Bamboo Bikes rides into festival of business

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VENTUREFEST Yorkshire returns next year and a young social enterprise that has brought the bamboo bike to the UK is the first to secure a place.

Todmorden-based Bamboo Bikes makes bamboo mountain bike frames at a manufacturing operation in Scarborough. It launched at the end of September and is led by 30-year-old managing director, Rachel Hammond, a keen cyclist who previously worked for green building and recycling companies.

Bamboo Bikes has been selected to take part in next year’s one-day Venturefest Yorkshire expo where it will be one of 36 science, technology and IP creating entrepreneurs participating in the Innovation Showcase.

The selected companies will receive an exhibition stand worth £500 for a subsidised fee of £100, giving them significant exposure to more than 2,000 delegates who will be looking for advice, contacts and investment opportunities at Venturefest on February 8, 2012 at York Racecourse.

In addition to Venturefest’s Innovation Showcase, it also holds an investment competition, in which a minimum of six pre-selected participants from science, technology or innovative businesses will pitch to not only seek investment but also win a support prize worth in the region of £30,000.

Tony Hardy, chairman of the board that runs Venturefest, said: “What makes us stand out from the rest is that it’s not just a business to business venture. It’s all about promoting innovative, high-value companies. It’s aimed at science and technology and IP generating businesses.”

Miss Hammond said: “I first saw the bamboo bike concept when I was at an exhibition in London, and knew that it would be a great product to make available in the UK. Bamboo is lighter than traditional steel frames, yet has a higher tensile strength. It is also extremely absorbent of vibrations, which makes for a supremely smooth ride.”

Miss Hammond added: “We are really excited about being part of Venturefest and hope that the exposure will help us build more connections that will support us and help us grow.”

Venturefest also features a breakfast networking event with other networking sessions, a range of seminars and debate, a dinner and awards ceremony and a large exhibition where delegates can network with suppliers and select new partners for future advice and make procurement decisions.

Mr Hardy said: “We are trying to encourage entrepreneurial businesses to gain access to funding and the professional services they really need to fulfil their potential.”

This year marks the ninth year of Venturefest Yorkshire – and last year was the first without public funding. Mr Hardy said: “Obviously with the demise of Yorkshire Forward, that had an influence on us. It took a large chunk of funding away from us, together with Business Link. We lost something like £85,000 last year out of our budget.” Billionaire and former government minister Lord Sainsbury contributes about £50,000 to Venturefest. However, Mr Hardy said the funding from Lord Sainsbury’s office will “run out in a year’s time”, adding: “Then we will be driven entirely by sponsorship.”

Mr Hardy added: “It’s challenging at the moment because the economic climate is so difficult. But that doesn’t take away from the value of the exercise. In some ways it makes it even more important.”

Visit for more information. Venturefest Yorkshire is a not for profit limited company wholly owned by York Professionals.

Join your peers

Venturefest Yorkshire organisers have launched a new peer to peer club to support the region’s science and technology entrepreneurs.

The Venturefest Yorkshire Entrepreneurs’ Club will host its first meeting on November 15 at the Science Park in York, as part of York Business Week. Meetings will follow in Yorkshire locations such as Halifax, Sheffield and Hull. The group is small to allow open discussion. Registrations will be limited to a maximum of 15 entrepreneurs and up to five professionals. Venturefest aims to extends its reach from the traditional one-day format to become more of an ongoing participation channel.