Local companies that use online marketing more effectively, can now access a series of courses to help improve their knowledge.

In its first media initiative since it was renamed Birmingham City University Technology Innovation Centre (TIC), the TIC is launching the masterclasses with a breakfast workshop this Thursday.

The series will be delivered by TIC together with ITS (WSI), who belong to the 1500-strong, international WSI Internet Consulting and Education network.

The 'Moving to e-business' workshops form part of TIC's Market Maker programme and will be hosted at a number of venues across the West Midlands.

The programme is aimed at business owners, sales and marketing managers and individual entrepreneurs committed to exploring new methods of business promotion.

Through its Market Maker scheme, TIC offers low-cost assistance to eligible West Midlands' small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), seeking to make best use of use of online creative, media and e-business technologies.

Mal Purewal from ITS (WSI) said: "Most small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are unaware of how to avoid the common pitfalls of e-business, such as an out-of-date solution, difficult or costly to maintain, no accountability, no measurement of effectiveness, poor navigation, no compliance with accessibility requirements and no 'return' on investment.

"Our objective at these classes is to interact with local businesses and educate them on how they can steer clear of these obstacles and ensure their web solutions make them money." Participants will also be able to access business advice through Business Link West Midlands and will be entitled to a free assessment of their website's effectiveness by consultants.

Kul Sanghera, Business Link West Midlands' market development director, said: "The Internet is a very powerful tool for companies and can help them win new orders and become more efficient and productive.

"With this in mind, we are delighted to join forces with WSI and TIC to provide a master-class opportunity for entrepreneurs and grow-ing firms. It is another example of our desire to work in partnership with the best providers of knowledge in the industry, an approach we hope to reciprocate in other specialist fields." :