This year, Venturefest Oxford is celebrating its 18th anniversary and I promised that it would be bigger and better than ever before and you know, we did it! It's been more than a success! Lynn Shepherd, Executive Chair, Venturefest Oxford
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Video courtesy of Oxford Digital MediaVenturefest Oxford 2016 on 29 June proved to be one of our most successful events ever. Our 18th anniversary milestone saw us move to a new venue at the King’s Centre in Osney Mead to offer more exhibition, innovation and networking space.
The King’s Centre, increasingly being referred to as ‘the hidden gem of Oxford’, was the perfect venue to illustrate how Venturefest has come full circle over the last two decades.
The King’s Centre was Oxford Instruments first factory and head office. The first commercial spin out from Oxford University in 1959, the company developed the superconducting magnet which led to the production of the human MRI.
It is where the first superconducting magnets for the human MRI were manufactured and despatched to the Siemens’ factories for shipping all over the world.
The founders of Oxford Instruments, Sir Martin and Audrey Wood, also founded The Oxford Trust, one of our key partners. A fitting place to showcase current innovations and celebrate entrepreneurship.
This year’s programme featured over 80 professional speakers, including
Bianca Miller (.uk Brand Ambassador, former Apprentice TV finalist & Serial Entrepreneur)
Will Kintish (Kintish Networking Skills)
David Willetts (former Minister for Universities and Science)
Lisa Thomas (Global Head of Brand and MD Virgin Enterprises Limited)
The programme also included over 20 dynamic, practical sessions on business skills, communications, digital, funding, innovation, funding and regulation. The wide variety of workshops included a vibrant lunchtime panel asking what is innovation for, and a closing panel debate on Brexit.
Lively banter at the lunchtime panel of experts
Did you collect a Fact and Action card after each session with summaries of the key points? If not, there is always next year.
The Facts and Action cards were a new feature of this year's programme
On display throughout the day was the latest MRI system by Siemens alongside the relatively new Adaptix portable x-ray machine.
Mark Evans and Gill Travish exhibiting their innovative Adaptix x-ray machine
Adaptix was also one of the winners of The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards, an initiative that was relaunched at a Gala Dinner on the eve of Venturefest. This year, in partnership with Venturefest, The Oxford Trust invited all previous Pitchfest and Pitching for Success winners to participate.
Welcoming delegates to the start of event with Lynn Shepherd was Peter Tufano, Dean of the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. In the wake of the Brexit outcome, he said:
Let's celebrate and enhance resilience and adaptability as entrepreneurs.
Welcome address: Dean of the Saïd Business School, Peter Tufano
This tied in well with the highly anticipated Brexit debate session. Speaking as part of a panel which included Dr Marco Malacarne from the European Commission, Lord Willetts, ex Minister of State for Universities and Science said:
There is a debate still to be had about whether or not we will be in the European Economic Area (EEA). One scenario is that we join and accept as part of that deal some kind of freedom of movement of people. The other option is not to be part of the EEA. The next British Government is going to have to decide on that. It is a very difficult decision and it has not been taken yet. There is a live debate and especially cities like Oxford which are optimistic places for the future can contribute to that debate
In the spirit of seeing the pivotal role of innovation in the future of the UK economy, we had a high-level display of Oxford’s finest innovations and pitches.
This year’s Pitching for Success winner was DryGro - developing a service that can grow plants in a desert using 99% less water than conventional agriculture. The funding stream proved another day of promising pitches and investor insights, organised by Oxford Innovation.
DryGro received a large cheque from our Executive Chair, Lynn Shepherd
The Innovation Showcase was made up of entrepreneurs working on inventions that ranged from computer coding for kids to space tech ventures.
Oxford Space Systems in the Innovation Showcase
The day was buzzing with networking as delegates made use of our new Get Connected system to meet new connections in the Gigaclear-sponsored networking zone.
The networking space sponsored by Gigaclear
And who could miss the filming and media activity interspersed with conversations and meetups, including a visit from That’s Oxfordshire TV, The Oxford Times , BBC South and others.