SOME of the North East’s most influential business figures will debate the hot topics affecting the engineering and manufacturing sectors at this year’s Durham Oktoberfest on October 20.

For the first time, a panel debate and audience question and answer session has been added to the Oktoberfest line-up.

Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to discuss the engineering and manufacturing industry with some of the region’s leading figures.

The panel will be headed up by Liz Mayes, regional director of manufacturers’ group EEF and will also feature:

  • Tom Dower, principal of the new University Technical College at Newton Aycliffe
  • Matt Atkinson, commercial director of software firm Nine Works
  • Colin Bell, business growth director at the North East LEP
  • Roger O’Brien, director of AMAP at the University of Sunderland; and
  • Graeme Parkin, managing director of Dyer Engineering

Among the topics that will come under the spotlight will be the decision to leave the EU; the Northern Powerhouse; the region’s export capabilities; the skills gap and how industry and educational institutions can work together; and the challenges and opportunities regional engineering and manufacturing companies are facing.

Liz Mayes said: “There are challenges, but North East businesses also have some great opportunities ahead. Our sector is highly innovative, which is why we are seeing developments such as servitisation, greater supply chain collaboration and the advent of 4IR all coming on at a pace. With the right support our region’s manufacturers will be well-placed to take advantage.

“Durham Oktoberfest is the perfect platform to debate some of these hot topics and for the panel of experts to offer their views on what our region’s businesses should be doing to either combat or capitalise on them.”

The panel discussion and question and answer session will be facilitated by CDEMN chairman David Land.

David Land said: “As well as offering attendees the opportunity to network and meet potential clients and suppliers, we want Oktoberfest to give them a better understanding of the issues which could impact on their business, whether that’s in a positive or negative way.

“The panel line-up brings together business experts who are perfectly placed to offer advice and opinion and we hope members of the audience come armed with some tough questions for them to tackle.”

Durham Oktoberfest 2016 takes place on Thursday, October 20, at the Xcel Centre in Newton Aycliffe. For find out more visit