Businesses have the opportunity to grab a slice of £3.8 million after the extension of a West Midland grant scheme.

The Technology Transfer Fund has been given the extra money to help firms create prototypes, apply for patents and develop their products and processes.

After a first when £1.4 million was invested, TTF now covers the entire Central Technology Belt - the high-technology corridor running from Birmingham to Malvern.

Grants of up to £25,000 are available for companies working in the advanced materials and medical technologies fields.

Paul Sadler, managing director of Birmingham Research and Development, who manage the scheme, said: "This extension is great news for West Midlands businesses.

"By minimising the fuss and maximising the benefit, the TTF has been a huge hit with the region's small and medium sized companies."

The fund was officially relaunched at an event at Edgbaston Cricket Ground. Guest speakers included successful TTF bidders Secure Access Solutions, who design and manufacture an anti- "shoulder surfing" Chip and PIN ViewSafe device.

SAS's managing director Neil Radford said: "This backing is an essential ingredient for innovative start-up companies and we would of never arrived at this stage without their support.

"We have now received very encouraging feedback from retailers and the Chip and PIN industry at large and we look forward to realising the commercialisation of our ViewSafe technology."

Other projects funded so far include environmentallyfriendly lighting, hand-held computer displays and a laser-monitoring device for use in operating theatres.

Alan White, chief executive of the Central Technology Belt, also welcomed the new funding. He said: "The TTF plays a crucial role in turning great ideas into real products."

The TTF is a partnership between Advantage West Midlands, Birmingham City Council, Aston University, the University of Birmingham, Worcester City Council, and the European Regional Development Fund.