“This event was a major success!” says Caroline Hopkins, Development Director for ENGIE UK. As a true hub for innovation in the region, the event involved innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and people passionate about new technologies. “It was natural for us to participate in this event, since ENGIE works with local and national-level players to promote innovation in the United Kingdom. The North East is particularly active in this area,” adds Caroline Hopkins, "and is aiming to create the UK's best innovation hub".
Simon Green, director of Venturefest North East, also confirmed the region’s prowess in innovation, which is reflected in the event’s key message for its 2015 edition: “the region is a hotbed of innovation”.
This type of daylong event is an ideal place to meet project leaders, young entrepreneurs and incubators working on the businesses of the future. North East LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Innovate UK, both main partners of this Venturefest, were also present, as were startups. The event also included speeches by Jackie Marshall-Balloch (Innovate UK) about the potential for innovations related to aging populations. Harry Swan, representing the fourth generation of his family to lead Thomas Wan and Co Ltd, also spoke about the amazing entrepreneurial adventure of his family business.
Towards ever more Open-innovation
Beyond the scope of Venturefest, ENGIE UK works year-round with the main innovative players in the country to identify new entrepreneurs. “We work closely with chambers of commerce from all over the UK, and with the network of universities and investment funds” underlines Caroline Hopkins. A call for projects was launched at the innovation breakfast. Its goal: to “reinvent the city of tomorrow by using the potential of Big Data and the internet of things to help municipalities and citizens.”
During the morning, ENGIE also shared information about its innovation process and the ENGIE New Ventures investment fund. “We launched an innovation program 18 months ago and our 100 million euro investment fund lets us invest in startups linked to our business activities.” ENGIE aims to be a leader in the energy transition and must innovate by adopting new business approaches to decentralized energy and renewables. “It’s an exciting period for ENGIE, but also for the North East and the UK in general, where many companies share our willingness to innovate” explains Caroline.
Some particularly promising and innovative ideas were brought up during the “innovation breakfast”. Numerous project leaders came by the ENGIE booth over the course of the day to exchange ideas with experts from the Group. “We would like to find a way of workin with some of these young companies”, concludes ENGIE UK’s Development Director.Innovators interested in the Venturefest or in opportunities at ENGIE will soon have another chance to speak with Group experts from the United Kingdom: finalists from the call for projects launched at Venturefest will be invited to present their innovations at a new event in January 2016 to be hosted by ENGIE UK.
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