Alviol was first past the post out of eleven finalists from the East of England’s most innovative tech businesses. The firm is an early stage MedTech business developing Occoris, an elegant and simple inhaler technology that delivers drugs more efficiently to the lungs.
The judges thought Alviol gave a strong pitch, and that the product was destined to have a real impact on the lives of asthma sufferers in the future. The two silver prize winners were Citrecycle, a developer of technology to provide safe, clean, local and sustainable lead-acid battery recycling for the developing world, and Healx, a start-up specialising in finding new therapeutic solutions for rare diseases with the use of advanced data analytics, machine learning and modern computational biology techniques to identify novel drug applications in the area of rare diseases.
The winners all impressed a prestigious judging panel including David Gill, Managing Director of St John’s Innovation Centre; Hugh Parnell, Serial Entrepreneur and Chairman of Cambridge Cleantech; Ian Tracey, Head of Access to Finance, KTN; David Leftley, Managing Partner, Bloc Ventures; Marie Deschamps, London Business Angel; Dr Chris Winter, Managing Partner, Brightstar Partners; Caroline Hopkins, Development Director (UK & Ireland), ENGIE; and David Paul, Director, Corporate Engineering and R&D, Magna International Inc.
Venturefest East was attended by more than 800 investors, entrepreneurs and innovators including 75 exhibitors. In the main plenary session, it was standing room only for the eager delegates first thing in the morning. Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, New Anglia LEP and St John’s Innovation Centre worked together with KTN and Innovate UK to create Venturefest East to provide opportunities to drive new business opportunities, by bringing together networks and individuals. David Gill, Venturefest Patron and Managing Director of St John’s Innovation Centre, said: “The quality of entrants was very high and choosing three winners was extremely difficult. Innovation is thriving in the East and we believe the winners, and many of the others who participated, will go on to be the next big regional successes.”
Kevin Coleman, Project Manager of Venturefest East, said: “What I love about this event is its inclusivity. Sure there are corporate sponsors, investors and there are the big guys in the room – and government is pushing the agenda. Venturefest East was targeted at the new, the hungry and the enthusiastic that could just create the next billion pound companies. If that wasn’t enough we had a mix a tech from bio through games to wireless in the same place, and we just don’t know what interactions between people with different backgrounds will lead to. What we have learned in this region is that once conversations start, big things can happen.”
Neil Darwin, Chief Executive of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP and Venturefest East Patron, said: “There has been a real buzz at Venturefest East today with innovators, entrepreneurs and investors meeting to shares ideas and secure funding. Our area truly defines the future – creating products and enabling discoveries that will change the way we live our lives both now and in the future. It has been fantastic to hear from some of the leaders of entrepreneurship and innovation, such as Hermann Hauser, David Cleevely, and Charles Cotton, who have been there, done that, and have taken the time to share their experiences with over 800 people today. We look forward to seeing many of the start-ups in the future growing to become leaders in their own fields.”
Mark Pendlington, Chairman of New Anglia LEP, said: “The East of England is full of innovation, entrepreneurship and ideas, all of which come together so brilliantly today. The energy and collaboration generated at Venturefest East are certain to result in more jobs and increased growth, there can be no better showcase of our region to the world.” Speaking at the event David Cleevely, Cambridge based serial entrepreneur said: “We know that getting people together always sparks new ideas and this event provides a great opportunity for people in different sectors and from different parts of the region to get together to learn from each other. I hope we will look back and say that other successful businesses were started because of conversations here.