#VFS21: FESTIVAL OF INNOVATION ATTRACTS RECORD-BREAKING REGISTRATIONS TO BOOST THE SOUTH’S ECONOMY
- Business leaders, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs make new connections at Venturefest South’s fifth annual innovation showcase
- Over £1billion of opportunities on offer from VFS partners through support, funding and investment
- Highlights included Navigating Net Zero summit; Innovation Talks and VFS21 Awards
More than a thousand of the South’s business leaders, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs connected at the inspirational #VFS21 Festival of Innovation yesterday (Thursday 21 October) at The Ageas Bowl, Southampton, and online.
Venturefest South’s fifth annual innovation showcase was record-breaking with more delegates than ever before attending to discover how to access over £1billion of opportunities on offer from VFS partners through support, funding and investment.
Maritime UK Solent hosted the cutting-edge Navigating Net Zero summit at #VFS21, aimed at exploring global concerns and designing a new route to Net-Zero. Participants were given the opportunity to find out more about what Solent businesses are doing to reduce carbon emissions to make a positive difference in the climate challenge.
Sarah Duckering from the University of Portsmouth and founding partner added:
“On behalf of all my fellow VFS partners, I would like to thank the innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and event team for making this such a huge success. Venturefest South drives economic growth by highlighting business opportunities, connecting people and inspiring thinking. This year we excelled as the event attracted a record number of attendees, more sponsors, more investment opportunities and more excitement.”
Stuart Baker, Managing Director of Maritime UK Solent, said:
“This summit was exciting, productive and very well-timed, coming just ahead of the COP26 global climate change conference and in the same week as the Government announced its Net Zero Strategy. We discovered a real desire among those who participated to work together at both regional and national levels to inspire positive climate change action and work towards a Net Zero future. We hope the Navigating Net Zero summit hosted by Maritime UK Solent, and the launch of the Solent LEP’s framework for a ‘Ten Point Plan to Build Back Greener in the Solent’ at Venturefest, will both act as catalysts for real progress in the region.”
Headline partner Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) took the platform at #VFS21 to share details of an impressive extra £1billion for UK science and technology research over the next four years.
Matt Chinn, Head of Platform Services Division at Dstl, said: “Dstl is accelerating efforts to modernise the armed forces, develop world-leading capabilities, and to keep the UK safe from evolving threats. We love nothing more than seeing small innovative organisations deliver a big impact for UK defence and security and have made some brilliant connections at Venturefest.”
Visitors were also drawn to another headline partner, BAE Systems’ Innovation Labs where they were invited to explore partnering and funding opportunities.
The University of Southampton had funded support on offer for collaborative research and development, and for delivering innovative projects for local businesses; while the University of Portsmouth gave delegates access to its new initiatives, including the Creative and Immersive Extended Reality Centre and the Centre for Enzyme Innovation. Both universities are VFS partners.
Other highlights included business support for start-ups from partner Portsmouth City Council’s Economic Growth team, with advice on grants and loans and access to mentoring, learning and development initiatives.
Funding and Research and Development gurus Catax, also a sponsor, were on hand to give companies the right support to access an estimated £16bn in tax credits owed to businesses in the South.
There was plenty of additional funding support and guidance at the event from other #VFS21 partners, including: Southampton City Council, Solent University, Fareham College, Basingstoke Get Launched; Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, Carswell Gould, KTN, European Regional Development Fund and Hampshire Conference Bureau.
Delegates also found helpful advice from the other sponsors – Hampshire Chamber of Commerce; Greentech South; British Business Bank, Azets UK; Enterprise Business South, Business Innovation South, Business South; The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), Ploughshare, NatWest, Creative Network South and Southpoint Films.
#VFS21 Exhibitors on show were:
ESA Business Applications, GetSet Solent, Optima Projects Ltd, Royal Academy of Engineering; Murgitroyd, Oxford Computer Consultants, Idea Reality, Barclays Eagle Lab, The FSE Group, Starling Bank, Coffin Mew, Geovation and Maucher Jenkins.
Innovation Talks at the annual showcase featured a range of business speakers who provided a unique insight into driving innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability and business growth.
The #VFS21 Awards proved as popular as ever with contenders competing from across the region.
1. Maverick Aviation
2. Oxto Energy & Renovos
1. Acoustic Black Holes
3. Other Skies
3. IoT Solutions
3. Mitch Wisniewski from Other Skies
“The VFS awards were a really brilliant way to end the day and we were delighted to acknowledge some really credible winners,” said judge Tim Croft, national head of R&D at Azets, who sponsored the awards.