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Entrepreneurship Conference 2020 Inspires Students, Entrepreneurs and Professionals

On Wednesday 26 February 2020 more than 65 students, professionals and entrepreneurs gathered at Henley Business School for the Entrepreneurship Conference, led by Reading Entrepreneurs and Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship.

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The aim of the conference was to faciliate discussion the latest trends in entrepreneurship and provide opportunity for attendees to learn about starting a business, exchange knowledge and launch relationships and collaborations. The event was opened by Julia Kala, President of Reading Entrepreneurs, founder of Brighter Future Project and digital marketing executive, followed by an opening talk delivered by Jurek Sikorski, Executive Director of HCfE. Jurek highlighted the theme of the event, 'New Business Environment – New Opportunities for Entrepreneurs' and emphasised the opportunity to get engaged and become part of the local entrepreneurship community around the Thames Valley.

During the conference, attendees had the opportunity to listen to a variety of different talks delivered by successful local entrepreneurs. Between them they covered a wide range of entrepreneurial topics, with a particular focus on the future, the role of technology and the benefits for society, economy and the environment, with attendees also able to contrinute by asing questions and explore the topics further with a networking session at the end over food and drink.

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The 'Beyond Start-Up' talk was a one on one with Nick Coleman, co-founder of Snaffling Pig. Nick shared his insights into the ambition start-up companies needed to have, responding to changes, challenges and opportunities quickly to grow their business.

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Dr Mark Powell led the 'Redefining Performance' talk. Mark drew on his experience as a business writer, consultant and entrepreneur, getting the audience to think about the ways in which high performance could be identified and achieved in business.

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The 'Impact of Technology' panel generated some lively discussions on how new technologies are transforming the business landscape and opening up new horizons. The panel consisted of Rhian Burrel, Director & Head of Strategy at Osokey, Toju Raine, Special Projects Lead at KYMIRA, Weerada Sucharitkul, CEO of FilmDoo, and Brian Heinen, founder of Blockchain in Europe. It was chaired by Jurek, who outlined eight technology trends that all businesses should be paying attention to: artificial intelligence, the 5G mobile network, autonomous driving, personalised medicine, computer vision, extended reality, graphene and blockchain.

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Another panel was held on 'Applications of Artificial Intelligence'. This panel featured Sara El-Hanfy, Innovation Lead for Machine Learning and Data at Innovate UK, David Snelling, Program Director of Artificial Intelligence at Fujitsu, Charlie Robinson, Head of Startup Programmes at PwC UK, and Tim Ebenezer, Chief Digital Officer at Foundation SP.

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The final talk was led by Ross Murphy, Investment Associate at SEEDRS. Ross' talk was on the topic of 'Crowdfunding 101' and he broke down the key steps that any business considering crowdfunding should consider.

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The event was concluded by keynote speaker Yasmina Siadatan, a past winner of the BBC TV series The Apprentice. Yasmina shared her journey after winning The Apprentice and what plans she has for her career in the future.

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Attendees and panel members were extremely positive about their experiences of the Entrepreneurship Conference. Here is what some of them had to say:

Susan Elliot, independent business advisor: "It was a learning event as well as a networking event and It was interesting to hear from a diverse set of companies, from the food industry to blockchain."

Elena Dimova, Henley Business School student: "People have been really open and honest about their own journeys."

Brian Heinen, founder of Blockchain in Europe: "I found it extremely rewarding on many levels to help me wrap my mind around how to improve connecting entrepreneurship and academia and to look for real solutions."

The highlights of the Entrepreneurship Conference 2020 were caught on film. View them for yourself at this video.

The Entrepreneurship Conference is planned to return in 2021. Details of the date, timings and guest speakers will be announced in due course.

Reading Entrepreneurs can be found online at the below links:

Thanks to both Foundation SP for sponsoring the event's breaks and Thames Valley AI Hub for their patronage.

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Published 1st April 2020