Speakers to use networks and know-how to open doors for North East businesses

19 October 2016

Organisers of the region’s largest innovation event today announced their line-up of expert speakers who are intent on using their networks and know-how to open doors for North East businesses.

Inspirational speakers and industry leaders who are passionate about using their own experience to accelerate the growth of the region’s companies will take to the stage at VentureFest North East at St James’ Park, Newcastle, on November 8. Read the full list here.

Through a packed programme of keynote speeches, lively debates, informal discussions and issue-led workshops, regional businesses will not only get access to new market opportunities but will also discover new tools to allow them to innovate.

Almost 40 speakers will share their expertise over the full-day event, with keynotes including:

·        Nigel Mills, Entrepreneurs’ Forum

Nigel became Chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum in 2012, having been an original founder member from its inception in 2002. For 25 years up to March 2011, he was Managing Director of Mills Group plc, a chain of 77 convenience stores and eight supermarkets, which he sold to Tesco, retaining ownership of three supermarkets under the Nisa brand. He co-owns the four-star Trout Hotel in Cockermouth, Cumbria and is Chairman of The Lakes Distillery.

·         Gilbert Corrales, Leaf Music

Gilbert Corrales is the CEO of Leaf Music, a digital music and promotions platform that gives performing artists the power to connect with their fans in a direct and effective way. Gilbert started in the tech industry at the age of 18 working for Intel in his home country of Costa Rica. Over the past 12 years, he has been at the forefront of several state-of-the-art digital products for companies including Microsoft and interactive agency Possible.

·        Lucy Armstrong, The Alchemists

Lucy is Chief Executive of The Alchemists, which works with high growth mid-corporate businesses to accelerate their development. Her experience ranges from funding start-ups in the North East through to mergers and disposals of international operations. Lucy’s early career was spent in private equity, corporate development and headhunting. She was Chair of Capital for Enterprise until 2013 where she was responsible for over £4bn of government backed debt and equity support to private and family UK businesses.

·         Ian Campbell, Innovate UK

Ian has a wealth of experience in the life sciences and diagnostics sector. He most recently served as CEO of Arquer Diagnostics which focuses on developing and commercialising immunoassay tests for cancers of the urinogenitary tract. Last month, Ian became Director for Health and Life Sciences for Innovate UK. Previously he served as Chief Executive of Molecular Vision, an Imperial College spin-out company, which was acquired by Abingdon Health in 2012.

Chairing the morning keynote sessions will be Roy Sandbach, Director of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing at Newcastle University who has just stepped down as Chair of the Innovation Board for the North East LEP where he developed the region’s innovation strategy.

Other keynote speakers include Chris Jones, Research and Development Manager at Northumbrian Water Group,  James Hall, Programme Director, Cities of Tomorrow at ENGIE, and Geoff Archer, Head of Knowledge Exchange at Teesside University.  

Estelle Blanks, Deputy Director at Innovation SuperNetwork which delivers VentureFest North East, said: “We are really excited about the range and quality of speakers we have planned for November 8. 

“Over the course of the day regional businesses will be able to get access to industry-leading experts who will open doors to lucrative new market opportunities, provide the latest innovation tools and techniques, and shine a light on the emerging trends that can impact on their bottom line.”

VentureFest North East will bring together 700 businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors with investors and advisors who have a specific interest in innovation. By stimulating new ideas, building networks, brokering funding deals and providing practical tools for business growth, the aim is to increase the number of innovative products and services coming out of the region. 

VentureFest North East is part of the wider Innovation SuperNetwork programme, developed with around 50 partner organisations to support innovation in the North East. Led by the VentureFest North East team, the SuperNetwork is supported by Innovate UK, the North East LEP and North East BIC, with part-funding from the European Regional Development Fund. 

·        Registrations are now open for VentureFest at venturefestnortheast.com and attendance is free to all businesses.

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