Twenty-one companies from across County Durham have booked their place at the inaugural Durham Oktoberfest Incubator Zone.

The companies, who are either core engineers and manufacturers or directly supply products or services to the industry, will join 100 other exhibitors at next week’s expo.

The Incubator Zone has been created as part of plans to encourage smaller companies to be part of the event and is aimed at those who have never before exhibited.

Working with the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) and with ERDF funding assistance, we have ensured a support package has been provided to help these new business exhibit with confidence. Training and advice has also been provided, which included workshops to prepare them for the event and marketing materials including banner stands, flyers and business cards to help them promote their business.

One of the companies that has booked up is bespoke box manufacturer JSB Enterprises, who are based at Coundon near Bishop Auckland.

Owner Jan Barrons said: “Now is the perfect time for us to look at new markets and raise our profile to potential customers, so we’re very much looking forward to our first Oktoberfest experience as an Incubator Zone exhibitor.”

Another participating company is Baseline Technology in Peterlee, a family run firm 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.”

Tanfield-based Protocol Engineering is also exhibiting. 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 is another company involved. 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.”

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 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.”

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

Lisa Wall, Business Engagement Officer at DBOP said: “County Durham has a thriving engineering and manufacturing business community and Durham Oktoberfest offers an excellent opportunity for firms in the area to receive help and support.

“The Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) is working to link companies to opportunities that can help them grow, such as new contracts, suppliers and investment. The Incubator Zone is one way that DBOP is working with County Durham companies and it’s great to see the Zone full of businesses from the area.

“The DBOP team will be on hand throughout the day to offer advice on business opportunities and can also hold regular drop in sessions around the county.”

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 and Business Durham.

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.

The full list of Incubator Zone exhibitors is:

  • JSB Enterprises –  Baseline Technology  –  Protocol Engineering  –  SK Plastics
  • Ascarii –  Nusafe  – Steadfast Storage  – Harbro Electrical  – Retroflo  – M5tec
  • Bespoke Electrical Limited – Concision  – Protech City  – Sagetech Machinery
  • Seaham Saefty Services – Moralbox  – Shred Direct  – Horizon PPS
  • Aerial Quality Solutions – Emotional Intelligence  – Quality Hydraulics.