A North East business festival made a successful return this month, with more than 1,000 people attending events across Sunderland.

Sunderland Business Festival, which was back for a third year, ran from October 10 – 12, with footballer turned successful entrepreneur Gary Neville headlining the event.

The former Manchester United and England fullback took part in a fire-side chat on Wednesday, October 11.

The three day festival included expert presentations, panel discussions, on the sofa chats, networking, workshops and more. Organisations which took part in the events include Tombola, Fulwell 73, Sunderland AFC, British Esports and Ocado Retail, alongside leaders from key Sunderland organisations.

The festival was organised by Sunderland Business Partnership, a collective of organisations – large and small – all with an interest in the city’s development, creating opportunities for members to collaborate and grow, which in turn helps Sunderland to be a more dynamic destination for business.

Rob Lawson, chair of Sunderland Business Partnership, said: “Sunderland Business Festival was an amazing opportunity for businesses and individuals alike to hear from great speakers, network and share ambitions for the future of Sunderland.

“The festival has gone from strength to strength since the first event in 2021 and the Sunderland Business Partnership are proud to have delivered this showcase for the city.”

The festival also showcased some of Sunderland’s great venues, including The Fire Station’s Auditorium, the Stadium of Light, The Yard, Pop Recs, Mackie’s Corner and the cutting-edge National Esports Performance Campus.

Patrick Melia, chief executive of headline sponsor of the festival Sunderland City Council, said: “It is amazing to see such levels of development and investment coming to the city of Sunderland.

“The Business Festival was a brilliant opportunity to showcase our changing city to a business audience from across the North East and show off the many ways in which the city is positively contributing to the regional economy too.”

Sunderland Business Festival was sponsored by Sunderland City Council, the University of Sunderland, BDN, Sunderland College and Creo Comms, alongside associate sponsor Portfolio North.

Professor Lawrence Bellamy, Academic Dean for the Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism at the University of Sunderland, said: “The transformation that is happening in Sunderland is truly remarkable and there’s still so much more to come.

“The festival really highlighted the reasons to be very positive about the future of the city, the career opportunities on offer to our students when they leave university and we are proud to be at the heart of that.”