West Midlands' digital dynamism goes global for second year in a row
The West Midlands’ growing reputation for excellence in digital media is going global again with the help of UK Trade & Investment embassy staff from China, France, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, Spain, New York, San Francisco and Houston.
An influential UKTI delegation went to see the work of cutting-edge digital media businesses operating in the region during a special visit arranged by the Inward Investment team at Advantage West Midlands, supported by Screen WM.
This is the second time in less than a year that such a delegation has visited the region to learn more about the West Midlands’ digital offer.
The West Midlands is the hub of a vibrant digital media sector which influences everybody’s lives, from leisure and lifestyle to business and communication. It includes television, animation, radio and digital imaging, with particular strengths in games production and serious games.
The tour itinerary included visits to:
- Maverick TV – from TV production to a digital company moving into new markets – including a new £15m contract with the National Health Service
- Daden – a Virtual Worlds and AI solution provider – Second Life and the US Military
- Fazeley Studios, Digbeth, where Microsoft Games Studio, Rare Games has recently chosen to locate their new Birmingham centre
- The New Technology Institute (NTI) – to learn about Wevee – a unique collaboration between traditional TV company, Televison Junction and pioneering digital creative agency Clusta. WeVee is a new innovative archive tool bringing the regions history to life. Then to embark on a QR code treasure hunt, and learn how Birmingham City University work directly with the local technology and creative sector, showing a pioneering approach to skills development for the games industry.
Richard Butler, Head of Inward Investment at Advantage West Midlands, said: “We’re committed to being at the forefront of the digital media sector – and it is vital that in such tough times for the global economy, we promote our region’s capabilities and expertise in international markets.
“It speaks volumes about the West Midlands’ strength in digital media that we have attracted a repeat visit by a UKT&I delegation and we are delighted to see them.
“For companies looking to invest in digital media, the West Midlands is the place to be. The collaboration between the region’s universities, science and technology parks and companies of all sizes combined with regional support and funding for digital media is paying dividends.
We now have a track record of attracting world-class digital companies to a region which is also rich with ‘home-grown’ talent. There’s a real buzz to this business sector – and we hope that creativity, innovation and support will attract investors from overseas.
Jonathan Webber, UK Trade & Investment’s director of international trade for Birmingham, who takes the lead for the digital media cluster, said: “I was delighted that so many businesses took advantage of this excellent opportunity to meet the commercial officers and gain invaluable, practical advice on reaching these markets.
“The West Midlands digital media sector has developed cutting-edge products and services, continues to innovate and has the capability to trade globally.
“There is a huge range of expertise in this region and we are here to help the companies to make the most of their knowledge and skills on an international stage.”
Paul Davies, digital producer from Birmingham-based Television Junction, said: “My colleagues and I felt we were knocking at an open door with genuine interest in exploring sales possibilities for digital products with internationally known companies and public sector bodies that, were it not for UK Trade & Investment’s support, would fall outside our marketing capabilities.
“We came away with three positive contacts spanning three continents. We had terrific feedback on our demonstration of our latest digital tool, WeVee, with many delegates making their own films from archive clips and sending them home.
“This region really does have the potential to be the ‘silicon valley’ of the digital age and this is just the sort of help we need as we establish ourselves on the world map.”