VentureFest North East 2019 speaker line-up announced

A wealth of local, national and global experts in innovation will come together in central Newcastle next month with the aim of inspiring over 800 businesses of all sizes as part of this year’s VentureFest North East.
As the region’s flagship innovation conference, the event provides cross-sector opportunities for collaboration, presenting local businesses with an opportunity to connect with like-minded organisations, learn about the latest trends in innovation and the chance to secure the funding they may need to grow or expand into new markets.

Taking place at St.James’ Park on Thursday 28th November, the Innovation SuperNetwork that delivers VentureFest North East has today announced the speaker line-up for the event, which includes Felicity Burch, Director of Innovation and Digital for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Patrick Ferran, Co-President and Chief Sales Officer at NineSigma and Ella O’Toole, Operations Lead at Notpla. Dean Benson, Founder & CEO of Visualsoft and Ron Ashtiani, Creative Business Leader and recently exited Founder of Atomhawk will also appear in conversation, facilitated by Helen Cadzow, Chief Executive Officer of Cadzow Estates.

As Director of Innovation and Digital, Felicity drives forward the CBI’s policy work to create the conditions that enable businesses to come up with new ideas, invest in research and development (R&D) and adopt new technologies. She also manages the CBI’s partnership with the trade association, Sharing Economy UK, which represents businesses that use the internet to share skills and space.

On speaking at VentureFest North East, Felicity said: “Innovation will help provide solutions to some of the biggest challenges our society faces. Throughout my career I’ve been fortunate enough to work with businesses of all sizes to deliver on policies that will help them to innovate.

“I am really looking forward to joining delegates at VentureFest North East to hear how their ideas are creating new opportunities and share stories from across the business community.”

Dean Benson will take to the stage with Ron Ashtiani where they will address the audience as a part of a ‘fire-side’ chat and both discuss the journey their career path has taken them on.

Dean added: “To be asked to present to over 800 delegates from across the North East is a real honour and it is fantastic that an event of this scale takes place on my own doorstep. It will be great to appear in conversation with Ron and both give our own perspective on what it is like to have founded and grown an innovative business from the ground up.”

Ron continued: “There’s a breadth of innovation coming out of the North East and it is a privilege to be asked to speak at an event that brings together such a broad spectrum of businesses. We hope to be able to inspire those businesses to bring a sense of reinvention and entrepreneurialism to drive success in their own work.”

Patrick Ferran, will discuss his background as a founder and executive in high-tech start-ups and an interesting career path that covers product development, global customer support services and management consultancy.

Estelle Blanks, Executive Director at the Innovation SuperNetwork that plan and deliver VentureFest North East, said: “VentureFest North East continues to go from strength to strength each year, something which is reflected in the speaker line-up for 2019. We have secured some of the top regional, national and international names in innovation for the event, with more announcements to come as we get closer to November 28th.

“By bringing together such a strong collective of speakers, all of whom have their own unique story to tell, we are confident that we can equip and empower businesses with the tools they need to make connections, open themselves up to new markets and secure funding that will help continue to drive forward innovation in the North East.”

VentureFest North East is expected to attract more than 800 delegates in November. An interactive programme has been developed to enhance many of the elements previous delegates have rated amongst their favourites. This includes a focus on making the most of the events networking potential, an Innovation Showcase plus a series of live Innovation Challenges. The event pulls together several thematic strands including innovation leadership and innovative story telling. These strands not only provide dedicated content for those working in these fields, but cross-sector learning that any delegate can apply to their own organisations.

The event takes place on Thursday 28th November 2019 at St James’ Park, Newcastle. The event is FREE to attend and is one way in which the Innovation SuperNetwork provides regional businesses with a platform to innovate, collaborate and grow. Registrations are now open at