Venturefest Manchester packed out the Bridgewater Hall, as a music streaming service and a watermelon specialist scooped the innovation awards.
The fourth year of VentureFest saw 650 delegates through the door to hear from speakers Andy Burnham and Lasse Sørensen, and hear ten firms pitch for £20,000 worth of business support to drive their businesses.
Last year’s winner, Mike Anderson of Nothing But Epic, spoke of their Padoq product which aims to fill the gap between Facebook groups and Whatsapp, and he had some words of wisdom for those who were about to pitch, telling them to hold their nerve and do themselves justice.
Venturefest’s host, Prof. Vikas Shah, the CEO of Swiscot Group, set the tone for the event by encouraging collaboration, highlighting that, in his experience, three of the most important factors in success are building strong networks, learning from others’ experiences and harnessing the latest innovations, and applauding Venturefest’s ability to bring together entrepreneurs, professionals and investors.
In his welcome to delegates, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, highlighted Manchester as a city that has long been recognised for its innovation, historically playing host to exceptional minds such as Ernest Rutherford and Alan Turing.
Headline speaker Lasse Sørensen, senior business advisor at Vaeksthus Copenhagen, put the focus on creating an international presence, highlighting the importance of putting people rather than the idea first. Lasse also made a point of saying integrity was the key ingredient to sustained business success, along with passion and commitment.
And the Three Tribes panel discussed the benefits of using mentors in businesses, and the need to improve the balance of diversity in innovative businesses - especially those who have a focus on technology in their firms.
The innovation showcase competition was divided into two categories - Best Start-Up Business, and Best Growth Business – where founders pitched in front of this year’s audience in the hope of securing the prize of a business support package worth more than £20,000 (one in each category).
Dynamic, confident and well delivered pitches led to the Best Start-up category being won by technology firm Beatstream Media, while the Best Growth category was won by Mello, a business specialising in watermelon-based products.
Beatstream Media’s CEO Matt Walsh said: “We’re absolutely delighted. We’ve got the right foundations in place for the business already but the support package and the kudos that comes from winning at Venturefest Manchester ensures that the sky’s the limit for Beatstream.”
Mello’s co-founder Rose Aldean said: “We really excited and really happy. This will help put Mello on the map as a food and drink business. We’re also really proud to be a North West company, and the fact we can represent an innovative new category is great. It will also bring us more recognition for what we have achieved, and our innovation.”
Richard Jeffery, director of Business Growth Hub, part of the The Growth Company, said: “Now in its fourth year, Venturefest Manchester is going from strength to strength and the buzz around Bridgewater Hall has been incredible all day.
“Our Meet the Expert advice clinics, break-out sessions and expert panels have been of the highest quality, and the whole event has epitomised the creativity, innovation and ambition that define our region.
“Venturefest symbolises what the Business Growth Hub and The Growth Company is all about; bringing businesses together, sharing expertise and stimulating economic growth through innovation and collaboration.”
Venturefest Manchester 2017 was sponsored by Appleyard Lees, Avensure, Catax, Lombard, NatWest and Pomegranate Consulting, all of whom took part in the event’s Meet The Expert or Meet The Funder sessions.
Venturefest Manchester 2017 and the Innovation Showcase competition were both run by the Business Growth Hub, part of The Growth Company, and are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the GM Business Growth Hub’s innovation service, which is part of a portfolio of services designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester.
Businesses looking to access specialist support can visit http://www.businessgrowthhub.com/ for more information about the organisation’s extensive range of services.
The full innovation showcase shortlist: