A virtual company which pools the skills and resources of the region's manufacturers as Midlands Plc has been launched.
Fourteen automotive suppliers from across Birmingham and the Black Country have come together to create the body which will help them compete on the global stage.
The new combined organisation boasts a turnover of more than £50 million and 400 staff in different sectors of the automotive industry.
Members include toolmaker and pressing manufacturer APS, and steel flame cutters Malthouse Engineering, laser profile cutter Ceandess, and steel tube supplier W P Stainless.
This has been linked to high tech expertise from software developer Delcam and the Caparo innovation centre which tests new product ideas.
More than £2.7 million of potential contracts have already been registered with the organisation, which has been called the Accelerate Business Development Network. The work includes projects from Tier 1 suppliers, the medical sector and a project that involves a ramp which generates electricity when vehicles drive over it.
Alan Evans, managing director of management consultancy Alan Evans Associates (AEA), is overseeing the scheme which has received £100,000 of first year funding from the supply chain initiative Accelerate.
He said: "We had been looking at creating a virtual company of complimentary manufacturers for some time, a development that was accelerated with the demise of MG Rover leaving a legacy of lost work and additional capacity in the supply chain.
"We canvassed interest from potential members and within a matter of weeks, had 14 companies interested in joining the network, many of whom had been involved in previous AEA improvement projects and networks.
" Lean manufacturing methods alone are no longer good enough to secure a profitable niche in the market.
"It is increasingly essential to develop and produce higher added value products and processes to differentiate UK manufacturers from foreign competition.
"There are good reasons to believe that if we can do this effectively, domestic customers will want to deal with a local supply group."
Mr Evans said nothing like the ABDN had been attempted in the UK, but similar schemes had proved successful when attempted in Japan.
SMEs who are often restricted by limited resources and lack of marketing and sales expertise will be able to use ABDN to research opportunities and find new market and product sectors.
As each order is identified, a virtual manufacturing company will be formed to make the more complex products.
Alan Evans Associates will help facilitate access to additional expertise in the design, software development and also the rapid prototyping areas.
Mr Evans said: "Another dimension of support will be exploring the manufacturing opportunities presented by new products and inventions that may need a production capacity to bring them to market.
"In this respect, Caparo Innovation Centre will use its tried and tested methodology to work out the commercial viability of new products."
Each of the members will be able to combine their skills and capacities to enable them to take on more complex and larger orders than they normally would be able.
This conglomeration of abilities is intended to make local businesses more competitive on a global scale so they compete with lower wage economies in the Far East.
David Malpass, senior operations manager at Accelerate, said: " This is an extremely important development and one that recognises the regional need to continually win new businesses."