Venturefest South West, a flagship event championing the most cutting edge innovation, technology and entrepreneurship coming out of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset in 2016, saw around 600 entrepreneurs, investors and innovators flock to Sandy Park, Exeter on Tuesday 18th October.
Venturefest South West brought together delegates for a day of collaboration between innovative businesses and potential investors. As well as exchanging ideas and industry insights to drive growth in the region, the event featured talks from world-class speakers and regional technology companies sharing their experience.
Accessing funding was a key focus area for the day with an expert panel exploring crowdfunding, grants, lending, business angels and venture capital along with a case study from Exeter based Ashwoods Automotive. Alongside sessions on collaboration, partnerships and exporting, the day’s sessions focused on key sectors for the region including Agri Tech, Marine Tech, Digital Health, Photonics, Satellite Applications and Big Data.
Martin Brown, Chair of Venturefest South West says, “Today’s event really exceeded all of our expectations. It was a powerful exchange of ideas with a real energy and focus for supporting tech businesses in the South West. We have seen exceptional innovations from across the region attracting the attention of investors and many valuable connections made. The success of this year’s event is proof that technology innovation is thriving in the South West.”
Exeter-based Custodian Solutions won the judges-choice award at the Pitchfest competition following a successful five-minute pitch. The product, an anti-counterfeit software platform, was selected by the panel from 11 other businesses pitching on the day. Joel Stobart, co-founder / CTO of Custodian Solutions said: “It’s incredible, we’re very surprised, there were some outstanding companies pitching. It’s a great moment for the company – our aim is to raise money and to grow the company to help stop counterfeiting.”
Among the speakers at Venturefest was Darren Westlake, CEO of Exeter-based Crowdcube who shared insights into building a disruptive fintech company in the South West. Professor Roy Sandbach, Director of the National Centre for Ageing Science & Innovation at Newcastle University and global expert in open innovation discussed innovating for business growth. Elizabeth Kavanagh, Head of HR and Research & Innovation at Stride Treglown, one of the UK’s top architectural practices helped delegates identify the ten key factors in collaboration for business success.
Adrian Dawson, head of GAIN projects and partnerships, at Plymouth University, a lead delivery partner for the event said: “This event brings to life our aims to create and foster collaboration and innovation. The overwhelming feedback from today is that the opportunity to connect with others has been invaluable. We are confident that this event has sparked many new connections which will continue to accelerate the region’s growth in the sector.”
Delegates also had access to previews of new products, services and technology on display at the Innovation Showcase and celebrated with the winners of Hackfest, a school competition which has given more than 200 students in the region the opportunity to create innovative products and build working prototypes.