Region’s entrepreneurial success to be highlighted at Venturefest WM

West Midlands’ first Venturefest to bring together region’s most innovative companies.

Dr Ruth McKernan will address delegates at the West Midlands’ first Venturefest exhibition (30th June, NEC Birmingham) – a free event for 450 of the region’s entrepreneurs and innovators to generate new ideas and contacts.

In May, Dr McKernan became Chief Executive of Innovate UK, the government body that supports SMEs with high growth potential. With 25 years of research and commercial experience in the pharmaceutical industry, she was awarded a CBE in 2013 for services to Business, Innovation and Skills.

During the event, Dr McKernan will discuss the West Midlands’ strong track record in supporting the growth and development of its smaller firms. Within the region, the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP area has the highest SME scale-up rate in England after London, according to the Enterprise Research Centre. Some 7.1% of firms in Greater Birmingham generate a £1 million turnover within three years – compared with an average of 6.2% in England.

She said: “The West Midlands is home to some of the UK’s strongest innovators and entrepreneurs. Only by innovating will we create the new jobs and industries of tomorrow. With SME growth and start-up rates returning to pre-recession levels, now is the time for innovative firms in the region to capitalise on an upturn in business confidence – to grow their market share, form new partnerships and further develop their products.”

Dr McKernan will be joined at Venturefest WM by key speakers including Sir Peter Rigby, Chairman and Chief Executive of Rigby Group plc; Patrick McCarron, Partnerships Executive at UK Trade & Investment; and Simon Hill, CEO of ideas-sharing platform Wazoku, one of the UK’s fastest growing software firms. Topics covered at the exhibition’s seminars and workshops include getting ideas to market; building the digital capabilities of SMEs; student and graduate start-ups; engaging with universities; and angel investors.

Venturefest WM is organised by Birmingham Science City; an independent partnership of public, private, and HE sectors that promotes science and technology. Director, Pam Waddell, added: “The West Midlands has a strong international reputation in innovation and creativity, and is home to some of the UK’s largest clusters of life sciences and technology businesses.

“Venturefest aims to help companies within the science and technology sectors turn their creative concepts into reality – helping firms to exchange ideas with like-minded entrepreneurs, hear from industry experts and meet potential investors.”

To register for Venturefest WM, view the event programme and find out about sponsorship opportunities, log on to the exhibition website