Record breakers and decision makers lead Venturefest Wales

Venturefest Wales 2016, which took place on Wednesday, attracted nearly 1,300 entrepreneurs, investors and innovators to Cardiff’s SWALEC stadium.

The annual event brought together a record number of investors, academics, innovators and businesses to create meaningful partnerships to aid the Welsh tech sector’s growth.

It couldn’t be clearer that innovation in Wales is thriving, although the event demonstrated that it needs to be harnessed and commercialised to drive the sector forward.

Following comprehensive research into the needs of business people in Wales, the event focused on areas such as technology, recruitment, planning, marketing and business development.

Richard Noble OBE, a renowned entrepreneur who held the land speed record for 14 years between 1983 and 1997 with Thrust2 and Thrust SSC, was among the speakers.

Specialising in high-risk ventures, Noble spoke about how projects like the Bloodhound SSC inspire a new generation of thinkers and leaders to innovate and set up businesses.

He spoke alongside one of his team members on Bloodhound, Dr Ben Evans, who’s a senior lecturer in aerospace engineering at Swansea University’s College of Engineering.

There were a plethora of other speakers and talks, too. Paul Mason, Innovate UK’s emerging technologies director, talked about the common tech barriers faced by Welsh firms.

He said: “Today’s event is a showcase for the very best innovation across Wales, bringing together innovators, investors and entrepreneurs, with a wide range of business support and advice organisations.

“There was a real buzz of energy and focus at the event which shows the appetite of businesses in Wales to innovate and grow.”

Finding funding was a focus area of the event. There were three expert panels consisting of people and organisations who have grown at the various stages of seed investment.

Ashley Cooper, chair of Venturefest Wales, said: “Venturefest is about connecting all of the key elements of the eco-system including entrepreneurs, big businesses, government and support agencies, financiers and innovators both from academia and outside.

“It’s about connecting, communicating and then collaborating and then taking proactive action to accelerate business growth. This year’s event was the biggest ever with a fantastic buzz. We look forward to building on our successes to deliver an even better event for Wales in 2017.”

Key partners in Venturefest Wales 2016 included Innovate UK, Welsh Government, Cardiff University, University of South Wales, Finance Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Swansea University.