On Tuesday 14 April over 1000 delegates gathered at East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham, for the inaugural Venturefest East Midlands. A mix of entrepreneurs, business owners, academics, business services and representatives of large multinationals joined together to grow the East Midlands’ innovation eco-system.
Highlights of the day included Simon Woodroffe OBE’s headline speech during which he acknowledged the importance of the East Midlands for UK business. His motivational address was warmly welcomed by the audience as he touched on his own experiences to inspire others.
Exhibitors and delegates successfully mixed throughout the event, discussing deals, potential projects, partnerships and much more.
Damien Baetens, Business Development Director at Transmit Start-ups commented, “We came to Venturefest East Midlands from Newcastle to build a better network in the Midlands. We’ve met with numerous new leads today and have built some fantastic connections.”
With a great atmosphere throughout the event, businesses were given real opportunities to network, innovate and grow.
Becky Brown, Project leader at Medilink, commented “There’s been such a good buzz today across many different sectors. It’s really given us the opportunity to connect with new businesses that we hadn’t met with before.”
Throughout the day delegates were encouraged to vote for the winners of the Next Generation competition through the event’s smartphone app. The successful projects were Nottingham’s Miles Waghorn with Techsilver, who emerged triumphant in the New Business Idea category with his e-commerice store providing innovative solutions to seniors, and Leicester’s Nayan Patel in the Early Stage Business category. Nayan’s business NYN-9 Ltd aims to advance hot and cold therapy by creating a single portable unit device, which replicates temperatures and sensations and can be controlled via mobile phone.
Also running throughout the day was Venturefest East Midlands’ pioneering live crowdfunding project with Crowdfunder. Delegates were pledging during the event and the winning business was Sinfonia Viva.
Simone Lennox-Gordon, Head of Development at Sinfonia Viva commented, “At Sinfonia Viva we are really excited at winning the Venturefest East Midlands Crowdfunder competition. The match funding we receive will increase everyone’s pledges by 50%, which is great news for the project and those people who are gifting to something they believe in. Our Mobile Inflatable Venue has really grabbed people’s attention and the competition has been a wonderful opportunity to promote our project further and build relationships with a wider audience”
The event successes also include Adam Bird, Founder and CEO of Cronofy, who won the “Best Pitch” prize run through Next Business Generation and Nottingham Pitch Perfect, supported by Nottingham City Council. Cronofy will receive prize money of £2000 to help the business.
Adam Bird commented, “VentureFest EM was a fantastic opportunity for us to share the vision for the API we’re building at Cronofy. We’re immensely proud to have been recognised as the best from a very strong field.”
The event has provided the East Midlands with an opportunity to celebrate their regional innovation ecosystem and grow even further. With so many new connections made at the event Venturefest East Midlands will be keeping up with the subsequent deals which are done as a result during the coming months.
Ejaz Qureshi, from The University of Nottingham who helped to coordinate the event, said: “Venturefest East Midlands was a tremendous success. We brought regional partners and the innovation ecosystem together in Nottingham, making it accessible to entrepreneurs and business people from across the region. SMEs also had the rare opportunity to meet with corporates such as Siemens, Rolls-Royce, Unilever and GSK and find out about opportunities to work with them. I’m sure that we will see many exciting deals being done and partnerships being developed over the coming weeks and months as a result of Venturefest East Midlands.”
Bruce Colley, Access to Finance Manager at Venturefest East Midlands’ national partner Innovate UK also demonstrated his delight with how the event had unfolded. “At Venturefest East Midlands we wanted to find local projects and local investors, it’s has certainly delivered. A fantastic format.”
Following such a successful inaugural event Venturefest East Midlands is delighted to announce that the event will return in 2016. On 16 – 17 March 2016 Venturefest East Midlands will be hosted in Leicester and further information will be announced in due course. Please stay connected on the website at www.venturefestem.com and on Twitter @VFeastmids.