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Venturefest WM to shine spotlight on region’s rising innovators and entrepreneurs

Venturefest§ Small business owners urged to sign up to free event promoting region’s innovation

§ Technology tycoon Sir Peter Rigby and Innovate UK’s new Chief Executive, Dr Ruth McKernan, among guest speakers at inaugural exhibition

Venturefest WM (West Midlands) – a new event and exhibition giving entrepreneurs and innovators the opportunity to meet, engage and discuss products with a national audience of investors – launches for the first time in the region this summer.

The free, interactive, day-long event takes place on Tuesday 30th June at Birmingham’s NEC. A programme of in-depth workshops, seminars and lectures will provide small business owners and start-up companies from the area with practical advice, ideas, contacts and funding options. Entrepreneurs from all business sectors – including science, technology and the creative industries – are encouraged to register.

Delegates will also be invited to take part in a competition to pitch for investment. Organised by Aston University, the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick, the pitching competition Pitchfest will encourage early stage businesses and start-ups to present to key investors, gain pitching advice from industry leaders and raise the profile of their company.

Pam Waddell, Director of Birmingham Science City, which is organising the event, said:

“Venturefest WM is part of a national network of Venturefests backed by Innovate UK. In setting up an exciting and varied day of learning and networking for regional innovators and entrepreneurs, we have both learned from previous Venturefest events and geared the day to the opportunities and needs in the West Midlands. Delegates should take away a host of new contacts with potential collaborators, customers, investors and support organisations as well as lots of new advice and ideas.”

Guest speakers include Sir Peter Rigby, Chairman and Chief Executive of the family-owned portfolio business The Rigby Group plc. Sir Peter started The Rigby Group in 1975 with £2,000 – today the group turns over £1.8billion. One of the region’s most successful entrepreneurs, he will share insights and secrets of success drawn from his 40 years’ experience of setting up from scratch, growing organically and acquiring over 70 businesses in building the group as it is today.

Dr Ruth McKernan will also be speaking at the event. Ruth was recently named Chief Executive of the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK, which aims to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. An award-winning science writer and author with 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry, Ruth was awarded a CBE in 2013 for services to Business Innovation and Skills. She will share her vision for UK innovation and new plans for Innovate UK under her leadership.

Birmingham is the most entrepreneurial UK city outside London, according to data published in January by the national campaign StartUp Britain. Data from Companies House revealed that 18,337 new businesses were registered in Birmingham during 2014 – an increase of over 2,000 on the previous year, and more than any other city outside the capital.

Venturefest is supported by Business Birmingham, the city’s inward investment agency.

Wouter Schuitemaker, Investment Director of Business Birmingham, added:

“It is an exciting time to be a start-up business in Birmingham. A wealth of smart, innovative enterprises are setting up here and developing great ideas, creating a vibrant ecosystem of companies to drive the region’s economic growth.

“While the area offers firms an excellent environment in which to grow, events such as Venturefest are also crucial to their development. They provide valuable exposure to prospective funders and suppliers, as well as the opportunity to meet people with similar business interests.”

Venturefest WM is part of a national initiative aiming to drive the development of new business opportunities for economic growth and support of the innovation ecosystem. It is supported by Innovate UK, KNT and locally by businesses, universities, science parks and business support organisations.

To register for Venturefest WM, view the event programme and find out about sponsorship opportunities, log on to the exhibition website www.venturefestwm.co.uk.