Innovation in Manufacturing: How to Make More Money

Teaming-up with the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF), VentureFest North East is shining a spotlight on manufacturing at this year’s event, giving businesses the chance to reduce costs, improve productivity and develop new market opportunities.

Responding directly to the needs of regional manufacturing businesses, the strand of activity has been developed with the aim of providing tangible opportunities for manufacturers and engineers.

What to expect: Covering how businesses can innovate and create a strategy to get the most out of digitisation, this breakfast session is all about equipping manufacturing businesses with the strategic insight to futureproof sustainable growth through digitisation.


Richard Halstead


Richard began his career in manufacturing with Lucas Industries spending 18 years with the company through its merger with Lucas Varity and, subsequent takeover by TRW where he became UK Operations Director for its Automotive Aftermarket business.

After working as Commercial Director for an SME, he became Commercial Director for Yuasa Battery Europe Ltd and then Business Unit Director for MAC Tools, part of Stanley UK Ltd.  Latterly he worked for the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce on a project engaging at the most senior level with Strategic Businesses.

He joined EEF as Midlands & East Region Director in March 2011 and in 2017 was appointed to be Membership Director for the North.

Ian Lloyd


Having led the Siemens Technical programme of works , Ian is now Siemens Digital Transformation Manager, and heads up a MindShpere Application Centre that will build new digital services for the future. Ian’s career started in the electricity supply industry as an electrical apprentice with the CEGB at Aberthaw Power station in South Wales. He went on to specialise in the semiconductor industry supporting the manufacturing process for integrated circuits on silicon wafers in dry plasma etch and vertical thermal chemical vapour deposition reactors, before re-joining the electricity supply industry with Northern Powergrid.

Diana Sandford


Diana Sandford joined Venator in January 2013, where she leads the company’s solar team based at Wynyard Park in the UK. Venator is a leading global chemical company dedicated to the development and manufacture of titanium dioxide pigments and performance additives. Diana has a BSc (Hons) in Applied Chemistry from Sheffield Hallam University and a BA (Hons) in Mathematics from the Open University. Her industrial career started in the analytical department of a small chemical company that made synthetic pythrethroid insecticides.  She has since worked in a range of sectors, but predominantly based in the chemical industry.


Richard Egginton

Sotech Optima

Sotech are an SME manufacturer based in the North East supplying exterior façade products to the construction industry. Richard has a passion for exploring the art of the possible by analysing new and emergent technologies to further enhance the companies efforts towards digitisation and automation. Richard has recently completed a number of pathfinder programmes for government backed schemes and is working collaboratively with local like-minded SMEs to maximise the impact of digitisation on efficiency, effectiveness and engagement.

Andrew Turner

Andrew Turner Innovations

Andrew has successfully invented a product for the Automotive Industry, and is now working with local business man Bill Scott on his highly innovative Emergency Evacuation System. In the healthcare sector – Andrew founded Quality Hospital Solutions (QHS) and works in collaboration with City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and more recently Gateshead NHS in order to deliver innovations to the NHS that offer measurable improvements in patient comfort & safety.

Matt Atkinson

System 88

Matt Atkinson is founder of SystemEightyEight Limited, a digital strategy company. He’s been described as a ‘Process Evangelist’ and likes that, a lot. He helps clients to evaluate business operations and apply digital know-how to identify smarter ways of working.

Matt began his professional IT career with Computacenter, based in the City of London. He was head-hunted by Sage in Newcastle and joined the senior team as Head of IS. Matt furthered his experience by working as Solutions Director and Commercial Director for two regional SME’s before founding SystemEightyEight in January 2018.