Festival of innovation attracts record-breaking numbers as business leaders work to boost the south's economy

MORE than 1,000 of the south’s business leaders, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs connected at a festival of innovation.

Sunday, 7th November 2021, 9:05 am
#VFS21 partners welcome the crowds to the Festival of Innovation at The Ageas Bowl, from left: Carswell Gould Creative Director Ed Gould, Head Of Innovation at BAE Systems Maritime Services & BAE Systems Engineering Fellow Nick Young, Head of Platform Systems Division, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) Matt Chinn and Director of Research and Innovation Services at University of Portsmouth Sarah Duckering.

Venturefest South’s inspirational #VFS21 Festival of Innovation returned for its fifth year to The Ageas Bowl with record-breaking attendees last week.

Delegates were able to discover how to access over £1bn of opportunities on offer from VFS partners through support, funding and investment.

Ed Gould, creative director at Carswell Gould and #VFS21partners, said: ‘It was a fantastic comeback after last year’s pandemic hit us so hard.

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‘We saw a record number of registrations and presented a stunning display of business creativity.

‘It was a clear reminder that this region offers people the ability to turn good ideas into great business. There was real positive energy at the event as everybody committed to making new things happen for themselves, each other and the region’s economy.’

Among the many events taking place on the day, Maritime UK Solent hosted the Navigating Net Zero summit at #VFS21, aimed at exploring global concerns and designing a new route to Net Zero.

Stuart Baker, managing director of Maritime UK Solent, said: ‘This summit was exciting, productive and very well timed.

‘We discovered a real desire among those who participated to work together at both regional and national level to inspire positive climate change action.’

Headline partner Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) shared details of an impressive extra £1bn for UK science and technology research over the next four years.

Visitors were also drawn to another headline partner, BAE Systems’ Innovation Labs where they were invited to explore partnering and funding opportunities.

The University of Southampton had funded support on offer for collaborative research and development, while the University of Portsmouth gave delegates access to its new initiatives, including the Creative and Immersive Extended Reality Centre and the Centre for Enzyme Innovation.

Other highlights included business support for start-ups from Portsmouth City Council.

Innovation Talks featured a range of business speakers and the open mic pitching competition proved popular, with Human Beauty’s Millie Flemington-Clare winning Open Mic Pitching Champion 2021.

Sarah Duckering, from the University of Portsmouth, added: ‘Venturefest South drives economic growth by highlighting business opportunities, connecting people and inspiring thinking. This year we excelled as the event attracted a record number of attendees, more sponsors, more investment opportunities and more excitement.’