THE innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow gathered at an exciting annual conference giving them a platform to showcase their cutting-edge designs and technology, with a record-breaking £90m worth of investment opportunities available to those attending.

Venturefest South offered an interactive day with great speakers, seminars, workshops and investor pitching sessions, as well as demonstrations of the latest technology and innovations, bringing together innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and businesses from across the south to share ideas, explore best-practice, showcase new technology and create deals to help develop and take local business ideas forward.

The event, held at the Ageas Bowl, in Southampton was opened by chair Chris Allington who explained the importance of the conference to more than 1,000 people who attended.

“This is the biggest registration we have ever had,” he said, adding: “This is the third annual event. The south is massive but it doesn’t have an event run by the innovation community for the innovation community. It’s about celebrating economic growth whether we are in or out of Europe It matters that we support our innovators and engineers.”

He added: “Each year it grows in stature and importance leaving me amazed by the quality of the innovators pitching for investment and the sheer imagination and creativity on display…

“The south is a national economic asset which is unique in its research, scientific, technical and innovative capability. Success here resonates across the UK. Venturefest South is about driving economic growth by showcasing success, highlighting opportunities, connecting people and inspiring thinking. This year is the first time we are delivering massive opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses. We are also smashing records with more attendees, more sponsors and more investment opportunities and more excitement.”

Chris thanked the large range of partners who support the not-for-profit partnership, including Basingstoke Get Launched which brings together SETsquared, IncuHive, Desklodge, Tech Juice and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to provide the support needed for start-up businesses to succeed, including networking opportunities, affordable and flexible space and excellent transport links.

Amanda Gordge, engagement and marketing manager at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, said: “We are promoting Basingstoke as a great place for start-ups and all the support that’s available.

“We have lots of businesses supporting us with Desklodge and IncuHive supporting start-ups SETsquared for tech start-ups and Tech Juice which is part of Juicy Marketing.”

Basingstoke Get Launched brought along nine innovators to Venturefest, all looking for investment opportunities, and 20 students from Basingstoke College of Technology.

The team was also promoting an event being held at Desklodge from April 26 to 28 called The Big IoTHACK Hackathon when participants will spend the weekend developing a business plan and prototype solution to pitch to a panel of expert judges who will select a winner.

Those attending Venturefest could make their way around different zones.

The collaboration zone was where the founding partners and host of other organisations from the south’s wider innovation community were available to chat.

The Innovation Zone showcased more than 40 of the freshest and most exciting new innovations, start-ups, disruptors and businesses while the Knowledge Zone was where seminars, talks and workshops were held.

The Entrepreneur Zone focused on the emerging talent coming from the region’s top universities and the Investment Zone gave innovators get ready for investment.

Speakers included George Scott-Welsh, chief operating officer at Basingstoke’s IncuHive, a co-working, start-up investment and business incubation company.