Over 1000 people attended this year’s Venturefest North West on 13 September 2018, providing further evidence that the region is a leading centre for innovation.
Former Altrincham Grammar School pupil and founder of CENTURY Tech, Priya Lakhani OBE hosted the event and highlighted in her opening remarks that start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs are the businesses best-placed to be innovative. Whilst working as an adviser at the board for the Secretary of State for Business, Skills and Innovation, Priya learnt of the challenges facing the education sector and began working on CENTURY Tech as a way to use technology to improve education.
Next to take to the stage was Jenny Tooth OBE, CEO of UK Business Angels Association. Jenny outlined her background as an angel investor and explained to businesses looking for investment how the angel investment market worked. She highlighted that 65% of angel investment activity took place in London and the South East, and that she was working closely with partners like the Growth Company to help nurture a vibrant angel investment offer in the North West to address the gap.
Mike Anderson, CEO of Padoq, and founder of digital agency Nothing But Epic, was the final speaker of the morning session. He told delegates that winning the Innovation Showcase competition at Venturefest 2016 was key to the success of the Padoq concept. Mike shared a number of valuable business lessons he had learned over the last two years and announced that the Padoq product had officially gone live that morning to coincide with Venturefest.
At the centre of this year’s event was the annual Innovation Showcase Competition, which was open to start-up and scale-up businesses from across the region. Twelve companies had been shortlisted from more than 170 entries across four categories – Product Innovation, Service Innovation, Digital Innovation and Innovative Established Business. At stake was a business support package worth thousands of pounds and national visibility. Following an impressive and informative set of pitches that demonstrated the outstanding level of innovation across a range of sectors in the region, the Overall Innovation Showcase award was won by Reach and Rescue Ltd.
Throughout the day there were a number breakout sessions, including ‘meet the funder’ which was hosted by GC Business Growth Hub and supported by Grant Thornton. Meet the funder provided business owners who are seeking finance opportunities to have one-to-one meetings with various funders and investors. Alex Means, Start Up Loans Manager of GC Business Finance, also took part in the meet the funder sessions. Of those business that he met with, 50% of them are eligible and will be considered for a Start Up Loan.
Numerous business units from the Growth Company were represented at Venturefest North West, including GC Business Growth Hub, GC Angels and GC International Trade. GC Angels and GC Business Finance joined forced to host an exhibitor stand together. The stand was consistently busy all day and resulted in over 50 new businesses that we are able to support in the future.
Thanks to everyone who made the event such a huge success.