Hundreds of local businesses, entrepreneurs and investors descended upon Wynyard Hall yesterday (Wednesday 13 September), as national innovation event VentureFest staged its first Tees Valley edition.
Collaboration was the key theme of the day as practical workshops coupled with exhibitions, networking and expert advice sessions provided the opportunity to share ideas and make 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, 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.”
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.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It has been a privilege to have the opportunity to welcome VentureFest to the Tees Valley. Innovation is something this region is very good at and to bring hundreds of businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs together to network, share experiences and ideas and do business is vitally important.
“Being a part of VentureFest will strengthen the Tees Valley’s reputation as an innovative place to live, work, visit and invest, bringing with it lasting benefits to the economy.”
Laura Woods, Director of The Forge, Teesside University’s business hub, said: “Innovate Tees Valley, a major programme of expert support for local SMEs, underlines the importance of innovation for the area’s productivity and economic growth. VentureFest has been a great showcase of its success to date.
“Not only have we heard inspirational stories from companies who are already embracing new opportunities presented by Innovate Tees Valley, but we’ve also met many new businesses we can help to grow through innovation. It’s been a really exciting day.”
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