Innovation event Venturefest Bristol and Bath 2015 was held in Bristol yesterday and if you missed it, you really missed out. It was a truly great event that brought together tech innovators new and old and showed off how the Bristol and Bath region is at the forefront of all forms of cutting-edge technology.

With 1,200 people coming through the doors of the Engine Shed and Passenger Shed, enticed by the promise of getting to meet top tech innovators and see the technology they are producing, not to mention hearing talks from successful entrepreneurs like the CEO founder of IMDB, the founder of Open Bionics – creators of 3D-printed robotic hands – and SXSW’s Director of Technology, there was a real buzz to the whole event.

“This Venturefest has had the most delegates registered ever”


Nigel Walker, Head of Funding for the Government’s Innovation agency Innovate UK, which is the headline national sponsor for the Venturefest network and whose team was on hand to help people find out about its funding programmes and Knowledge Transfer Networks, told us: “This Venturefest has had the most delegates registered ever. It’s bigger and better than I was expecting.”

  He added: “It’s reinvigorated. There are innovators and technologists, but there are also entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and professional service providers. It feels more connected with business, and that’s good as the reason for innovating is to grow your business.”

There were a lot of different things to do and see too, with over 100 companies involved in everything from startup villages, innovation showcases, investor pitching, and general, but oh so important, networking.


A busy Startup Village

startup-village-venturefest-bristol-and-bathTalking of networking, in the Engine Shed there was an incredible buzz at the Startup Village where tech entrepreneurs were showing off their latest and brightest tech ideas.

A constant stream of people were chatting to and finding out more about the 30 tech projects on display, with one visitor describing it as ‘a jumble sale of ideas!’

The startups were looking for new customers, possible investors and people to work with – and there was no shortage of all three in the crowds of people who came past their stands.

Entrepreneurs sharing secrets

There was also a great chance for the startups to get advice on how to run their businesses from our very own TechSPARK Entrepreneurs’ Club, where tech entrepreneurs from successful local companies offered frank advice on both the failures and successes that have got them where they are today.


The CEOs and founders sharing their experiences were from from companies like digital media experts Sift, photo duelling app Duel, BAFTA-awarding winning creative agency Complete Control, business idea platform IdeaSquares, digital agency Storm, people search engine PeopleGraph and UX digital agency Nameless.

CEO and founders: Paul Archer (Duel), Tom Savage (PeopleGraph), Ben Heald (Sift), Jaya Chakrabati (Nameless), Andrew Mulvenna (Brightpearl), Kirsty Ranger (IdeaSquares), Glynn Hayward (Complete Control) and David Kelly (Storm)

There was a lot of good humour as wannabe entrepreneurs asked questions from the eight entrepreneurs at the two sessions, with some excellent advice on finding the right team and investment model offered.

Investors shown local tech opportunities

Behind closed doors there were also new startups being put through gruelling pitch-and-question sessions from top investors who were sniffing out new opportunities at the Silicon Gorge Investor Showcase. The feedback from the investors was great, so hopefully we’ll be hearing of a few more startups being helped to get to the next stage in the next few months!

1,500 square metres of innovation

Take a walk through into the Passenger Shed and you could meet the minds behind major tech projects like VENTURER Bristol’s driverless car venture, multi-use drones, bikes made of 3D-printed advanced materials, and virtual reality in games and other applications in the massive Innovation Showcase.

Innovation showcase: the VENTURER self-driving car, the poo-powered Bio-Bug, drone technologies for scanning places it would be dangerous to send humans and Airbus’s Eco Flyer

Here you could also chat to the creators of innovative and fun tech digital and creative companies such as in-sync filming app Nth Screen, virtual reality gaming experts Opposable games, gaming tech incubator Bristol Games Hub, digital and reality gaming crossover Fabulous Beasts , new media experts Somo and game creators Auroch Digital.



Green technology galore

Also showing off their wares, and to help celebrate Bristol’s European Green Capital status (and because the region is very good at it!), were an impressive array of green technology companies. These included Airbus’ graduate and apprentice project the Bristol Eco-Flyer – a two-man electric aircraft that will have no carbon emissions in flight which is being created in its facility in Filton; the Bio-Bug, a VW Beetle converted to run on fuel produced from human sewage, and Big Belly, providers of bins that can monitor the environment, provide Wi-Fi, automatically compact the rubbish put into them and even signal the council to empty them when they are full!


There was also a poo-powered bus taking people to the Venturefest event! You could see more about the sustainable tech going on in and around Bristol in a brochure given away at the event outlining some of the impressive green tech companies already making a profit from saving the world. You can download an online version of the Green tech 2015 Brochure on the Bristol 2015 website.

Top tech speakers

Throughout the day there were also talks from top innovators like Bristol-based Joel Gibbard of robotics firm Open Bionics who told us about his journey to make his idea for 3D printable artificial limbs a reality, picking up the Young Designer of the Year Award and a £125K Intel prize on the way.


Col Needham the CEO Founder of Bristol-based IMDB, the number one movie website in the world, and SXSW’s Director of Technology Scot Wilcox, also spoke about their experiences, and there were numerous knowledge panels and tech experts offering opinions and top tips throughout the day on topics as diverse as sustainable finance, high performance computing, advanced engineering, innovation funding and city innovation.


You can see more about Venturefest at the Venturefest Bristol and Bath website and can see the conversations stirred up at the event at their Twitter feed here: @venturefestBB. There are Venturefest events happening all over the country too – see the Venturefest Network’s events page for the next one. And look out for the next Venturefest Bristol and Bath in 2017!