and marketing and communications task group leader said: "We think it is important that these awards celebrate both business as well as technical excellence.
"ICT companies should be focussed on the needs of their customers, and ensure that their products and projects deliver real value.
"As a result we are keen to get end users involved in the judging process. We are also dedicating one award to the public sector organisations that buy IT to recognise those public procurers that are taking advantage of the strength of capability in our local ICT SMEs."
Stuart Webb, ICT cluster manager for AWM added: "These awards are an excellent opportunity to show regional and national ICT buyers just how strong a group of ICT companies we have in the West Midlands.
"With over 3000 ICT companies covering everything from network support to advanced opto-electronics and photonics, local businesses do not need to look outside the region to find excellent ICT suppliers.
"These awards will let us showcase the very best we have, and raise awareness for everyone else."
The winners will be announced at the West Midlands ICT Cluster Annual Conference on November 18 at the Motorcycle Museum and presented by Sir Peter Rigby, Chairman and CEO of SCC plc, after his keynote address to the conference.
Meanwhile, Business support group Foresight West Midlands has teamed up with the West Midlands IT Association (WMITA) to host a free seminar at Wolverhampton Science Park.
The event takes place on Wednesday August 10 and is specifically aimed at companies in the ICT, manufacturing, building technology and transport sectors.
Funded by Advantage West Midlands and the European Regional Development Fund, Foresight aims to provide companies with the support needed to increase their competitiveness and profitability.
Experts at the event will give advice on marketing, delivery and how to secure funding from the public sector.
Mandira Sarkar, Foresight manager at Advantage West Midlands, said: "The majority of small businesses will not exist in ten years time but, with the right support, companies can work towards facing the challenges of the future.
"We are particularly looking to help companies who are involved in ICT, manufacturing, building technologies and transport.
"By collaborating with companies that might not necessarily be in the same line of business, we can help to exchange ideas and create a business plan that is both achievable and visionary.
" One of the mostm ost challenging parts of turning a great idea into reality can be finding the right source of funding and this will be a key part of the Foresight workshop."
For more information on the event see the WMITA website at www.wmita.com or call Pete Stevens on 02476 236392.