Dragons’ Den Star Hails Opportunities for North East Business

Dragons’ Den Star Hails Opportunities for North East Business.
Dragons’ Den star Sara Davies hails opportunities for North East businesses. Ms Davies was speaking at an event held by the North East business group the Entrepreneurs’ Forum.

Dragons’ Den star Sara Davies has delivered an upbeat message to the North East business community as it tries to cope with the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic.

The founder of Newton Aycliffe firm Crafter’s Companion was part of a panel brought together by regional business group the Entrepreneurs’ Forum to discuss the future for entrepreneurship.

Ms Davies said that businesses in the region were well placed to build on the opportunities that had arisen from the coronavirus outbreak. She said: “I’ve been hugely encouraged by the way this region’s businesses have adapted and pivoted in response to the many challenges and uncertainties of the last eight months.

“Change always generates opportunity, even when forced upon us, and it’s the entrepreneurs who possess the right mindset and ability to think outside the box that are best placed to react. Given the response of North East business leaders, I have more confidence in the future and believe that 2021 will see a real reboot of the entrepreneurial spirit.”

She was joined on the panel by Dean Benson, founder and CEO of Stockton-based e-commerce experts Visualsoft; Richard Lane, co-founder and CEO of Newcastle-based sales consultancy durhamlane; and Dr Tim Hammond, director of commercialisation and economic development at Durham University.

Mr Benson said lessons could be learnt from the last recession, when businesses that retained the confidence to invest in sales and marketing had emerged in a much stronger position.

He said: “Entrepreneurs are agile and adaptable and as a result thrive on change. However, one of the biggest challenges is not in starting a business but in scaling it and that’s where it’s vital to surround yourself with a good team of management and staff.

“Running a business can also be very lonely and it’s also important to seek the advice and support of your peers, through an organisation like the Entrepreneurs’ Forum.”

Mr Lane said that technological changes, including cloud computing, had made starting a business much more attainable, including for many people who had come up with ideas for start-ups when on furlough.

Dr Tim Hammond referred to the Northern Accelerator, a collaboration between Durham, Newcastle, Northumberland, and Sunderland universities, which he said was improving how higher education establishments commercialise ideas from their research base.

He said: “Covid has presented many opportunities which have seen the development of new and responsive business models and innovation.

“We are pushing to get these innovative ideas out of the universities and, through Northern Accelerator, are creating collaborative solutions as well as increasing engagement with external organisations.”

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