Over 650 people from across the UK attended this year’s Venturefest Manchester 2017, providing further evidence of the North West’s place as an emerging force in the global economy.
The event, now in its fourth year, was held at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall earlier today (Thursday 14 September) and was organised by Business Growth Hub, part of The Growth Company.
Greater Manchester’s influence on the world was also reaffirmed by the day’s speakers. In his welcome to delegates, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, highlighted Manchester as a city that has long been recognised as an innovative city, historically playing host to exceptional minds such as Ernest Rutherford and Alan Turing, as well as Geim and Novoselev, who isolated graphene and are now transforming 2D materials technology, while also calling for stronger links between the region’s businesses and universities.
Furthermore, Mr Burnham also praised the strength of the business support infrastructure in Greater Manchester provided by the Business Growth Hub and its partners.
Headline speaker Lasse Sørensen, Senior Business Advisor at Vaeksthus Copenhagen, who has extensive experience with business start-ups and in the financial sector, also put the focus on creating an international presence, highlighting the importance of putting people rather than the idea first, and that it was crucial for any start-up to clearly understand its purpose, its customers and its market from a global perspective. Lasse also made a point of saying integrity was the key ingredient to sustained business success, along with passion and commitment.
Finally, Venturefest’s host, Prof. Vikas Shah, the CEO of Swiscot Group, set the tone for the event by encouraging collaboration, highlighting that, in his experience, three of the most important factors in success are building strong networks, learning from others’ experiences and harnessing the latest innovations, and applauding Venturefest’s ability to bring together entrepreneurs, professionals and investors.
Other speakers who appeared at the event include Keith Morgan, Chief Executive of the British Business Bank, and Pippa Hall, Director of Innovation and Chief Economist at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
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. Prior to this year’s competition, Prof. Shah conducted an interview with Mike Anderson, Co-Founder of Nothing But Epic, who outlined the numerous successes, including international expansion, the company has had since winning the 2016 Innovation Showcase competition.
One of the highlights of the day saw ten companies pitted against each other in two categories – Best Start-Up Business, and Best Growth Business – in front of this year’s audience in the hope of securing the prize of a business support package worth more than £20,000 (one in each category).
Following impressive and informative pitches that demonstrated the outstanding level of variety and innovation at the heart of the region’s business landscape, the Best Start-up category was won by Beatstream Media while the Best Growth category was won by Mello (see notes to editors for details of all finalists).
Richard Jeffery, Director of Business Growth Hub, part of the The Growth Company,
said: “Now in its fourth year, Venturefest Manchester is going from strength to strength and the buzz around Bridgewater Hall has been incredible all day.
“In addition to the fantastic speeches and presentations, we’ve also witnessed some impressive pitches from all of our Innovation Showcase finalists, and I’m delighted for our winners Mello and Beatstream who had some very tough competition today.
Our Meet the Expert advice clinics, break-out sessions and expert panels have also been of the highest quality, and the whole event has epitomised the creativity, innovation and ambition that define our region.
“Venturefest symbolises what the Business Growth Hub and The Growth Company is all about; bringing businesses together, sharing expertise and stimulating economic growth through innovation and collaboration.”
Venturefest’s host, Professor Vikas Shah, said: “Today has brought hundreds of company owners, professional consultants, lawyers, finance experts, investors and policy makers together under one roof to celebrate enterprise, support growing business and inspire Manchester’s next generation of entrepreneurs.
“It has been a pleasure to be part of today’s event, and I have been incredibly impressed by the enthusiasm of the delegates, the calibre of the Innovation Showcase finalists, the expertise of all the panellists and advisors, and the overall passion for business which the event has generated.”
Beatstream Media’s CEO Matt Walsh said: “We’re absolutely delighted. We’ve got the right foundations in place for the business already but the support package and the kudos that comes from winning at Venturefest Manchester ensures that the sky’s the limit for Beatstream.”
Mello’s co-founder Rose Aldean said: “We really excited and really happy. This will help put Mello on the map as a food and drink business. We’re also really proud to be a North West company, and the fact we can represent an innovative new category is great. It will also bring us more recognition for what we have achieved, and our innovation.”
Venturefest Manchester 2017 was sponsored by Appleyard Lees, Avensure, Catax, Lombard, NatWest and Pomegranate Consulting, all of whom took part in the event’s Meet The Expert or Meet The Funder sessions.
Venturefest Manchester 2017 and the Innovation Showcase competition were both run by the Business Growth Hub, part of The Growth Company, and are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the GM Business Growth Hub’s innovation service, which is part of a portfolio of services designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester.
Businesses looking to access specialist support can visit http://www.businessgrowthhub.
For more information on Venturefest Manchester 2017 and the Innovation Showcase competition, please visitwww.venturefestmanchester.com.