Last week I attended Venturefest Scotland in Glasgow at the Science Centre. As a recently ex-academic, it’s a bit strange to me to attend a conference with such a different angle to the ones I’m used to.
Venturefest is a business and innovation conference (I think they call it a summit) that has a real focus on spin-outs, start-ups and SMEs, and on helping companies like this to grow. Given the innovation and small companies angle, it makes sense for businesses like IP firms to have a presence. There are a lot of amazing ideas out there, and if we aren’t helping people to protect those, someone else will. Besides, getting to hear about exciting new ideas is one of the main reasons I wanted to go into patents.
We kicked off with an opening plenary, welcoming us to the event and introducing us to a few of the people attending. Then we moved onto parallel sessions. I always have a hard time deciding which sessions to attend when this happens and, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the Venturefest organisers were recording things, so I’ll just have to hope that I got the best possible experience out of the events I did attend.
I chose Trends and Futures: Innovation Space, which was held in the Planetarium, kicked off with a quick Planetarium demo (the Glasgow Science Centre’s new Planetarium is a totally amazing facility, if a slightly odd choice for a talk, and is well worth a visit all by itself) before we heard from ClydeSpace and Aspire, both involved in Satelite technologies.
Next up I went along to Business Essentials: Protecting, Using and Exploiting your Intellectual Property. Well, I couldn’t miss that one could I? Surprisingly (to me) I didn’t think this session was super-well attended. I’ll have to think carefully about how I would run such a session in future, should I ever get the opportunity, and how I would attract people to it (and keep them listening once they got there). Food for thought.
After pausing for a coffee I moved on to Business Essentials: Scotland: A World Class Entrepreneurial Hub. I’m hearing more and more about how up-and-coming Scotland is in this respect. I’m aware of the strong bias here, of course, but, incidentally, just last night I was at another event (Essential Ingredients for starting up a successful start up in Edinburgh) where we were told that Edinburgh is the second most successful company in the UK for Scale-Up firms, after London. Glasgow is 6th. There has to be something in it.
We had a quick break for lunch and I got to chat with a few people and explore the stands that the events’ sponsors had. I noted that Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise both had a strong presence. Seriously, if you’re running, or thinking about starting, a cool new business – go talk to those guys. They do amazing stuff.
After lunch, I went over to see Business Essentials: Resource Efficiency and the Circular Economy. Without especially meaning to, it turns out I went to a fair few of the Business Essentials sessions. As it happens though, this was one of my favourite events of the day. We heard from CuanTec (who are using waste from langoustines to produce a safe new product with which to package food in a way that makes it keep for longer) and from Jaw Brew (who make beer but in particular, a beer called Hardtack that makes use of yesterday’s breakfast rolls so they don’t go to waste). Both companies are doing really cool, innovative things and it was fascinating to hear from them.
Next, I attended Innovating Innovation: Hidden Figures – Women in Innovation. Yeah, I’m nothing if not predictable, right? It was a panel session with four women, with four unlikely stories about how they had made their businesses work for them in spite of the odds. If nothing else I have a new favourite musician now, thanks to hearing from MALKA.
Finally, we had a closing plenary, during which I particularly enjoyed hearing from Made Brave and the day wrapped up. I’d hoped to get the opportunity to speak to a few more people before we left but I guess an 08:30 start had taken its toll and most people were quick to pack up and be on their way. Still, with the amount going on in the business and innovation space in Edinburgh and Glasgow areas, I’m sure I’ll get plenty more opportunities in the near future.