County Durham new starts, micro firms and growing SMEs are targeting new business leads after booking their place at this year’s Oktoberfest.

As part of plans to encourage smaller companies to be part of the event, there will be a dedicated Incubator Zone for those companies who have never before exhibited.

Already 18 companies from across the county have booked their stand while 12 of them have taken part in support workshops, funded by ERDF through Business Durham’s Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) to prepare them for the manufacturing and engineering expo.

One of them is Baseline Technology in Peterlee, a family run company which supplies, repairs, services and maintains analytical equipment for the chromatography industry.

Business Development Manager Jonathan Humble said: “We’re delighted to have been given this opportunity to exhibit at Oktoberfest, and the fact we’re getting so much support to prepare us for it is even better. Our aim now is to make new connections with companies that we could potentially work with in the future.”

Now, due to the popularity of the Incubator Zone, a few more stands within the Incubator Zone have been made available, however, because of the support package that comes with it, time is running out to book.

The criteria to exhibit is that the companies must:

  • Be based in County Durham
  • Be a micro firm or growing SME
  • Have proven links to the manufacturing and engineering sectors
  • Actively looking to grow

Tanfield-based Protocol Engineering is another company to have booked up. Production Manager Ian Arnold said: “This is the ideal opportunity for us to broaden our network and showcase our services to companies that we might otherwise have not had the chance to meet.”

Neighbouring firm SK Plastics have also signed up. Owner Ken Stephenson said: “We’d never have been able to exhibit at an event like this but through this programme we are which is great. We’re certainly looking to make new leads and win new business and the workshop was the ideal chance for me to learn more about selling the business to potential new clients.”

Other confirmed exhibitors are Steadfast Storage, Harbro Electrical, Concision, Protech City, Sagetech Machinery, Moralbox (Novus Seaham tenant), Shred Direct, Horizon PPS, JSB Enterprises, Aerial Quality Solutions and Quality Hydraulics.

David Land, Chairman of the County Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Network (CDEMN), which organises Oktoberfest, said: “The Incubator Zone is perfect for new starts and growing micro firms within the engineering and manufacturing sectors, who want to raise their profile and meet potential new clients but have been unable to exhibit at Oktoberfest in the past either due to a lack of budget, experience or man-power.”

Businesses must be able to demonstrate a link to the engineering and manufacturing sectors, whether that’s through the products they make or services they supply, or that their current client base includes employers within these sectors.

The Incubator Zone is being delivered by LEC Communications and Design (Novus Peterlee tenant) as part of DBOP, a programme created to support business growth in sectors including creative, digital, childcare and innovation.

If you think you’re eligible email or

The Incubator Zone is one of a number of themed elements of this year’s Oktoberfest event – the tenth since the event was launched in 2008 – including an Education Zone for budding engineers to meet employers, the University of Sunderland AMAP North East Maintenance Forum and a rail opportunities session held in partnership with the Rail Alliance.

Ben Gilhespy, Operations Director at CDEMN, said: “The themed workshops were introduced last year in response to feedback from attendees and proved immensely popular.

“The event celebrates its tenth birthday this year and we’re pulling out all the stops to ensure it’s our best yet. Oktoberfest is the perfect platform to showcase the North East’s vast capabilities within the engineering and manufacturing sectors; introduce businesses to potential clients and suppliers; and through the workshops give them a unique insight into areas that could support their growth.”

Alongside Business Durham, global rail manufacturer Stadler has also come on board as a gold sponsor, and Nigel Wright Recruitment is an associate partner.

To find out more visit the website,

Durham Oktoberfest is also pleased to announce that on the evening of the event the regional Made in the North East awards hosted by Insider Media will be held at Redworth Hall Hotel. Businesses attending Oktoberfest are actively encouraged to get involved and promote their success by registering for one of the awards on offer. For more information visit