COUNCIL and university leaders have sent out a rallying call for businesses across the region to collaborate, to ensure County Durham is recognised as a “great place to invest, live, and work”.

Durham County Council and Durham University hosted the Regional Business Leaders’ Summit at the Raddison Blu hotel in Durham, where delegates were told the county was “bucking the trend”.

Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “Here in County Durham we have a unique offering like no other in the country. We have positivity and momentum that has earned us more than £3.4 billion worth of planned investment, bucking the national trend.

“The county has attracted 40 multi-national investors over the past three years and we repeatedly hear from businesses that one of our biggest assets is the calibre of our people: their resilience, flexibility, and can-do attitude, and this is one of the many reasons Durham is such a great place to do business.”

Speakers included Heidi Mottram, chief executive of Northumbrian Water and vice chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

A panel discussion featured Atom Bank’s chief innovation officer, Edward Twiddy, visit County Durham chairman Ivor Stolliday and Waterstons chief executive Susan Bell and Jonathan Walker, assistant policy director at the North East Chamber of Commerce.

Delegate Allison Raper, of the award-winning Teesdale Cheesemakers, said: “Coming into this room to hear we are doing it, that we are doing great and really can really take County Durham forward in exciting ways it quite refreshing.

“As a business person, particulary when you are thinking about investing, which is where we are at the moment, hearing all this positivity makes you go away and feel more inspired to do it.”

The summit was told Durham University is a world top 100 university and contributes £1.1 billion to the UK economy, supporting nearly 14,000 jobs across the country, including £650 million and 10,000 jobs in the region alone.

The university and council have worked together for many years on projects such as Lumiere, the North East Technology Park (NETPark), Durham City Incubator and the Powered by People initiative.

This partnership was formalised last year when the two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding to raise the profile of County Durham, focussing on economic development, research, culture and heritage, place and community, and communications.

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor at Durham University, said: “We are committed to working with Durham County Council and have already made significant progress as part of our memorandum of understanding.

“The university plays an important part in the region, from working with local businesses and supporting developments such as NETPark, to encouraging start-ups and spin-outs to grow and develop their business in the local area. We look forward to working with the council to develop County Durham’s profile locally, nationally and internationally.”