The Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO) was delighted to host the very first Venturefest Mobile Hub at its unique, world-class centre for rail innovation – the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC) – on Wednesday 15 November.

The event, which was organised by Venturefest West Midlands and supported by Dudley Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority, brought local manufacturing businesses and innovators together with business leaders and support organisations to help spark innovation and collaboration.

The event was held in the centre’s recently launched Meeting and Events Spaces, utilising both the 130-seater Auditorium and the Exhibition Hall for presentations, panel sessions and networking.

Session 1. Are you supply chain ready?

In Session 1, a panel of experts from local manufacturers Thomas Dudley, testing specialists Darvick and business growth advisers Innovate UK EDGE discussed their businesses’ supply chain journeys and offered advice on how Dudley manufacturers and innovators could get into the supply chain and access new markets.

Session 2. Supporting your supply chain journey

In Session 2, delegates heard about a range of business support opportunities available through Business Growth West Midlands, and from manufacturing and supply chain specialists from the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance.

BCIMO also took to the stage to share details about its Clean Futures Accelerator programme and soon-to-be-launching Commercial Investment Hub and Catalyst support eco-system.

Following the conference, a drinks reception was held and a tour of BCIMO’s Meeting and Event Spaces was provided by Helena Davies, BCIMO’s Events Manager.

The event was the first time Venturefest has taken its leading innovation conference series outside of Birmingham. The organisation is best known for hosting its annual exhibition and Pitch Up, where entrepreneurs pitch directly to investors in front of a live audience. The next event in the Mobile Hub series will take place in Coventry in March 2024.

Discussing the Venturefest Mobile Hub event, Neil Fulton, Chief Executive Officer of the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation, said:

“I’m absolutely delighted that BCIMO was chosen as the venue for the first Venturefest Mobile Hub in the series. The event provided a valuable platform for local manufacturers and innovators to connect, share insights, and explore new opportunities in the supply chain landscape. We are proud to have facilitated this initiative, and it aligns perfectly with our ongoing commitment to support innovation and collaboration in the local area.

Neil added:

“We were also pleased to use the occasion as an opportunity to provide attendees with an exclusive tour of our brand-new meeting and event spaces, which are now available for hire.”

Organiser of the event, Simon Spink, was thrilled with how the event went, saying:

“We were extremely pleased to hold the first Venturefest Mobile Hub at the BCIMO with the support of Dudley Council. This is a new format that builds on the core ideas of Venturefest WM with the focus to engage with local ecosystems. And the VLRNIC was the perfect venue to both engage with local businesses and showcase the region.

It was a truly inspiring afternoon, bringing together businesses, entrepreneurs, universities, and specialist support providers to discuss and hear about challenges and opportunities around innovation in supply chains, and to network, connect and collaborate.

A shout-out to the brilliant team from Dudley Council and BCIMO that helped organise the event and take the idea of the Venturefest Mobile Hub from concept to reality!”

Councillor Paul Bradley, deputy leader of Dudley Council who are a delivery partner for Business Growth West Midlands, said:

“Venturefest is one of the biggest names in business networking in our region and I’m delighted they selected Dudley as the place to launch their Mobile Hub series of events.

It demonstrates the level of confidence in Dudley manufacturers and their drive to innovate and was the perfect occasion to showcase the ambition and creativity present in our borough.

The event provided a fantastic opportunity to exchange ideas, establish new connections with other businesses, and learn more about the wide range of support on offer from Business Growth West Midlands and other organisations.”

Dudley Council’s contribution has been funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

For more updates on events, funding and opportunities for businesses in Dudley borough, sign up to the Dudley Business First e-bulletin.

For more information on BCIMO please visit our website or contact us to make an enquiry.


BCIMO is a not-for-profit Research and Technology Organisation (RTO) and operator of the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC), a unique, world-class centre for rail innovation based in Dudley in the West Midlands.

BCIMO Project Funders

Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre
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