The region’s innovation conference VentureFest North East has announced a series of new features aimed at making its 2016 event the largest and most successful yet at helping businesses to grow.
The annual autumn conference has grown to 700 people this year and its next gathering on 8 November at St James’ Park will comprise a programme packed with inspiring new content, as well as tried and tested highlights.
This year’s conference will see the introduction of Innovation Challenge North East, a project focusing on helping businesses explore how to turn the real-world challenges facing large corporates, the public sector and society at large into commercial opportunities for their organisations.
Delegates will be able to meet face-to-face with some of the large corporates, such as Northumbrian Water and ENGIE, to hear about the challenges facing their businesses and discuss whether they have the technology, services and talent to provide solutions.
Northumbrian Water will discuss the opportunity for businesses to help map its vast sewage network and how solutions could include technology able to determine the level of sewers, devices that offer streaming of data and even approaches based on citizen science or gamification.
Chris Jones, Research and Development Manager at Northumbrian Water: “Large organisations like ours face complex operational challenges and while we know there will be businesses in the region with the skills and expertise to provide solutions the issue has always been in reaching out to them.
“VentureFest provides us with an exciting opportunity to access a wide network of talent and find solutions faster. We will be on hand to meet delegates face-to-face and discuss how they might be able to turn our challenges into commercial opportunities for their businesses and I’m looking forward to a day of exploring innovation in the North East.“
Businesses will get the chance to see how an innovation sandpit works as an intense innovation process to generate fresh ideas and stimulate creative thinking, with Northumbria University students coming up with solutions to tackle a big issue over the course of the day.
Other new developments include the inclusion of FinanceCamp at VentureFest for the first time. FinanceCamp is a programme that prepares businesses for investment and then brings them together with potential investors and lenders in a succession of quick meetings.
The North East LEP is also bringing its North East Growth Hub to the event to help answer questions of businesses relating to their growth. Usually a digital resource, Growth Hub Live will bring the information, knowledge, advice and support of the region’s business community to VentureFest so experts can discuss issues in person.
Estelle Blanks, Deputy Director of Innovation SuperNetwork which delivers VentureFest North East, said: “The purpose of VentureFest North East is to provide a unique day in the business calendar that is dedicated to bringing people together to explore new opportunities and overcome challenges standing in the way of their business growth.
“We are dedicated to constantly evolving the event, working closely with the region’s business community to ensure it reflects the needs of our delegates and highlights the latest innovation trends. This year’s programme is packed with content to inspire and inform businesses of all sizes and sectors and we look forward to opening the doors in November to our largest gathering of innovators to date.”
Registrations are now open for VentureFest at venturefestnortheast.com and attendance is free to all businesses.
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.