PLANS are shaping up for York’s Venturefest 2014 as the lineup of speakers is announced and competitions with a £45,000 prize fund near their deadlines.

The annual exhibition, which celebrates the region’s entrepreneurial flair in science, technology and creative businesses, is to be held at York Racecourse on March 13.

The event sees the return of two competitions, the Innovation Showcase and the Investment Competition, which are both designed to support young businesses.

The Innovation showcase will see SCY, formerly Science City York, whittle entries down into a shortlist of 20 of the region’s most promising innovative young science and technology companies, who will be awarded heavily subsidised exhibition space at Venturefest.

The business with most promise will then receive more than £15,000-worth of business support to help it move forward.

In the Investment Competition, six entrepreneurs will be chosen by Yorkshire Association of Business Angels and GrowthAccelerator to present and pitch their business or idea to a group of proactive angel investors who will question the finalists on their proposition.

The winner, who will be awarded a prize package valued in excess of £30,000, will be selected in a secret ballot of voting angel investors.

Venturefest Yorkshire chairman Tony Hardy said: “Over the last decade Venturefest has supported more than 230 young science and technology businesses.

“As we see possible signs of growth in the economy we see Venturefest as the perfect place for these growing businesses to showcase their products and innovative ways of working.

“Our aim is to create an environment in which they have multiple opportunities to access advice, support, knowledge and funding.”

As well as the competitions, Venturefest is designed to deliver inspiration, advice and investment through a programme of speakers.

This year’s keynote speaker is Rohit Talwar, a global strategy adviser who helps firms to survive, thrive, spot and manage emerging risks and develop innovative growth strategies in the decade ahead.

Mr Talwar is joined on the list of speakers by Julie Kenny, chairwoman and chief executive of security system manufacturer Pyronix Limited; business and marketing professional Lyndon Nicholson; serial entrepreneur Roger Stoker, who co-founded technology businesses Capture Projects and IMtelligence; the creator of the largest privately owned store-brand pharmaceutical company in Europe, Graham Leslie, who is also the founder chairman and creator of the world’s first 25,000 all-seater stadium in Huddersfield, and health sector specialist Simon Hudson, who formed Cloud2.

Also speaking is York’s Sophie Jewett, founder of the award-winning York Cocoa House, which last year won a national Business Accelerator competition. Ms Jewett will be speaking about managing growth.

Applications close for the Innovation Showcase and Investment Competition on Friday, January 24. For more information and entry details, visit Delegates can register for their free place at the event at the same web address.