The BBC has announced a new digital innovation unit to be based in Birmingham – as it takes baby steps towards addressing a shortfall in investment in the Midlands.
The broadcaster has announced a new unit, called the Guerrilla Group, will explore the next generation of content, working out of the city.
It says from later this year, a team of storytellers and engineers in Birmingham will begin to work across the BBC with a focus on engaging younger, more diverse audiences, and will be fully up and running from 2015.
It is thought the group will be based in Digbeth, at the heart of the city’s digital quarter, and will have creative freedom to produce experimental new forms of content for programmes and services, using the technology and approaches of the future.
The Post has previously reported that the Midlands receives far less investment per head than any other BBC region.
While it invests less than £100 million a year, if spending in the region reflected the average BBC spend across the UK it would be investing £485 million each year.
However, director general Tony Hall announced new plans , including investing £23.5 million and creating about 80 jobs, last year and this announcement follows that.
James Purnell, director, strategy and digital at the BBC, said: “Innovation at the BBC has never stood still, from the birth of radio and TV, to the first steps into the digital world with BBC Micro Computers and Ceefax, through to more recent services like BBC iPlayer. The Guerrilla Group will help us explore the next-generation of BBC content and services, finding new and creative ways to tell our stories to future audiences.”
It is thought the Guerrilla Group will consist of six people based in Digbeth.
The announcement comes after Mr Hall announced he wanted to make the city a digital centre of excellence, while its Mailbox headquarters will serve as a hub for training.
The group will work with the BBC’s R&D department, Connected Studio, BBC brands and audience members, as well as partnering and collaborating with a range of organisations, start-ups and SMEs.
It comes after work between the broadcaster and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.
Tommy Nagra, head of business development at BBC Birmingham, said: “This is a tremendous boost for our plans for the BBC in Birmingham and demonstrates our commitment to developing something new, innovative and future facing. Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe, making it the ideal new home and testing ground for our brand new digital content innovation team.”