Visitors to Venturefest last week were treated to an exhilarating, informative and action-packed day.  It was celebrating its 20th anniversary at the newly opened buildings at Oxford Brookes University, an outstanding venue to showcase Oxfordshire’s innovative culture at its best.

Outgoing Chair, Lynn Shepherd, said “I couldn’t be more delighted at the success of the event this year. Venturefest has been at the heart of our county’s innovation and entrepreneurial community for so long that we have to make sure we keep innovating ourselves to maintain interest and support.  I think we achieved that this year in so many ways!”

Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes added “Venturefest was the first large-scale event we have hosted in the new buildings and I am extremely pleased at just how successful it was.  We were delighted to have the opportunity to showcase the innovative work that is being done here and are very proud of our strong partnerships with business and industry.”

Students and staff from Brookes were on hand to show off that innovative work which included Artie the robot, The Formula Car, the Simbulance and the Geriatric Suit. Delegates were also able to look at the Cargo Pod, a driverless delivery vehicle supplied by RACE at Culham, a Prodrive Championship Car, and the work of ten new businesses from Harwell.

The theme this year was a very focused one, looking at just four sectors in more detail than previous years.  Every session was full as people clamored to learn about the technologies and applications of quantum computers, space satellites, autonomous vehicles and digital health. The closing panel debate looked at the challenges and opportunities of these sectors, lending a dose of reality and business sense to the heightened excitement of the day.

As usual, the delegates were there to network and meet like-minded people.  Throughout the day, the long-running Pitching for Success competition took place where twenty new businesses pitched their ideas to a panel of local investors.  The overall winner was One-Cup – a young business set up just a few months ago by Oxford Brookes graduate, Harrison Hall.  Organiser, Eileen Modral, Investment Manager at OION Ltd, said that “Harrison showed all the attributes of a successful entrepreneur particularly in his articulate and engaging pitch to the audience and I am sure he has a bright future ahead of him.”

Lynn Shepherd and Alistair Fitt also hosted a large delegation of high-ranking officials from Nanjing in China where a new science and technology park has been created.  The Chinese party were keen to learn how Venturefest supports science and innovation and extended an invitation to bring Venturefest to Nanjing next year.  70 students from the Marlborough School were also keen to learn about the exciting ideas and innovation in Oxfordshire and left feeling very motivated and enthusiastic to see what they could achieve themselves.

The event closed with the awards ceremony of the Enterprise Awards, hosted by The Oxford Trust.  The Awards recognise innovation and entrepreneurism at its best, as indeed does Venturefest.