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BUSINESS WEST – CONNECTING BUSINESSES


inspire


#VRWC17 event


brings VR to life With virtual reality exploding over the past few years, it's no surprise that the VR World Congress proved to be an extremely popular three day event in the UK and Europe’s VR hub; with #VRWC17 even trending on Twitter across Bristol. Attracting 2,000 delegates to the city’s


Millennium Square, the annual congress and expo covered everything from specialist and keynote conference talks, investment panels and business to business matchmaking. Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), a partner of


Paul O’Collins addresses delegates at the event


Helping stimulate innovation, growth


I


t works. We’ve a great record in helping companies innovate and grow internationally.


That was the message from Paul O’Collins, head of Innovation at Business West, to delegates at the Stimulating Innovation and Growth event, part of Venturefest Bristol and Bath 2017 series. In association with Enterprise


‘We want


businesses to be more innovative, we want them to challenge, we want them to disrupt’


Europe Network South West and the Department of International Trade, this was the West of England Growth Hub’s first Venturefest event. This was an opportunity for businesses to learn about the wealth of support available to help them grow through innovation – and break into new markets. Paul spoke to companies from the West of


England about EEN’s role as part of the Innovate UK family. He gave an overview of the support provided by EEN from helping find international


EEN Events


Bio-sensing technologies Matchmaking Event, 10 May, Riva del Garda, Italy www.b2match.eu/biosensing2017


Regional Food and Drink SME Support Workshop, 11 May, Weston-super-Mare www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/regional-food-and-drink-sme-support-workshop-registration- 32618992284


European Maritime Day Matchmaking Event, 19 May, Poole www.b2match.eu/emd2017


partners to supporting businesses with R&D funding applications. Attendees were also given an


overview of the innovate2succeed programme, a free innovation coaching programme for ambitious businesses, particularly scale- ups, who are introducing exciting new products or services and recognise the critical role


innovation plays in their growth plans. Paul said: “We want businesses to be


more innovative, we want them to challenge, we want them to disrupt, we want the Ubers, we want the Googles, we want the organisations that can go out there and turn the market on its head for UK PLC. “It’s about developing innovation capacity,


helping you plan, helping you prepare for international activity.” innovate2succeed is funded by Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund.


the B2B matchmaking event, defied expectations of what can be achieved when connecting stakeholders, from R&D and start-ups working on new developments, to stakeholders from various sectors looking for new solutions. In total, the matchmaking event saw:


• 13 countries represented • 120 participants attend a day before the main Expo and Conference to participate solely in matchmaking • Matchmaking slots extended to second and third day of the Congress due to popularity • Over 4,000 individual profile views by the end of the second day Chris Lyons, Enterprise Europe Network sector


lead, said: “It was an absolute pleasure meeting many local Bristol companies, in addition to a host of regional, national and international businesses visiting the UK and Europe’s VR hub. “This year’s event was much bigger and word


has spread. There was a real buzz in the main matchmaking room, with up to 60 twenty-minute one-to-one meetings taking place in a single hour. “One of the great results of matchmaking is not


just the immediate introductions, but the medium to long term results. “The matchmaking website stays online


indefinitely with their unique URL and each participant has their own profile. We usually find that the number of profile views treble in the two months after the event has taken place.” Blueflame Digital Director Rich Lloyd, who took


part in matchmaking for the first time, added: “It honestly was the best networking event I've ever attended. Every person was spot on, we were able to get straight to the point and had amazing conversations. “Extended conversations have come off the


back of every meeting as well. I will definitely do it again.” While matchmaking was a fundamental part of


VR World Congress, speakers and ideas from all over the world made it a resounding success. EEN is looking forward to partnering on the event once again next year, which promises to be bigger and better.


If you missed this year’s event and are interested in the matchmaking aspect please see all the delegates listed at www.b2match.eu/vrwc2017


MAY/JUNE 2017 insight 19


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