Ian Ward, right, believes West Midlands' youthful population is one of their best "selling points" ©WMGC

West Midlands has signed a 10-year partnership with the Global Esports Federation (GEF) here as the region seeks to exploit its youthful population and host a future edition of the Global Esports Games.

The agreement, which was officially launched at a gathering of local and esports leaders, aims to make West Midlands a hub for esports in the United Kingdom.

As a part of the deal, West Midlands will join a Esports Global Cities Network, which includes places such as Singapore, Dubai, Istanbul and Los Angeles, stage the Global Esports Tour in 2023-2024 and bid to host the Global Esports Games in 2027-2028.

It is also expected to establish a range of initiatives concerning education, health and the future of work and a regional GEF Innovation and Research Centre to drive collaboration between West Midlands’ universities and the private sector.

This is in addition to furthering the skills of people in the area through cooperation with local leading game developers, including Ubisoft, Playground and Codemasters.

An independent report into the West Midlands esports sector has also been agreed alongside the hosting of an annual GEF World Forum in the region.

Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward hailed the decade-long West Midlands Esports Alliance during a speech at the signing event, claiming the region’s youthful population is one of its best "selling points."

West Midlands and the GEF signed a 10-year partnership to revolutionise esports in the region ©WMGC
West Midlands and the GEF signed a 10-year partnership to revolutionise esports in the region ©WMGC

He remarked that 37 per cent of our population is under the age of 25, making it one of the youngest cities in Europe.

"That gives us the challenge of how we will harness all of that potential, vibrancy and innovation and leads to the responsibility we have to create a blueprint for growth and inspires to develop the young people that represent the city’s future," Ward said.

"That is exactly what is at the heart of this exciting partnership.

"Today’s agreement has the potential to support our economic priorities in a number of ways, including enhancing our growing reputation as a world leading destination for major sporting events."

He added: "This agreement spanning 10 years, led by the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC), will cement the region as a hotbed for the esports and gaming industry, with the West Midlands already responsible for one quarter of the UK’s output.

"Esports and gaming will have a huge part to play in a golden decade of opportunity for the city of Birmingham."

Paul Foster, the President of the GEF, called the new agreement "a day of vision and hope” and added that the two partners are united together for "a decade of development."

Birmingham has hosted several competitions in recent years, including the 2019 Cricket World Cup ©Getty Images
Birmingham has hosted several competitions in recent years, including the 2019 Cricket World Cup ©Getty Images

Birmingham is set to hold the inaugural Commonwealth Esports Championships and Forum between August 6 and 7, as a result of the strategic partnership between the GEF and the Commonwealth Games Federation, at the International Convention Centre.

It is planned to have its own branding and medals, meaning it will be separate of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

These events are due to be part of a list of competitions the region has staged in recent years, which includes the International Association of Athletics Federations World Athletics Championships, World Gymnastics Championships, the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes, and the All England Badminton Championships.

Hosting the Global Esports Games could be another landmark moment for the region, considering that Singapore 2021 drew more than 500 million viewers and that the GEF has set a goal of attracting one billion viewers for Istanbul 2022.

A total of 130 games companies are in the West Midlands while the sector employs a workforce of an excess of 3,000 games professionals.

The University of Warwick was named the UK Esports University of the Year for the fourth successive time and Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers has become a significant esports player.

The football club signed a partnership with Evil Geniuses, a leading esports organisation in the United States.