Newton Aycliffe’s Dragons’ Den star Sara Davies MBE joined 99 North-East entrepreneurs to celebrate the creation of 99 new jobs and 58 new, high growth businesses in the region.
Graduates of the High Potential Startups business accelerator programme – delivered by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) – the entrepreneurs joined Sara at a celebratory event, at Crowne Plaza Newcastle, with members of the wider North East business and startup community.
Of the pre-start entrepreneurs that joined the programme in the thick of the pandemic, 25 have already begun trading and a further 33 have incorporated new businesses.
To date, the new businesses have generated £2.7m in turnover and created 99 new jobs across the region.
Sara – founder of Aycliffe-based Crafter’s Companion, pictured above with North East LEP’s Ammar Mirza and some of the entrepreneurs – said: “As someone who has started and grown a business from scratch, I know how long and difficult the journey can be.
“It’s been so inspiring to meet the High Potential Startups entrepreneurs and hear how the programme has helped them build their own high growth businesses.
“Encouraging and nurturing business startups is vital for a growing economy, so it’s great to see my home region flying the flag for entrepreneurship. I wish every single business all the success for the future.”
Colin Bell, business and sector growth director at the North East LEP, said: “Having a great business idea, and then turning that idea into a reality, are two very different things.
“High Potential Startups was created to help entrepreneurs in our region really focus their ideas, and then with the help of industry experts, take their business to market.
“Starting a business can be an intimidating prospect, especially in the middle of one of the most disruptive times in modern history, but through High Potential Startups we were able to support participants to build robust and resilient business models, understand their customers, fill skills gaps, truly understand their business finance needs, and build the confidence required to step over the line and start their own business.
“The result has been the creation of 58 new, ambitious, and high growth North East startup businesses, and 99 new jobs.”
Some of the businesses that took part in High Potential Startups include South Shields-based OGEL, which has created the only patented building system in the world that uses recycled plastic.
OGEL founder, Gary Giles, went on to appear on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, securing investment offers from two of the Dragons, including Sara.
Clothing brand Saint Belle, created by Northumbria University graduate Isabella Dryden, is now stocked in Fenwick and will launch a new children’s wear collection in 2022.