First speakers announced for Venturefest Tees Valley

L-R Jane Turner, Andrew Owens, Ben Houchen, Matthew Burke

First speakers announced for Venturefest Tees Valley

Businesses in the Tees Valley will hear from a pioneering engineer, a celebrated cardiac surgeon and a lineup of other experts as they discuss how businesses can benefit from ideas generated in some surprising places at this year’s Venturefest Tees Valley.

First speakers announced for Venturefest Tees Valley

Businesses in the Tees Valley will hear from a pioneering engineer, a celebrated cardiac surgeon, and a lineup of other experts as they discuss how businesses can benefit from ideas generated in surprising places at this year’s Venturefest Tees Valley.

Organisers of the innovation conference have announced the first of their speakers for the event on September 13, which will take place at Wynyard Hall.

In true VentureFest spirit, the headliners will share their own experiences of coming up with innovative ideas with the help of other business. One of the first experts to be confirmed for the autumn event is Matthew Burke of Williams Advanced Engineering.

The Advanced Engineering team have used the lightweight technologies employed in Formula 1 to design and develop a light weight incubator for use in the transport of critically ill babies. In his role as Head of Technology Ventures, Matthew Burke also plays a key role in supporting new, disruptive tech businesses through from the critical start-up phase to full commercialisation.  

Burke will be joined by Professor Andrew Owens from South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Professor Owens is a consultant cardiac surgeon and director of education, research and innovation. He uses insight from the frontline of the operating theatre to develop medical devices for patients and healthcare professionals. 


A solicitor by profession and a businessman in his own right as former CEO of sport clothing company BLK in Stockton, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen will draw his own business experiences when he talks about how important innovation is to the local economy.

Speaking ahead of the event he said: "I know the importance of innovation from my own business experience, and I'm really looking forward to discussing this with delegates in my role as event speaker and Tees Valley Mayor. 

"Innovation is critical to the economic success of the area and by bringing together world-class expertise and wide-ranging experiences at VentureFest Tees Valley we are creating a fertile ground for the creation of endless new ideas and collaborations."

Professor Jane Turner, pro vice-chancellor for enterprise and business engagement at Teesside University, will open the event by talking about encouraging collaboration and knowledge exchange to nurture Tees Valley's spirit of innovation.

Venturefest Tees Valley aims to attract 400 businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators from across the area to share ideas, explore opportunities, grow new networks and raise investment.

The event's founding partners are Innovate Tees Valley, Tees Valley Combined Authority and the Knowledge Transfer Network. It receives funding from the £6.5m Innovate Tees Valley programme, led by Teesside University with partners NEPIC, the Materials Processing Institute and Digital City, and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Venturefest Tees Valley is free for local businesses to attend and registration is open now at venturefest.tv