Innovative entrepreneurs turn out for Venturefest launch

Conference will provide workshops, high profile speakers and one-to-coaching sessions from industry experts

From left, Ian Tracey, Roy Sandbach and Simon Green at the launch of Venturefest North East 2015
From left, Ian Tracey, Roy Sandbach and Simon Green at the launch of Venturefest North East 2015

More than 150 entrepreneurs and business leaders from around the region have met for the launch of innovation conference Venturefest North East 2015.

Held at The Core at Newcastle’s Science Central, the event included talks from representatives of Newcastle Science City, the Knowledge Transfer Network and the North East LEP, all of whom helped deliver last year’s sell-out conference with support from Innovate UK.

Venturefest North East is a free, full-day, annual conference focussed on how businesses can embrace innovative thinking. It is designed to bring together businesses, corporates, investors, academics and advisors with specific expertise in the subject.

The programme also offers attendees the chance to hear from high profile speakers and take part in both workshops and one-to-one coaching sessions from industry experts.

In 2014, the inaugural conference attracted around 500 people, gaining positive feedback from delegates, sponsors and participants.

The commercial impact of the event is still being calculated, but organisers say business advice and services were accessed from over 40 exhibitors, more than 250 ‘elevator pitch’ meetings were held and 14 start-ups were offered funding at the event itself.

This year’s conference, to be held on October 13, will be drawing on such successes and ensuring many of the components of 2014’s programme are replicated. Further details will be announced in the spring.

Speaking at the launch, Simon Green, head of business support at Newcastle Science City, said: “Venturefest is a relatively recent arrival for the North East but it already has a strong following in the region’s innovation community.

“Following the sell-out event in 2014, we’re aiming to grow to 600 attendees this year.

“With the support of partners like Innovate UK and the North East LEP, Venturefest North East will continue to grow in scale and impact in the coming years.”

Ian Tracey, head of Access to Funding & Finance from the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), outlined the national significant of the event.

“Venturefest is a key initiative for the UK’s innovation agenda,” he said. “In the next three years, the KTN will be working to create a national network of around 12 events, covering the whole of the UK.

“Venturefest North East is a particular example of how these events can quickly become part of their local innovation eco-systems.”

Last year, the conference saw the North East LEP introduce its new Innovation Programme, outlining new opportunities for regional businesses.

The Government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, also chose to use the event to launch a new £2m national feasibility funding competition for the technology sector.

Chairman of the LEP’s innovation board, Roy Sandbach, said: “The North East LEP sees innovation as a vital element in creating more and better jobs for the region. Our Innovation Programme emphasises more collaborative working between small businesses, corporates and universities as a way to achieve this.

“Venturefest is an excellent way to bring these organisations together and we need our whole innovation community to engage with and support it.”

Registration is now open at www.venturefestnortheast.com and more details will be released on Twitter (@VenturefestNE) as the plans develop.

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