Can-do businesses in the North East remain optimistic about the future and are ready to overcome challenges, the region’s largest business conference heard.
Jonathan Lamb, chief executive of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum – speaking during its Fortune Favours the Brave conference – said entrepreneurs, by their very nature are resilient and remain upbeat about the future business landscape.
He said: “There are many exciting developments and opportunities within the North East, including the emerging software and technology industry, advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences and subsea, offshore and energy technologies.
“This region has a proud history of producing world-beating innovators and industries and once again it is developing key sectors that can grow and drive the economy forward.”
He said that such optimism is reflected by a business survey that found business confidence in the North East increased three points during October.
James Robson MBE, Chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, added: “This conference is all about being brave and courageous and standing by your convictions.
“Entrepreneurs are expert at navigating the highs and lows and overcoming the inevitable challenges. That’s why North East business leaders display resilience and remain optimistic.”
An audience of more than 250 business leaders attended the conference at Wynyard Hall – one of the highlights of the Forum’s calendar of events – to hear a series of inspirational keynote speakers.
They included Chris Cathey, a director of Rivers Capital Partners and a senior training mentor for the Institute of Trading and Portfolio Management.
He was followed by Jo Fairley, who in 1991 co-founded Green & Black’s before selling the upmarket chocolate brand in 2005, now worth an estimated £100m.
Other speakers included North East businessman Phil Kite, who at 53, departed as CEO of Reece Group to found rowing team Team Tyne Innovation.
He was accompanied by Claire Hughes, part of the victorious crew who in January completed the world’s toughest row, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 42 days 10 hours and 26 minutes, a record time for a mixed four.
Additional speakers included James Brown who established Edinburgh-based online beer subscription service Beer 52, which has achieved a turnover of more than £11m.
Graham Robb, senior partner at Recognition PR, hosted a panel of young North East entrepreneurs, including Dan Martin of Elmtronics, Steve Erdal of Wordnerds, and Dan Foskett of Connection Flooring, who shared their experiences of scaling up their businesses.
The conference was compared by BBC journalist and presenter Charlie Charlton and supported by Recognition PR, Lumo.Tax, Park Commercial, FW Capital, British Business Bank and Sapere Software.