The West Midlands is not good enough at marketing the region.
That is the view of the new man at the head of development agency AWM whose job is to help do something about it.
But Mick Laverty, chief executive of Advantage West Midlands, believes the region is ahead of the game on digital media but must build on the advantage.
He said: “We are not good enough at marketing the region – we need to get better at that.”
But he has revealed to The Birmingham Post that he is in the process of setting up a regional marketing board to tackle the problem.
The object will be to co-ordinate the activities of various bodies including Marketing Birmingham and InStaffs.
Mr Laverty rates Marketing Birmingham and its boss Neil Rami, but hints it could be taken forward. Marketing Birmingham had “potential”, he noted. And he accepts that someone has to tell the world about the major strengths of the region – the likes of Stratford-upon-Avon and all it has to offer and the now seriously large legal and accountancy sector in Birmingham.
Mr Laverty hopes to announce a chairman for the regional marketing board “in the next few weeks”.
Mr Laverty feels he stole a march on other areas of the UK when AWM recently became a key player in a £10 million digital media fund developed through an innovative partnership with broadcaster Channel 4 and regional screen agency Screen WM.
The launch saw Birmingham confirmed as the UK commissioning hub for England and Wales for Channel 4’s new Four Innovation for the Public fund (4IP) which will kick-start a wave of new investment in public service digital media content for audiences around Britain.
It takes in a £5 million investment from AWM, matched with £5 million from Channel 4. The fund will be managed through Screen WM, with Channel 4 providing high-level support and establishing a commissioning executive team located at the organisation’s offices in central Birmingham.
4IP is planned for launch this month, and will focus on mobile content, social networking sites like Facebook, and online drama series.
The fund will run for at least two years, and West Midlands’ companies will be able to apply for investment of between £20,000 and £1.5 million.
Mr Laverty highlights how this ties in with other ventures. There is the new Warwick Digital Laboratory, a £50 million initiative aimed at boosting research opportunities. Developed by Warwick Manufacturing Group, it is built next to the International Manufacturing Centre at the University of Warwick outside Coventry.
It will be handed over by builders Norwest Holst later this month and will immediately go into operation. It is claimed to be the first facility of its kind in the world and will target manufacturing, health, security and a whole range of other sectors.
Digital media will also play a major role.
“It is all building up,” said Mr Laverty. “All of a sudden we have our noses in front and we want to keep the momentum going. We want to become the home of digital media.”
The region claims to encompass 20 per cent of the UK’s games developers, the national centre-of-gravity for serious games, Channel 4’s largest Indie producers and an embryonic but growing interactive media company base.