A new initiative aimed at helping people get business ideas off the ground in Birmingham and the Black Country has launched.

'Civic Foundry' has recruited about 70 participants, some up to 70 years of age, and has a £375,000 funding pot available to support the budding entrepreneurs.

The foundry will develop and support their ideas for improving their communities and local structures across Birmingham and the Black Country.

Over the course of a 20-week programme, participants will move from having early-stage ideas investment-ready ventures.

A launch event was held on Saturday in the 'Hub Birmingham' space at Millennium Point after which participants will be forming teams, deciding missions and designing and prototyping new ventures and businesses together.

Heath Town-based community development programme Black Country Country Make and Beatfreeks, a social enterprise aimed at inspiring young people through arts, are among those taking part.

Imandeep Kaur, of the Civic Foundry team, said: "Over 120 people applied to take part in this first stage of the Civic Foundry and the chosen participants range in age from 19 to 70.

"We're very proud of the amazing quality, not to mention diversity and full gender balance of our cohort, and can't wait to see what they create together over the course of the programme."

The Civic Foundry is delivered by Civic Systems Lab and Solve, and funded by the Cabinet Office and the Accord Group.

Dr Chris Handy, chief executive of the Accord Group, added: "We are delighted to be investing further in the future of Birmingham and the Black Country.

"It is a privilege to work with great people through the Civic Foundry to make their neighbourhoods, their communities and their city an even more vibrant place to live and work for generations to come."

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