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Jane Imrie

Bdaily's Jane Imrie on her highlights of 2019

The end of 2019 is almost upon us, and what a year it’s been!

I joined the Bdaily team back in February, and since then have become well-acquainted with the SME landscape in our regions of North East, London and Yorkshire.

This year I have been lucky enough to have some brilliant opportunities, as well as connect with some fascinating entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators.

Here are some of the stand-out stories that I enjoyed covering most in 2019.

Heather Mills and VBites’ Plant-Based Valley

After finding out that Heather Mills was planning to expand the presence of her plant-based food business VBites in the North East, I decided to have a chat with her about her vision for the region and her motivations behind her vegan advocacy.

Heather’s unwavering passion for plant-based products and the environment was matched only by her commitment to the North East and the communities that stand to benefit from the creation of the VBites Plant-Based Valley.

As a follow-up, I was invited to the official launch of the Plant-Based Valley in Seaton Delaval, where Heather herself spoke about her dedication to small plant-based businesses and the opportunities that the site would provide to local workers.

Newcastle Startup Week 2019

My first experience of Newcastle Startup Week did not disappoint. The five-day event at various locations across Newcastle and Gateshead was packed full of inspirational talks and information for scaling businesses across the region, as well as the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the region’s most dynamic entrepreneurs.

I was privileged enough to cover three of the week’s events and gained valuable insights along the way.

Day Two of 2019’s Startup Week focused on practical tips for putting entrepreneurial ideas into action.

The day included talks from the likes of Brewgooder founder and CEO Alan Mahon and Sunderland Software City’s Jeni Banks.

Day Four of Startup Week looked at the realities of scaling businesses, examining international opportunities for growth.

Speakers included Sophia Stovall and Hakon Junge on Nordic-North East connections and Nadine Storey discussing opportunities in Canada.

The fifth and final day of Startup Week looked at what lies ahead for businesses, as well as looking at personal journeys and maintaining mental wellness - a nod to Mental Health Awareness Week.

Newcastle Falcons player and CEO of Storm Fitness Spencer Davey spoke about his path to entrepreneurship, and all-round ‘magic maker’, ‘space creator’ and ‘community builder’ Sarah Crimmens shared her thoughts on self-development and how to navigate the quest for mental wellbeing.

Lastly, I had the pleasure of catching up with the event’s organiser - and regional ‘super connector’ - Paul Lancaster, getting his views on how the week had gone and insights on what is to come in 2020.

Identity in the tech age with iProov founder and CEO Andrew Bud

In an era where deepfakes are becoming ever-more convincing and identity verification presents many challenges, iProov founder Andrew Bud spoke with me about how the small London firm has bagged significant government contracts in both the UK and US.

Andrew, who has been awarded a CBE in the 2020 New Year honours list, spoke to me about how his business aims to prevent ‘business tragedies’.

Andrew’s enthusiasm for his firm’s technology was evident throughout the interview, and the knowledge amassed from his decades in the industry carve him out as a knowledgeable specialist in his field.

Overall it has been a really fantastic year, and I am excited for what the new year holds. Hope you all have a great Christmas and see you in 2020!

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