Hundreds of businesses, entrepreneurs, investors and experts will descend on St James' Park, Newcastle next week for what promises to be the busiest VentureFest North East yet.
The fifth annual innovation conference takes place on Tuesday November 14 and organisers say it is set to be the broadest-ranging event so far, thanks to some new features.
The conference is dedicated to helping North East businesses use innovation to remain relevant, competitive and profitable by providing practical tools and valuable connections.
Highlights include a series of 'live' innovation challenge sessions which give businesses the chance to win work from organisations who are seeking input into real projects.
A new people's choice theme looking at dealing with change will provide a horizon scan of global innovation trends, including digital disruption, and will provide practical tools to help start-ups and growing companies develop a successful business model.
Estelle Blanks, deputy director of VentureFest North East delivery organisation the Innovation SuperNetwork, said: "We've worked closely with the business community to evolve this year's programme to ensure it reflects the key issues and opportunities facing the region's businesses right now.
"The aim is to provide them with an innovation toolkit of practical information, valuable ideas and useful contacts to help them reach new customers, raise finance and overcome barriers to growth."
Tried and tested programme features back by popular demand include Innovation Showcase, a show-and-tell by some of the region's most innovative businesses, a drop-in business clinic Growth Hub Live, and ‘Why My Business Failed and What it Taught Me’, an open discussion with entrepreneurs who share their experiences to help others.
Keynote speakers include: Paul Smith of revolutionary transport system Hyperloop One, Phil Kite, former Chief Executive of Reece Group who is preparing to take part in the world's toughest rowing race onboard a vessel featuring innovative North East products and services, Joanna Feeley of Newcastle-based trend agency Trend Bible, Simon Thorpe, an angel investor, coach, mentor and owner of Delta 2020 and Sarah Stewart, Chief Executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI).