The first Venturefest was set up in Oxford in 1999, borne out of a conversation between Lord Sainsbury and Professor Peter Johnson about the market failure involved in those with ideas needing investment who were failing to find those with money seeking great new innovations as investment opportunities. With vital financial support from Lord Sainsbury until 2013 Venturefests were also set up in Yorkshire (since 2003) and Bristol (2011) with Wales and the North East initiating their own events in 2013.
During 2011 the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK) considered how it could amplify its work in accelerating the translation of innovation and technology into increased economic growth. Based on the existing Venturefest brand, they commissioned a feasibility study in 2013, to assess the idea of establishing a network of local Venturefest style events that would operate as a UK-wide network, designed to achieve the same ends as Innovate UK by sharing best practice, facilitating linkages between national and local levels and using shared Venturefest branding to benefit all the organisations involved.
As a result Innovate UK became an anchor sponsor of the Venturefest Network, which would operate as part of the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN Ltd) to deliver a network of Venturefest events across the UK. Each event shares a common brand and format but recognises and embraces the various regional identities.
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