The annual autumn conference has grown to 700 people this year and its next gathering, on 8 Novermber at St James’ Park, will see the introduction of Innovation Challenge North East- a project focussed on helping businesses explore how to turn real-world challenges into commercial opportunities.
Delegates with be able to meet face-to-face with some of the large corporates in the area, such as Northumbrian Water and ENGIE, to hear about challenges facing their businesses and discuss whether they have the technology, services and talent to provide solutions.
Northumbrian Water will discuss the opportunity for businesses to help map its vast sewage network and how solutions could include technology able to determine the level of sewers, devices that offer streaming of data and even approaches based on citizen science or gamification.
Chris Jones, research and development manager at Northumbrian Water: "Large organisations like ours face complex operational challenges and while we know there will be businesses in the region with the skills and expertise to provide solutions the issue has always been in reaching out to them.
"VentureFest provides us with an exciting opportunity to access a wide network of talent and find solutions faster. We will be on hand to meet delegates face-to-face and discuss how they might be able to turn our challenges into commercial opportunities for their businesses and I'm looking forward to a day of exploring innovation in the North East."
Businesses attending will also get the opportunity to see how an innovation sandpit works as a process to generate fresh ideas and stimulate creative thinking, with Northumbria University students coming up with solutions to tackle a big issue over the course of the day.
Other new developments include the inclusion of FinanceCamp at VentureFest for the first time. FinanceCamp is a programme that prepares businesses for investment and then brings them together with potential investors and lenders in a succession of quick meetings.
The North East LEP is also bringing its North East Growth Hub to the event to help answer questions of businesses relating to their growth. Usually a digital resource, Growth Hub Live will bring the information, knowledge, advice and support of the region's business community to VentureFest so experts can discuss issues in person.
Estelle Blanks, deputy director of Innovation SuperNetwork which delivers VentureFest North East, said: "The purpose of VentureFest North East is to provide a unique day in the business calendar that is dedicated to bringing people together to explore new opportunities and overcome challenges standing in the way of their business growth.
"We are dedicated to constantly evolving the event, working closely with the region's business community to ensure it reflects the needs of our delegates and highlights the latest innovation trends. This year's programme is packed with content to inspire and inform businesses of all sizes and sectors and we look forward to opening the doors in November to our largest gathering of innovators to date."
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