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Over £100M of opportunity announced for #VFS20 Festival of Innovation

The fourth annual #VFS20 Festival of Innovation is celebrating the hugely increased opportunity for its 2020 event on March 27 at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.
One of the fastest-growing innovation communities in the UK, Venturefest South, will be presenting the unmissable #VFS2020 Festival of Innovation which is set to be the most impressive yet, with a confirmed over £100m of funding and investment opportunities, Over 1000 visitors as expected to access and unparalleled connections with innovators, investors and entrepreneurs.

For 2020, the event is set to surpass itself with pledges already from VFS partners including; BAE Systems, Dstl, University of Portsmouth, Solent LEP, University of Southampton, and Greentech South to the combined value of £73M (an increase of £28m from 2019).

Businesses from the south will have the opportunity to meet these companies and pitch for their funding. In addition, over £50m of opportunity to invest comes from Venturefest South innovators
and entrepreneurs ranging from £25,000 to £20m.

Venturefest South Chair Chris Allington said: “Venturefest South is funded by the Partners solely for the region’s innovation community. We bring together innovators, investors and entrepreneurs to help strengthen our regional economy and the community of businesses within it. All the money raised from sponsorships and ticket sales go toward creating
opportunities for early-stage businesses and startups to exhibit as innovators for free”. VFS20 Festival of Innovation has a packed schedule with hands-on workshops and expert talks on a variety of topics covering all things innovation, funding, sustainability and creative industries. Open Mic, the fun and informal pitching competition sponsored by Carswell Gould and the New Entrepreneurs Zone are also back by popular demand.

If you are looking for an example of what Venturefest South could do for you, successes include the creator of Zip Us In, Kate Bell, who won the Innovator of the Year award at VFS19 for her design of a jacket expander panel for use during pregnancy. Since then, she has been named in the UK’s Top Ten Women Entrepreneurs. Previously, Connell McLaughlin
had a stand in the New Entrepreneurs Zone and pitched at the Open Mic event. Four investors each pledged £100k towards his business, Route Reports, which has gone from strength to strength and is now based in San Francisco with a valuation of $2 million.

VFS20 Festival of Innovation will take place on Friday 27 March 2020 at the Ageas Bowl, West End, Southampton from 9.30am to 3.30pm.

Tickets are available on Eventbrite: and via the website:

Some of the opportunities on offer to established businesses and startups from Venturefest South Partners

Record spending is highlighted by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) commitment to spend £41 million on research directly with SMEs, up from £38 million last year. At #VFS2020, Dstl will be exhibiting some of its work with industry, including a scale model of the MAST (Maritime Autonomous Surface Testbed) boat. Gary Aitkenhead, Chief Executive of Dstl said: “Dstl places around 26% of its outsourced
research with SMEs and being part of Venturefest helps us to achieve our aspiration to continue to increase this percentage. Dstl and DASA (Defence and Security Accelerator) representatives will be available at the event to discuss collaboration and funding

BAE Systems
Matthew Albans, Head of Innovation at BAE Systems Maritime Lab said: “Globally, we spend more than £10 billion a year with over 20,000 suppliers from across the world. In the south of England alone we spend around £24 million a year and work with 270 suppliers. Supplier relationships are important for BAE Systems, as we depend on them to help us deliver the
products and systems our customers need on time.”

Portsmouth University
Pam Jones, Regional Development Officer at Portsmouth University said: “University of Portsmouth and partners have secured over £3m of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding to deliver a range of projects that support SMEs at Venturefest South to grow and commercialise innovations.” opportunities including Dstl’s Searchlight initiative attracting non-traditional suppliers to work with the defence community.”

Greentech South
Greentech South has pledged a £4m fund for sustainable investment at Venturefest.

Solent LEP
Venturefest partner Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will be bringing a range of business support initiatives and support opportunities to #VFS2020. Anne-Marie Mountifield, Solent LEP Executive Director said: “The Solent LEP is the central point of contact for any sized business in the Solent area, where they can access free impartial business support. The LEP will be launching a £1 million funding programme for micro-grants for businesses in 2020 at Venturefest 2020.”

Fareham College
This year’s showcase has been strengthened by its first further education (FE) college partner with Fareham College now on board. Andrew Kaye, Principal and Chief Executive at Fareham College said: “In supporting the VFS20 Festival of Innovation, Fareham College students will be able to access new opportunities and connections with businesses. Becoming a Venturefest South partner will help to open new doors for our students to become the innovators of tomorrow.”

University of Southampton
University of Southampton is on hand to talk about its range of support, incubation opportunities and its Future Worlds accelerator which has raised over £7m in early-stage funding. SETsquared the Global #1 University Business Incubator has supported over 4,000 UK high tech start-ups since its inception, helping them raise more than £1.8bn of investment and creating £8.6 billion of economic impact to date.

Portsmouth City Council
Portsmouth City Council will be sharing news on a new £1bn development that promises to be a high draw and benefit to the innovation community. It will also be discussing the ‘‘Crowdfund Portsmouth’ website which enables local businesses, entrepreneurs and social enterprises to raise money to help their business to grow and to pitch for a share of a
£40,000 pot of match-funding from Portsmouth City Council.

The team at the Hampshire Conference Bureau are proud and very excited be the event management partner for Venturefest 2020, and we look forward to seeing you there!