MORE than £1billion of opportunities will be on offer to innovators and start-ups at an event next week.

#VFS21: Festival of Innovation, the fifth annual event from the Venturefest South programme, is on Thursday, October 21, at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.

Event partner the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), an agency of the Ministry of Defence, will be highlighting the £1bn available for UK science and technology research over the next four years.

Other partners will be unveiling a raft of support, funding and investment opportunities.

Ed Gould, creative director at Carswell Gould and #VFS21 partner said: “Venturefest South proudly showcases all that is great about the South’s innovation ecosystem.

“At a time when looking forward rather than back is essential for economic prosperity, we are delighted that VFS partners are able to announce these great funding and support opportunities at the VFS21: Festival of Innovation. If you have an idea for a business or you’re already running one, this event is a must.”

Funding and research and development specialist Catax is offering support over the estimated £16bn in tax credits owed to businesses.

John Challen, research and development director at Catax, said: “The average R&D tax credit claim for companies in the south-east was worth £104,000 in 2019/20, whereas in the south-west that fell to just £55,000. The risk is that many businesses are under-claiming and thousands more eligible firms aren’t claiming at all, so we are offering all delegates support so they can find out if they have money owed.”

BAE Systems’ Innovation Labs will be inviting delegates to explore partnering and funding opportunities on joint interests.

The University of Southampton is offering funded support for collaborative research and development and delivering innovation projects for local businesses.

The University of Portsmouth will offer access to initiatives including its Creative and Immersive Extended Reality Centre and Centre for Enzyme Innovation.

Portsmouth City Council’s economic growth team will provide business support for start-ups through to growing business.

Other partners and sponsors will offer support, guidance and funding, including Solent University, Fareham College, Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, Carswell Gould and Greentech South.

New to the event this year is the Navigating Net Zero event with Maritime UK Solent, which will bring together some of the region’s leading businesses to explore new routes to net zero.

Details, together with live and hybrid tickets, are at