Teesside’s first edition of the national innovation event VentureFest has been hailed a huge success.
VentureFest Tees Valley threw open its doors on Wednesday (September 13) at Wynyard Hall, welcoming hundreds of local businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and experts for a day dedicated to further strengthening the regional economy through innovation.
Practical workshops, lively discussions, inspiring exhibitions, networking and expert advice sessions provided a unique opportunity to share ideas and make valuable new connections. A total of 180 one-to-one meetings were also organised between investors and companies looking to raise cash.
Keynote speakers focused on highlighting current innovation successes in the Tees Valley, as well as new opportunities for businesses in the area to grow, become more profitable and generate new jobs.
Speakers included Matthew Burke of Williams Advanced Engineering, Professor Andrew Owens of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Ross Burton of the Knowledge Transfer Network, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, Joanne Whitfield of FW Capital, Laura Woods of Teesside University and Richard Lane of durhamlane.
Simon Green, director at VentureFest Tees Valley (pictured outside Wynyard Hall during the event), said: “VentureFest is all about bringing together people who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to meet to share ideas and learning.
“By connecting different sectors of the business community in this way we are creating a fertile environment where new innovations and collaborations can be explored.
“Tees Valley businesses have really embraced the concept and seized the opportunity to get involved and we look forward to hearing about the results of the many conversations that started here today.”
A dozen innovative companies from across the Tees Valley were selected to take part in an Innovation Showcase exhibition where they demonstrated their bright ideas.
Peter Lillie, commercial director at GRN, was among them – showcasing the Middlesbrough company’s sportswear made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets.
He said: “It’s been an incredibly useful event. There has been a wide range of entrepreneurs, new companies and more established businesses spreading the word about what they do and what’s going on in the region.
“I’ve had some really good conversations with a huge spread of organisations in the space of a few hours. We’ve covered everything from university facilities and council support to investment from finance houses. It’s been a day very well spent.”
Tees Valley’s addition to the VentureFest calendar of UK events followed last year’s successful trial event Innovate Tees Valley Festival, which attracted 260 delegates to the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, and showcased the wealth of innovation taking place in the area.
The event’s founding partners are Innovate Tees Valley, Tees Valley Combined Authority and the Knowledge Transfer Network.
It receives funding from the £6.5m Innovate Tees Valley programme, led by Teesside University with partners NEPIC, the Materials Processing Institute and Digital City and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.