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Region’s firms under starter’s orders for new innovation event, Venturefest East

PUBLISHED: 06:00 19 January 2016 | UPDATED: 09:49 19 January 2016

Members of the team behind Venturefest East, from left, Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP, Dr Soraya Jones, board member of the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and entrepreneur in residence at St John’s Innovation Centre, and Laura Welham-Halstead, head of communications and connectivity at Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership.

Members of the team behind Venturefest East, from left, Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP, Dr Soraya Jones, board member of the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and entrepreneur in residence at St John’s Innovation Centre, and Laura Welham-Halstead, head of communications and connectivity at Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership.

Kevin Coleman

A new event for innovation organisations across Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgshire is to be held at the Rowley Mile Racecourse in Newmarket on May 24.

Venturefest East is being staged jointly by the Cambridge-based St John’s Innovation Centre and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough and New Anglia local enterprise partnerships.

It will form part of the Innovate UK series of events and provide opportunities to hear from some of the region’s leading innovation gurus, alongside inspirational workshops and networking opportunities.

Dr Soraya Jones, board member of the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and entrepreneur in residence at St John’s Innovation Centre, said: “It’s great to see the local innovation eco-systems and clusters working together to showcase new, promising enterprises from the region.”

David Gill, managing director at the St John’s Innovation Centre, who will be chairing the opening keynote session, added: “We are looking forward to seeing the crème de la crème of companies parading at the Innovation Showcase. Venturefest East is also a unique opportunity to distil the knowledge and expertise from winning entrepreneurs and business insiders, which is valuable input to other innovative companies that we support.”

Neil Darwin, chief executive of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, said: “Our area defines the future, with the technology of the future being developed right here and now in the East.

“Venturefest East will help to connect our innovators and entrepreneurs with the investors and support networks they need to bring their ideas to life, and then onwards to production and sale on the general market.

“This is why we have been involved in the creation of this new event, from the original bid through to sponsoring the event itself. The day will showcase some of the best innovations from across our area, and I look forward to supporting these innovative local businesses at Venturefest East.”

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP, added: “The East is fast becoming a magnet for those seeking to test innovative ideas and technologies in key sectors that will drive our future productivity, such as food and health research, digital creative and energy.

“Venturefest East builds on iExpo, New Anglia’s pioneering innovation events held in Norfolk and Suffolk, and will bring investors, entrepreneurs and innovators together to spark even more ideas and forge new collaborations across Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and beyond.”

Speakers at the event will include: Hermann Hauser, co-founder of investment company Amadeus Capital Partners and serial entrepreneur/investor; David Cleevely, international telecoms expert who founded and exited many successful companies, including Analsys Mason and Abcam; and Charles Cotton, the builder of global high-tech companies and author of works including “Cambridge, the Global Phenomenon: 50 years of Innovation and Enterprise”.

Venturefest East has secured a grant from Innovate UK and KTN to support the development of this new addition to the national Venturefest Network and is working closely with regional stakeholders.

Helen Lewis, director of the research and enterprise division at the University of East Anglia, lead sponsor of the event, said: “The University of East Anglia is delighted to sponsor the inaugural Venturefest East.

“It is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs, innovators and investors to come together to develop and grow their businesses. The Venturefest events have been hugely successful around the country and we are very pleased to be part of the team bringing the event to our region.”

Tickets for Venturefest East are free to businesses within the regional innovation cluster. For further details, visit www.venturefesteast.co.uk .

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