Business Link West Midlands has appointed a trio of "sector specialists" for the West Midlands, in a bid to improve its enterprise offer.
The organisation has added the Prince’s Trust – which caters 16 to 30-year-old entrepreneurs; the Women’s Business Development Agency (WBDA) and Tribal’s Creative Launchpad – which targets creative industries – to its list of providers.
Jill Parker, enterprise director for Business Link West Midlands, said: "We said that the service would herald a new era of support and this exactly what we are doing, with the appointment of three proven experts in the fields of young people, female and creative enterprises.
"These areas all share massive growth potential and, research has proven that they need a different type of help than the mainstream assistance. This is reflected in the working partnerships with the Prince’s Trust, WBDA and Tribal’s Creative Launchpad – organisations that are pioneering specialist support in both the Midlands and the UK."
Ms Parker said the appointments were a sign the organisation wanted to provide high-quality advice that met the needs of businesses and entrepreneurs.
The three specialists all have different ways of working with companies and individuals and will use their own training courses and development programmes to help start and expand businesses.
Other organisations that already provide support under the business Link scheme include Enterprise Central and Business Insight in Birmingham; Black Country Small Business Service; Business Enterprise Support in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire and the Eastern Region Enterprise Consortium in Coventry, Warwickshire and Staffordshire.
Business Link said it had joined forces with Tribal’s Creative Launchpad in order to help support the four per cent growth it expects in the creative industries over the next five years.
The organisation, which has a team of six advisers, has been providing enterprise support for the sector since 2004.
David Roberts, senior project manager at Creative Launchpad, said: "We hope to bring a platform for anyone in the creative industries to be understood and to bring mainstream support to their doorstep.
"The region has to embrace and successfully take ideas from new and emerging sectors and make them successful. I firmly believe this new approach will help play a part in establishing the West Midlands as a creative hub for the UK."
The Women’s Business Development Agency has entered into a partnership with Business Link in an attempt to increase the number of female entrepreneurs in the West Midlands.
Sally Arkley, director of WBDA, said: "We are here to help female entrepreneurs overcome the barriers they face with women-friendly advice, training and support provided both on a one-to-one basis and through West Midlands Woman – the most comprehensive women’s business website in the UK.
"This could be on any aspect of starting a new business, including initial planning, market research, raising finance and marketing the idea/product. We are also there after the launch and in the growth period, with all our services tailored to the needs and caring responsibilities of our clients."
Business Link added its alliance with the Prince’s Trust would offer more business opportunities and to young people to young people in the West Midlands.
Ms Parker said: "Where young people want to work with people of their own age, we will be setting up peer-to-peer mentoring, making sure they will be talking to people that have credibility and that they can rely on and trust.
"Furthermore, we will also be looking to bring forward young entrepreneurs as inspirational role models."
The Prince’s Trust‘s Paul Beesley said he was pleased Business Link had chosen to focus on young entrepreneurs.
He said: "Young people have often been overlooked in the past so it is very reassuring to see the renewed effort to engage with entrepreneurs at the very earliest age.
"This may be when they leave school, college, and university or, in some cases, individuals who may be planning their second career move.
"It is a very exciting time for the West Midlands and we are looking forward to bringing our own skills to the table."
Business Link West Midlands is already assessing the potential benefits of using networking websites like Facebook and MySpace to contact would-be young business people and have added the use of podcasting and "e-zines" – online magazines – as an alternative to more traditional communication methods.