Venturefest North East shone a welcome light on the region’s most successful and ambitious enterprises this week. As sponsors of the event we were also delighted to see it offer SMEs and startups the opportunity to gain, valuable support, learn about funding, network and discuss innovation.
But for those aspiring entrepreneurs in attendance, the question now is: where to go from here?
Earlier this week Venturefest North East came to the Gateshead Hilton. Part of a national network of conferences supported by Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network, the event was designed to increase the number of innovative products and services emerging from the region.
A combination of inspiring keynote speeches, helpful workshops and an impressive Innovation Showcase made this unique event a truly fantastic opportunity for the SME community. The event also represented an opportunity for startups with big ideas to get themselves in front of potential investors, and for businesses facing significant challenges to seek guidance from industry-specific experts.
As well as sponsoring the event, we sent a team of Tracy Clarkson, Gordon Hanna and Erin Haken along to take part in the ‘Meet the Investor’ sessions and explain how initiatives such as Virgin Start Up loans and our new programme, Start and Grow, are enabling businesses in the region to flourish.
Speaking after Venturefest, Tracy said:
“The ‘Meet the Investor’ sessions presented a unique opportunity for bringing together funders and budding entrepreneurs. And the whole day provided a fantastic platform for raising the profile of the North East, putting us firmly on the innovation and entrepreneurial map.”
Also in attendance at the event as part of the Innovation Showcase was Seaweed & Co., a start-up business launched in 2015. Seaweed & Co. supplies and accredits seaweed products for the food and nutrition sector, as well as advising on its use more broadly within the burgeoning seaweed industry.
Seaweed & Co. also happens to be one of the first beneficiaries of Start & Grow, and the recipient of a £25,000 loan through Virgin Start-up – the maximum sum available through the scheme.
Speaking at the event, Seaweed & Co.’s Managing Director, Dr Craig Rose, said:
“We were delighted to be invited to attend Venturefest North East as part of the Innovation Showcase. Like many of the companies exhibiting here we are offering something quite different, unique and progressive. It’s great to see such a diverse range of enterprises challenging conventions and bringing something new and dynamic to the region.
“What we all seem to share in common, however, is an ambition to grow and keep moving things forward. We all have a different proposition and a different perspective but it can be inspiring to see how another entrepreneur is meeting challenges and overcoming obstacles.”
Of course, Venturefest North East is just one day. And for the thousands of budding entrepreneurs out there in the region, there needs to be a way to access funding opportunities and gain valuable business support for more than one day a year.
At TEDCO we are passionate about business support. And with a track record for helping an average of four businesses to set up every week, we know what it takes to get enterprises up and running, 365 days of the year.
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Through our newest initiative, Start and Grow, which is funded by the Regional Growth Fund we are able to aid individuals with both pre and post start up support. Run on a national basis by the Cavendish Consortium, Start and Grow promises to be a crucial tool in the drive to build the size and strength of the SME community in England. And in the North East we believe that we possess some of the brightest entrepreneurs who, with the right help and support, can become the next multi-million pound organization.
Dr Rose has his own take on the part TEDCO has played in his own success to date:
“TEDCO played an integral role in helping guide us through our early months of trading, and they continue to support our business today. Seaweed & Co. required a substantial sum of money to invest in equipment and technologies that would advance our work, and with TEDCO’s support we were able to develop our business plan to a point where we were accepted for the Virgin Start-up loan.
“It is also so reassuring to know that the knowledgeable, helpful and passionate team at TEDCO are always on hand for further advice and guidance whenever I might need it. ”
Through schemes such as Virgin Start-up and Start and Grow we are confident that innovation and entrepreneurship in the North East will not only continue in years to come, but go from strength to strength.