Inspiration to connect, innovate and grow

The Glasgow Science Centre will open its doors to some of Scotland's most inspirational innovators, investors and entrepreneurs when it is transformed into the venue for Venturefest Scotland.

The innovation summit, now in its third year, offers high-growth Scottish SMEs and ambitious early-stage companies a chance to tap into expert advice, make connections and build on key skills, from mastering the perfect pitch to spotting the next big trends.

With more than 900 delegates expected to attend Venturefest on 20 September, there will be opportunities for everyone to come away with new ideas and contacts.

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“It is about connecting owners, innovators and investors,” explains Sarah Deas, chair of the Venturefest Scotland working group.

“We want to inspire people, to inform people and to connect people.”

The event, which is part of a UK programme of Venturefest summits, will focus on three specific themes: Industry 4.0, Trends and Futures, and Innovating Innovation.

Through a day of interactive sessions and discussions, a strong line-up of speakers, the popular Pitchfest strand and the not-to-be-overlooked Business Essentials workshops, Venturefest aims tobe relevant to all sectors.

Deas highlights the Innovation 4.0 “Wheel of 4tune” session, where the wheel will be spun to select sectors for a question and answer session. “It’s a very interactive approach,” she adds.

In addition, 15 experts will offer advice on everything from workplace innovation to intellectual property.

“Innovation is not just about survival, it’s about competitive advantage.

“It might be product, service, process or business model innovation that gives a business an advantage. There will be lots of opportunities to learn lessons from others.”

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Collaboration is the concept behind the Innovating Innovation “open innovation” session, which will explore working in partnership with those outside a company, sharing the risks and rewards.

“This is a whole new approach that is growing in attraction globally,” says Deas. “The world is changing fast and you can’t do everything yourself – businesses need to work in partnership.”

Recognising the importance of Scotland’s young innovators, the day also includes Venturejam in which the finalists of a 60-strong hackathon held in August will present their solutions to an energy innovation challenge.

Networking is key to taking any business, in any sector, to the next level, and new for 2017, the Networking Café will encourage just that.

Saltire Fellows will be at the café to help break the ice and make introductions.

A session on Women in Innovation is expected to provoke lively debate, while the workshop “£1bn funding and how to get it” is ideal for businesses looking at how to access funding.

“It’s very much by industry for industry,” says Deas. “The co-production approach is about sharing stories and being inspired by others.

“It’s a very vibrant event and there is so much going on.”

Venturefest Scotland is spearheaded by Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network, Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City of Science and Innovation and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

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Key sponsors include SP Energy Networks, Marks & Clerk, Jumping Rivers, Strathclyde and St Andrews universities, with support from the Scottish Government, Social Investment Scotland, Cultural Enterprise Office Scotland. n

Registration for Venturefest

on 20 September is free.