One of the highlights of the North’s engineering calendar, Durham Oktoberfest, now in its ninth year, has been hailed as a success by its organisers.
Manufacturers from across County Durham gathered at the Xcel Centre in Newton Aycliffe to display their goods and services, network, and listen to industry experts. The event, which was organised by County Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Network and supported by Business Durham, the county’s economic development company, also included representatives of the region’s education sector.
The highlight of the event was a panel discussion of North East industry and business experts. The speakers were Tom Dower, principal of the new University Technical College at Newton Aycliffe, Matt Atkinson, commercial director of Nine Software, Colin Bell, business growth director at the North East LEP, Roger O’Brien, director of AMAP at the University of Sunderland, Graeme Parkin, managing director of Dyer Engineering. It was chaired by Steven Hugill, Business Editor of the Northern Echo.
David Land – Chair of County Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Network said: “Oktoberfest is something that’s been running for nine years now, it has a good reputation, we’re trying to enhance that reputation, make it sticky and have it here for another ten years.
“The exhibitors are pleased because we’ve got a steady footfall. A lot of them have had two or three enquires already within the first hour and a half to two hours. We’ve got good examples, in the past, companies have made big contracts.”
Andrea McGuigan, Business Development Manager at Business Durham said: “We feel that engineering manufacturing is really important to the economy and as Business Durham is part of Durham County Council, it’s one of our key priorities. We’re keen supporters of the exhibition and we’re keen supporters of working with companies on their supply chain.
“A highlight is to see so many engineering manufacturing exhibition members here but also to have people like Tesla, bringing their cars, the cars of the future. Also just to hear the buzz of the exhibition, to see so many new people joining us. With the launch of County Durham Engineering Manufacturing Network last year, it’s actually brought everybody together. “
Anna Steel of Altec Engineering said: “Compared to other conferences that we’ve been to recently it’s actually making more of an impact already, we’ve collected a lot of business cards and it’s good to network with other exhibitors as well. There are a lot of exhibitors that we would work with and we have worked with so it’s good to see them and get those connections made. It’s about networking and seeing visitors as well so there are two sides to it definitely.
“It’s a lot busier than last year. There are a lot more people talking about current issues like the apprenticeship levy, we’ve got people discussing Brexit, just what people are feeling in the industry at the minute. That’s the main difference I think from last year.”