A scheme aiming to tap the entrepreneurial talent of the region's universities, and which is responsible for the start of over 40 businesses across the West Midlands is to offer an award to help kick-start new ideas.
The Enterprise Fellowship Scheme gives successful candidates a financial support package of up to £14,000 made up of a maximum £10,000 award and an entrepreneurial support budget of up to £4,000 for specialist advice and equipment to get businesses off the ground.
The scheme was originally designed to encourage and support staff, students and alumni of universities across the region to turn technology or design-based ideas into businesses.
Following massive demand the scheme was expanded so anybody with a suitable idea could come forward - although their proposal must have potential benefits to the university and any business should preferably be West Midlands-based.
Applicants need to prove to an expert panel they have the time and commitment to develop their idea, which must demonstrate innovative design or technology, before being offered a place on the EFS programme.
In addition to the award and entrepreneurial support package, successful Fellows have access to hot desk accommodation at a science park or equivalent, business mentoring to access specialist commercial expertise and membership of the investor and entrepreneur network Connect Midlands.
An expanded Business Readiness workshop with an emphasis on marketing was piloted this year and will be included in the package.
"The EFS programme offers budding entrepreneurs the chance to use their ideas, vision and enthusiasm to establish a sound business," said EFS director, Isabell Majewsky.
"EFS has been very successful since it began but there is no room for complacency. The new scheme has been restructured following feedback from past Fellows and our partner universities.
We look forward to even greater success with the new approach and we shall be showcasing the best companies at our flagship event, New VentureFest, which is being held at the National Motorcycle Museum on November 1."
New VentureFest is a celebration of the achievements of Enterprise Fellows from the universities of Central England, Birmingham, Coventry, HarperAdamsUniversityCollege, Keele, Staffordshire, Warwick and Wolverhampton.
The EFS programme is funded by the the Higher Education Funding Council for England.