Innovators, investors and entrepreneurs set to come together at Venturefest Oxford showcase


Venturefest Oxford is set to return on Thursday 25 November, bringing together the county’s greatest minds in discussion as to how the county’s ‘world-class ecosystem’ can remain at the forefront of enterprise, innovation, development of cutting-edge technology and new industries.

This year’s ‘hybrid’ event is set to take place at the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Visitor Centre on the Harwell Campus, alongside extensive online delivery of the event – following the cancellation of last year’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alongside the usual opportunity for networking and the showcase and exhibition, this year’s event sees three key panel discussions, the first of which is entitled: ‘From Glasgow to Oxfordshire – reflections on COP26’. The session will cover themes from the climate change conference which form key points of consideration throughout this year’s programme – which comes just weeks after the close of the summit.

The session will be chaired by energy expert Chris Goodall, featuring a panel comprised of Barbara Hammond (Low Carbon Oxford), Henry Snaith (Oxford PV) and Tim Curtis (Ricardo).

Another key session will focus on ‘Creating an ecosystem for start-ups to thrive’, featuring an expert panel comprising of Gillian McLaren (British Business Bank), Megan Morys Carter (TheHill), Nicki Campling (Barclays Eagle Labs Oxford), Jens Tholstrup (OION), Mark Evans (Adaptix) – alongside representatives from Street Drone and Precision Life.

This session will be chaired by Nicola McConville, Partner at Taylor Vinters and Venturefest Board Member.

The final session of this year’s showcase will focus on ‘What does Oxfordshire have to offer quantum computing?’, discussing one of the four ‘transformative’ technologies with the potential to add £180bn GVA growth to the UK economy by 2030 – as outlined by the Oxfordshire Transformative Technologies Alliance’s 2018 Science and Innovation Audit.

Set to be chaired by a representative from Oxford Science Enterprises, the panel for this session comprises of Stuart Woods (Oxford Instruments), Barbara Ghinelli (STFC), Tim Balance (Cold Quanta), Wenmiao Yu (Quantum Dice), Tom Harty (Oxford Ionic), and Michael Cuthbert (NQCC).

This year’s event also sees a celebration of our region’s outstanding contributions in addressing the challenges brought by the pandemic, through ‘The Oxford Trust Awards: COVID Innovation Heroes’ – with a series of awards set to be presented by the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire.

Event sponsors include headline event sponsor – Harwell Science and Innovation Campus – alongside session sponsors: British Business Bank, National Quantum Computing Centre, Taylor Vinters and James Cowper Kreston.

Partners for the event include: The Oxford Trust, University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Science & Technologies Facilities Council and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive at OxLEP – said: “Innovation is at the heart of our strategy to drive economic growth in Oxfordshire and Venturefest provides the perfect platform to nurture new and growing businesses and innovators, connecting them with investors and support services.

“Small businesses are the foundation of our local and national economy and OxLEP is committed to providing and signposting to support and advice, training, workshops and access to grants to help start-ups to flourish and established small companies to grow.

“Many of our SMEs here in Oxfordshire truly punch above their weight, trading on a national or even international scale and are shining examples of the entrepreneurial flair, innovation and dedication that the county needs to continue to thrive.”