A North East business festival made a successful return in October, with hundreds attending events across Sunderland.

Sunderland Business Festival, which was back for a second year, ran from October 12 – 14 and included sessions with industry experts, panel discussions, ‘on the sofa’ talks, a jobs fair and behind the scenes tours of some of the city’s biggest employers.

Speakers at the festival included North East born entrepreneur Heather Mills; Leo Pearlman from Fulwell73, the production company behind shows such as Friends: The Reunion; Dame Irene Hays from national travel agent Hays Travel; Alice Rowen Hall who founded Pink Boutique and now runs Rowen Homes and Kristjaan Speakman and Steve Davison from Sunderland AFC, 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.

Ellen Thinnesen, chair of Sunderland Business Partnership and chief executive Education Partnership North East, which includes Sunderland College, 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.

“After last year’s virtual festival, it was great to be back in-person, celebrating Sunderland’s vibrant and growing business community.”

The festival also showcased some of Sunderland’s great venues, including The Fire Station’s Auditorium, the Stadium of Light, 1719 and Mackie’s Corner.

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, the North East BIC, Sunderland AFC and 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.”

To learn more about the Sunderland Business Partnership, visit the website https://sunderlandbusinesspartnership.co.uk/ or follow @sunderlandBP on Twitter.