INSPIRATIONAL global brands joined more than 400 local business delegates to share expertise at VentureFest Tees Valley at Wynyard Hall on Tuesday.

Brands included Vodafone UK, where Sarah McCann, head of contact transformation and optimisation, delivered a session on building better customer relationships through artificial intelligence and smart technology.

She said: “Technology increasingly gives brands the opportunity to interact with customers and clients more efficiently and effectively.

“The expectation that queries should be resolved quickly and via a range of platforms presents businesses with customer satisfaction and retention challenges that can be solved by the adoption of smart tech, chatbots and increasingly AI.

“At Vodafone, we’re continuously questioning how effective our customer relationship processes are and introducing new ways of interacting with customers.”

Mark Chapman, engineering director of The Bloodhound Project, the 1,000mph world land-speed record attempt encouraged the audience to question everything, take part in open innovation projects and adopt new ideas from other sectors.

He said: “Bloodhound is a truly collaborative project that constantly tests, and causes us to rethink, the approach we’re taking to reach our goal of building the ultimate jet and rocket powered car.

“We’ve taken the best tools and ideas from the automotive and aerospace industries and showcased them in this supersonic car. Because Bloodhound is bespoke and pushing technology to the known limits, there’s real opportunity for the innovations we’re demonstrating to be reapplied in commercial sectors and adopted by engineers working in many other fields.

“I hope the message delegates take away with them, is that it doesn’t matter what sector you’re working in, we can all learn from each other’s successes and failures.”

Sharon Lane, managing director of Tees Components, spoke about the challenges and opportunities of growing a global business from Teesside. Tim Ryan from life sciences company Epigem, discussed the journey to access international market share.

Steph Morris from Innovate UK gave an overview of the national innovation landscape, while Bill Morrow, the founder of Angels Den, provided an insight into working with investors. Mark Wilcockson from the British Business Bank shed light on how to access the £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

Simon Green, director of VentureFest Tees Valley, said: “VentureFest centres on bringing together innovators, experts and businesses who wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet.

“Our speakers have provided an inspirational backdrop against which we hope many new connections and conversations were started. We’re very much looking forward to hearing about some of the success to come from VentureFest Tees Valley in the coming weeks and months.”