Venturefest South and Solent LEP call for southern pioneers to join forces this March

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Hannah Bergman-Brown

Hannah Bergman-Brown

Published Thursday 25th February 2021

Venturefest South and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have partnered with Innovate UK and KTN to bring you Innovate Local: Southern Pioneers on 8-9 March 2021. 

Innovate Local: Southern Pioneers is a two-day virtual event for pioneers, entrepreneurs, businesses, support agencies and practitioners interested in navigating and capitalising on the innovation ecosystem across the South Coast and neighbouring areas.

Following the success of its first ever virtual innovation showcase in 2020, the largest innovation ecosystem in the South, Venturefest South is keen stick to its promise of delivering a bumper year of innovation in 2021 by adding Innovate Local: Southern Pioneers to its offering as well as its annual 2021 Festival of Innovation on 21 October and series of Rumble Events throughout the year.

Sarah Duckering, Venturefest South Partner and Director of Research & Innovation at University of Portsmouth said: “It's encouraging that the Venturefest South network is able to continue to deliver valuable support,  guidance and inspiration for innovators and businesses across the South.  This will be amplified with this event in partnership with Innovate UK and the KTN.”

This event will bring together some of the key players in the region who are working together to support the economy and businesses as we recover from the challenges of Covid-19, and move forward following the Brexit Transition.

As well as being the launch of Innovate Local: Southern Pioneers, 8 March is International Women’s Day and the event will highlight many of the strong women business leaders in the realm of innovation, including Anne-Marie Mountifield, Board Director and Chief Executive at Solent LEP who is one of the keynote speakers. The LEP is dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs in the Solent region and partners with organisations such as Natwest to deliver its Women and Business programme which aims to help close the gender gap in business. 

Anne-Marie said: “At the Solent LEP, we recognise the value of innovation in the region and its part in enabling businesses to adapt, recover and grow. I am delighted to be speaking at this fantastic event on International Women's Day, alongside some other great women business leaders. The event will be a showcase of the incredible innovation talent in the region across all sectors and I look forward to sharing information about opportunities available to businesses and how our Growth Hub can support them to flourish.”

The Solent LEP, which is already a founding partner of Venturefest South, strives to support the vibrant innovation and entrepreneurial community in the region, ensuring the right support, funding and opportunities are available to the great businesses, start-ups and innovators made here in the south. This new partnership will contribute towards one of its core aims: to support a flourishing business environment that encourages innovation, fosters collaboration and enables businesses of all sizes and sectors to thrive.


Why attend?

  • You’ll find out about the local economic priorities and the growth opportunities for businesses developing new ideas across the South Coast.
  • You’ll hear from and meet with national and local support agencies. They can help you to form collaborative partnerships, undertake Research and Development, access funding and finance, and develop skills and talent for your business.
  • You’ll hear from local businesses about their innovation journey and be able to network with people you may be able to collaborate with to fast track your innovation
  • Agencies and practitioners across the partner agencies will have the opportunity to network with each other and engage with businesses seeking innovation support.
  • There will be different sessions and workshops each day. When you sign-up, you will be able to choose the sessions that you’re most interested in.


David Legg from Innovate UK said: “We’re really excited for what this partnership can do in terms of developing the regional economy. We've got a packed schedule with brilliant speakers, businesses and opportunities so it’s really not to be missed.”

Attendees will also hear from some key industry players, including: 

  • Karen Lucas, CEO Vikoma
  • Sue Simmonite, Associated British Port
  • Nick Royal, Commercial Manager, Ricardo Engineering
  • Ally Barker, Airbus Defence and Space, Airbus
  • Nick Allott, CEO nquiringMinds
  • Mike Biddle, Director, Innovate UK
  • Anne-Marie Mountifield, CEO Solent Local Enterprise Partnership

This event is organised by Innovate UK, Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, Venturefest South and KTN in partnership with the Catapult Network and Business Growth Hub networks. To find out more, book tickets or to enquire about a virtual exhibition space, click here.


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