The Staffordshire ceramics industry which has been decimated in recent years is to be bolstered by almost #500,000 in extra support.
The sector has gone from 15,000 employees in 2001 to 11,000 last year as it reeled from the loss of many firms, including Royal Doulton which closed its Nile Street factory and shifted production to Indonesia.
An onslaught from cheap Far Eastern imports dented the industry.
Advantage West Midlands has agreed a three-year funding package of about #475,000 to enable the Ceramic Industry Forum to continue its work helping West Midlands ceramic companies improve their productivity and competitiveness.
The money is to replace the Department of Trade and Industry Funding which was due to run out in March. After that the CIF has been told there will be no more hand outs and it must become a self-sustaining organisation.
It was established in September 2000 with the aim of helping ceramic firms improve manufacturing processes, adopt innovative design and marketing and make better use of skills.
Since then CIF has helped launch 1,600 new products and enabled companies to make #3.7 million worth of efficiency savings thanks to innovations designed by CIF's process improvement engineers.
The organisation has helped establish 40 new companies, and identified #16 million of further savings. CIF also managed the successful University on the Shop Floor project, funded by Advantage West Midlands, which has provided 60,000 hours of continued learning and training opportunities enabling staff employed in the ceramics industry to improve and diversify their skills.
Sue Evans, chief executive at the CIF, said: "The ceramic industry has had to respond to the new challenges of a globally competitive market place and the continual trading difficulties posed by high energy costs and competition from overseas manufacturers.
"We are delighted at the continued financial support from Advantage West Midlands."
Marie Greer, director for Staffordshire at Advantage West Midlands, said: "The Agency's funding of CIF will have a positive impact on the industry, providing intensive business assistance to around 50 firms and skills development for around 200 people.
"Advantage West Midlands has a key priority to develop a diverse and dynamic business base and we recognise that a competitive and innovative ceramics industry has an important strategic role to play in the region's future prosperity."