Birmingham Forward, the city’s professional firm membership organisation, has launched a new programme to boost Birmingham’s status on the world stage.

The group has created the Birmingham Forward Ambassadors programme which is designed to attract foreign investors to the city.

Callum Girvan, marketing director for Wesleyan Assurance Society, Birmingham Forward board director and key figurehead for a new ambassador project in the region, said that Birmingham suffered from a “perception problem”.

“Once people get here, they love it, but they are often reluctant to come as they remember the city as it was 20 years ago – stagnant canals and crying out for regeneration,” he said.

“We have a great offering to attract people to Birmingham from London and around the world but we need to focus on getting them here and making them advocates.

“We’re not fooling ourselves. Deutsche Bank came here after testing Birmingham against many other locations across the world so, as a city, it’s within our grasp.

“The Birmingham Forward Ambassador programme is all about public and private partnership.

“We’re going to have regular updates but, most importantly, we’re equipping people to shout up for Birmingham.”

Speaking at the recent launch, Roel Spee, global location consultant for IBM Global Business Services, said investors were looking for a stable economy with flexibility of employment and a strong infrastructure.

“To win at the inward investment game, you need to stand out. Building a compelling vision is the best place to start. For instance, Birmingham and Manchester are fairly evenly stacked with each other but Birmingham often punches below its weight in projecting that compelling offer internationally.”

Mr Spee also spoke of the potential Birmingham has to offer as a global city and how the city can use its status within Europe to attract world class talent:

“Birmingham has huge potential to be a hotspot for investment. You have several opportunities in education, for example. I didn’t realise how many universities there are in this region.

“A quarter of all R&D (research and development) jobs in Europe are UK-based and a high number of students choose to both study and start their career in Birmingham.

“In my opinion, Birmingham should focus its offer around the competencies its universities offer.

“It should explore opportunities in renewable energies and financial services sectors, as well as database centres and middle offices.

“Increasingly global organisations are looking to cities to broker partnerships with indigenous companies rather than set up offices.”