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21st Venturefest showcases the Oxford innovation ecosystem

When Venturefest Oxford was founded 21 years ago, its main aim was to provide the space and opportunity for budding entrepreneurs and prospective investors to network and collaborate. Earlier iterations were small metworking events, now the annual festival of entrepreneurship includes a multitude of collaborative tools, facilitated meetings, conferences and events, face-to-face collaborations and instructive and interesting talks and seminars.

The event held in September at Oxford Brookes University saw 40 speakers and 28 exhibitors – from across a variety of science and technology fields – take part, alongside 28 ‘showcase’ exhibitors who revealed some of their latest developments and commercial opportunities.

TheHill sponsored the Innovation Showcase, bringing nine companies with different innovative approaches to health and care. Visitors met representatives from Adaptix, who are revolutionising diagnosis through 3D images; Cotswold Health technology who are developing wearables to help people with Parkinson’s disease to walk; Dr Julian’s accessible mental healthcare platform; KroniKare’s AI-driven system to assess, diagnose and manage chronic wounds; Nye Health who have a new data driven approach to primary care; Team RAICQ’s training platform for people who review medical imaging; TrustOnTap’s application for helping eldery people access affordable care; Visiba Care who enable healthcare providers to see their own patients virtually and Wizdish who have the first and only commercially available VR treadmill, a unique tool for medical research and clinical treatment.

The showcase was buzzing with interest and at one point the queue to look at the ROVR dominated the space as students from the local schools were drawn irresistably towards it. Investors and entrepeneurs clustered around all the stands and the companies were kept busy with a mini pitch session at a social mixer in the rooms above union square and both Nye Health and Cotswold Heath Technology also being shortlisted for awards.

Venturefest Board Director and Chief Executive of OxLEP, Nigel Tipple, said, “Never before has science, technology and innovation been more important to both the Oxfordshire and UK economies, particularly following the recent launch of the Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy, which aims to see the county become a top-three global innovation ecosystem by 2040 – with this in mind, Venturefest Oxford’s role is increasingly vital.”

Planning is already underway for 2020 and the Board is determined to ensure the event is kept relevant and focused on its core mission of bringing together Oxford’s innovation community. Mike Foster, Executive Chair for the last year, is stepping down due to other commitments and an announcement will be made later about the search for a replacement.

Board Director and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, Alistair Fitt, predicts an exciting year ahead for both Venturefest Oxford and the entrepreneurs and innovators in the County. He said “Venturefest Oxford has carved a very special niche in the hearts of Oxfordshire’s business community. I very much look forward to building an exciting and forward-thinking event in 2020. We’d also like to thank Mike Foster for his contribution this year, and wish him every success in the future.”

Archived photographs of the 2019 event, and the programme, can be found on the Venturefest website.

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