Around a thousand people attended this year’s Venturefest North West 2018, providing further evidence of the region’s place as a leading centre for innovation.
The event, the biggest in five years, was held at Manchester Central and was organised by GC Business Growth Hub, part of The Growth Company.
Former Altrincham Grammar School pupil 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 innovate. The founder of CENTURY Tech went on to say that innovation is a mindset, and that in her opinion, businesses can fail because they aren’t committed to solving customer issues.
Priya’s speech was followed by a presentation by 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.
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.
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 – in front of this year’s audience, in the hope of securing 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 Innovation Showcase awards were won by the following:
Product Innovation – Reach and Rescue Ltd
Service Innovation – Urban Chain Ltd
Digital Innovation – Corporation Pop
Innovative Established Business – Whitham Mills Engineering Ltd
Reach and Rescue was declared the Overall Winner of the Innovation Showcase Competition, while Telcom won the Audience Award voted on by hundreds in attendance.
Jo Taylor, business owner at Reach and Rescue, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the overall award and the Product Innovation category. It shows how our company’s innovation can save lives, and I’d like to congratulate every individual person who has been involved in the product.”
Richard Jeffery, director of GC Business Growth Hub, added: “It’s fantastic to see record numbers of people coming to this year’s Venturefest.
“The atmosphere around Manchester Central today has been buzzing. In addition to the enlightening speeches, we’ve also witnessed some very impressive pitches as part of the Innovation Showcase, and I’m delighted for all the winners.
“Our advice clinics, breakout 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 North West symbolises what GC Business Growth Hub is all about; bringing businesses together, sharing expertise and stimulating economic growth through innovation and collaboration.”