I’ve been to VentureFest a few times when it was at Newcastle United’s ground though this is the first time that I have ever presented. It was also the first time that I had been to the Common Room, right next door to the Lit and Phil, which I go to regularly. I have been to the cafe downstairs a couple of times however not knowing what was above. It was also the first time that I got to see and use (play?) Waterston’s risk simulation exercise called Udder Disaster. Three firsts for me then.

The theme for this year’s VentureFest was ‘Our Future Now’ and we were offered the chance to run a session with CyberNorth. We ran with the title of ‘Securing Our Future Now’ starting off with a presentation from Charlotte, Regional Cyber Protect Officer with the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit. The idea was to encourage businesses to think about risk from poor cyber security yet be aware that there is help available within the region. 

Then it was time for the games to begin. After a short explanation by Stew from Waterstons, we split up into three groups, huddled round small tables with the board game laid out. 

The idea is that each team is given some initial funding to manage a farm over a five year period. They are given a series of opportunities to increase revenue, it is primarily a dairy business, along with a list of threats and mishaps along the way. Each team has to decide how it is going to balance the risks that the business is facing against the opportunities to raise income. Each decision has its consequences and these determine how well the business will ultimately do.

It was a lot of fun and a great demonstration how games can be used to engage people in addressing important issues. While the Udder Disaster covered business risk in general there was a significant amount of cyber security in there as well. 

Even though it wasn’t a competition, our team came second. Who knew cyber security could be such fun!