LYNN Shepherd, executive chairwoman of Venturefest Oxford, is to step down from her role after presiding over one last showcase for innovation.

Venturefest Oxford is the county’s premier networking event for entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and other like-minded people, and this year is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Wednesday, September 12 at Oxford Brookes University.

It also marks the last event with Mrs Shepherd, the current executive chairwoman, at the helm.

She is stepping down after four years and five Venturefests.

Mrs Shepherd joined Venturefest in 2014 on retiring from her role as director of communications at Oxford Instruments.

She said: “I didn’t want to retire completely and Venturefest offered me the perfect opportunity to maximise my skills and experience.

“It hasn’t disappointed and I have enjoyed the last four years immensely.

“I feel very proud that the Venturefest Oxford brand has continued to thrive and grow and our events continue to be so popular and so well supported by the whole enterprise community in Oxfordshire.”

She added that the next Venturefest was shaping up to be the best yet.

Mrs Shepherd said: “We will be in the new buildings on Oxford Brookes’ Headington Campus, and will be showcasing the amazing cutting edge technology taking place around the county.

“I am very excited and just know it will be a fitting 20th celebration and the perfect swansong!”

Prof Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes and a long-standing board member of Venturefest Oxford, said: “I was sorry to hear that Lynn would be stepping down as chair as she has done such a tremendous job over the last four years.

“Venturefest continues to go from strength to strength and is an important catalyst for the innovation, investment and entrepreneurism taking place across the county and beyond.”

Prof Fitt added: “I have no doubt that the event in September will be the biggest and best networking opportunity yet for business and innovators.

“It will be a fitting tribute to the commitment and expertise Lynn has brought to the role and I wish her every success for the future.

“I am proud that Oxford Brookes University will be hosting this year’s event and our inspirational buildings will be the perfect setting for driving forward new advances and partnerships.”

Each year business teams make eye-catching pitches to potential investors.

Last year edible insects and twin robots were on the menu as a team from Oxford Brookes unveiled their insect-based treats.

Robots which help computer and technology students at Brookes learn to program software were on show.

Venturefest Oxford has previously been held at the King’s Centre conference venue in Osney Mead, West Oxford.

Its switch to Oxford Brookes follows the same move made this year by the Oxfordshire Business Awards, which staged its annual awards ceremony in June in the award-winning John Henry Brookes Building.

The Venturefest board is currently looking to appoint a new executive chairman or chairwoman and more information on the role can be found at

To find out more about the Venturefest20 event on September 12 visit the website where you can see the programme, including a list of speakers and exhibitors, and buy tickets. Tickets cost £25 each.