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INNOVATION EXCELLENCE - Chris Allington at Venturefest South 2017 at Winchester Guildhall

Oxford Innovation in driving seat with first-ever Venturefest South

We’ll be back.

Oxford Innovation has signalled a second Venturefest South for 2018 following the overwhelming success of the inaugural one.

There were 530 attendees for the interactive one-day event at Winchester Guildhall, Winchester, which showcased the South as a regional powerhouse for innovation.

Innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers and investors were among the visitors, with 900 people registered.

THANK-YOU Venturefest South 2017 at Winchester Guildhall - partners

THANK-YOU: Founders and partners at Venturefest South on the steps of Winchester Guildhall.

In the packed venue, people listened and talked with speakers and exhibitors, participated in workshops in break-out rooms and watched valuable pitching sessions.

A total of 18 start-ups took part in the open pitching sessions, detailing why investors in the audience should back their commercial ideas with a combined value of £20 million.

EXHIBITORS - Venturefest South 2017 at Winchester Guildhall

EXHIBITORS: Some of the high-tech companies showcasing technology at Venturefest South at Winchester Guildhall.

Venturefest South chairman Chris Allington, Managing Director of Oxford Innovation, said afterwards: “No doubt about it – there will be a second Venturefest South in 2018.

“Today’s event was an overwhelming success, far exceeding what were already high expectations. We had originally planned for 250 for the pilot, but there were 530 people coming through the doors on the day.

“The energy in the venue was amazing, with so many ideas being discussed and advice being given by entrepreneurs who have already done the hard miles.”

INNOVATION EXCELLENCE - Chris Allington at Venturefest South 2017 at Winchester Guildhall

INNOVATION EXCELLENCE: Chris Allington, the chairman of Venturefest South and managing director of Oxford Innovation, addresses hundreds of visitors at the packed Winchester Guildhall event.

Oxford Innovation runs 21 innovation centres occupied by more than 1,000 start-ups and small-to-medium businesses.

They include three centres in Hampshire – Ocean Village Innovation Centre, Portsmouth Technopole and Fareham Innovation Centre.

Mr Allington paid public tribute to Richard May, Oxford Innovation’s Incubation Director in the South, for his master of ceremonies role, including memorably honking a hooter to let investors know a funding pitch was about to take place.

Business South was also praised by Mr Allington for putting on the “outstanding event”.

PODCAST! Meetng room at Venturefest South 2017 at Winchester Guildhall

PODCAST! From left, Oxford Innovation’s Rob Greenberg, Stephen Brownlie, Pete Turner of wireless charging technology start-up SupaPowa, and Richard May. They gathered at a funky meeting pod, called The Hive, where deals were done. Richard’s hooter was a familiar sound at the all-day event at Winchester Guildhall, rallying investors to funding pitches by start-ups.

As well as generating mainstream media interest, VentureFest South trended on social media. More than 400 tweets reached tens of thousands of people as businesses and organisations shared updates, including with Number 10 Downing Street.

Mr Allington added: “Venturefest South very much reflected why the UK is in the top three places in the world for innovation, with so many superb ideas ready to spring into commercial reality or be scaled up.

“This inspirational event also encapsulated our nation’s animal spirits regarding commerce, indicated by the fact that there were 608,000 registered start-ups last year.”

One of the guest speakers was Fred Jones of technology giant Uber – he spoke of how car pooling is the answer to traffic pollution in our cities, that cars are empty and idle 95% of the time, that there are eight empty car parking spaces for every one car in the USA.

UBER - Fred Jones of Uber at VenturefestSouth 2017 at Winchester Guildhall

Raising equity was one of the event themes. For example, the London Stock Exchange gave a 20-minute presentation on how to go down this route.

Venturefest South was developed by a group of founding partners within the regional innovation economy. Each contributed £5,000, management time and expertise.

They were Oxford Innovation, Carswell Gould, Enterprise M3 LEP, Innovate UK, the Knowledge Transfer Network, Solent LEP, Southampton Solent University, the University of Portsmouth and the University of Southampton.

The event took place on Thursday, March 9th.