Brightest and best head to Venturefest Yorkshire

AROUND 1,000 people attended a major corporate event which encourages the brightest and best entrepreneurs to establish a business in Yorkshire.

Michael Smith of New Moon Games wears his VR headset at Venturefest 2016, held at York Racecourse. Picture: Anthony Chappel-Ross

Venturefest Yorkshire 2016 helped inventors to turn their business dreams into reality.

The event, which was held at York Racecourse, enabled investors to form connections with entrepreneurs who are seeking advice and funding.

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Steve Brown, the managing director of Make It York, the organisation that encourages investment in York and its surroundings, said Venturefest was helping to encourage investment and collaboration.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “There is a real buzz about the place. The feedback has been really good. Investors are talking to business people with great ideas.

“Some of the businesses are quite well formed and some are at a very early stage.

“It’s hard not to feel optimistic when you see 1,000 people talking about possible opportunities,’’ he added. “It’s really important for York. York is a fantastic place to do business and a very creative place.”

This year’s event included a line-up of business speakers, workshops, seminars and exhibitions.

The keynote speakers included Kate Russell, the author and technology reporter for BBC Click.

Ms Russell has been writing about technology and the internet since 1995, and in June this year she was voted the 13th most influential woman in UK IT by Computer Weekly.

Her speech took the audience on a whistle-stop tour of the last 10 years in the technology sector, and she also looked ahead to the next decade.

Ms Russell highlighted the importance of crowd-funding in the technology sector and the growing problems caused by failures in cyber security.

She predicted that cyber security will be a good career option in the years ahead.

Ms Russell said she wanted the UK to be a technology powerhouse, and events like Venturefest were great for networking and finding ways for technology firms to work together.

Altogether, the day featured eight keynote speakers and more than 70 exhibitors.

It also featured “Pitchfest” in which five finalists competed for a £5,000 cash prize and a package of business growth support.

Attendees at Venturefest also enjoyed free sessions with financial and skills advisers, master-classes led by Google and Sky and the Department for International Trade’s touring export hub.

The export hub provided advice and practical guidance for all businesses on how they can find customers overseas for their products and services.

Venturefest Yorkshire was set up to support innovators who want to turn their ideas into businesses.

Venturefest has been held at York Racecourse every year since 2004. It initially attracted sponsorship from the regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward, which was scrapped as part of the coalition Government’s spending cuts.

However, it survived after attracting private sector sponsors. Over the last 12 years, it has welcomed more than 14,000 visitors.

Venturefest has helped a number of companies in the technology, IT and digital sectors to gain advice and funding which has created jobs.

Venturefest is now part of KTN (Knowledge Transfer Network) which is funded by Innovate UK. Innovate UK is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

Make it York took responsibility for Venturefest in January 2016, and the organisation plans to increase the scale and influence of the event.