How did UMi make it easier for VentureFest to go virtual?

VentureFest North East is an annual innovation conference, usually attracting 800 delegates to a full day of innovation inspiration, workshops, and finance opportunities at Newcastle upon Tyne’s St James’ Park.  

The event, which had been scheduled to take place in November 2020, was pushed back by organisers, the Innovation SuperNetwork, in response to COVID-19 restrictions. They sought an online delivery method to bring together the complex event.  

Organised with the same level of ambition as a live event, attracting high-profile national speakers and delivering parallel sessions throughout the day, the Innovation SuperNetwork had a number of objectives and challenges that UMi’s solution needed to meet and overcome to support the successful delivery of the conference online.  


The objectives were to: 

  • ensure dynamic and interactive delivery to engage and retain delegates 
  • enable valuable connections to be made by delegates 
  • provide opportunities for partners to fulfil their objectives – for example exhibition, networking, or other means 
  • deliver an interactive Innovation Showcase 
  • successfully deliver parallel sessions with an easy to navigate and intuitive interface for delegates 
  • have the capacity to support 40+ speakers throughout the course of the day 
  • deliver an interactive exhibition 
  • support over 400 delegates online 
  • deliver value for money from an online events platform 
  • be able to measure engagement to report on delegate attendance  

Transferring this complex, well-known event to an online format required a solution that would give the Innovation SuperNetwork team the freedom to concentrate on their stakeholders and the event content on the day. 

UMi provided a managed online event service and platform to support the Innovation SuperNetwork team in preparing for and delivering the conference.  

With information provided by the Innovation SuperNetwork team, UMi got the OnAir platform ready for the big day, with branding and communications set up in advance. On the day, UMi managed all production aspects, including speaker liaison, delegate communications and technical support. Following the event, the team provided a detailed analysis of the event, reporting on the key objectives that the Innovation SuperNetwork needed. 

“It was a very positive experience! We felt in safe hands throughout and had direct contact to the team at UMi, who were excellent at project managing the process to prepare the platform and ensure we captured the correct data. We are ERDF-funded and so we must report on delegate attendance in full. The platform offered a great solution for this with time stamps and the ability to track attendance at the different sessions. 

“The platform was flexible enough to brand and display content that enabled delegates to navigate around intuitively. It was also responsive to the inclusion of various types of video content, which really brought the event to life online.  

“The event went very smoothly on the day and 80% of delegates who responded to our post-event survey rated the platform good, very good or excellent.   

“We were very happy to attract 452 attendees to our first online VentureFest, which equated to a 64% attendance rate from the 707 registrations. 

“Given the circumstances, VentureFest North East 2021 translated well as an online event and this was in no small part down to UMi’s help in delivering the conference. The platform enabled much of the desired interactivity and was intuitive, garnering positive feedback from delegates on the day. 

“It has given us confidence to be able to deliver future events online or as part of a hybrid model.” 

Jenny Forrester, Events Manager 


VentureFest North East post-event survey results showed:  

  • 83% would recommend VentureFest to a friend or colleague 
  • 81% rated the overall event good/very good/excellent 
  • 64% recorded a financial benefit to attending (e.g. new contracts, funding, efficiency savings)