SUNDERLAND is launching its first business festival, to celebrate the companies based in the city and the career opportunities they create for local people.

City of Sunderland Business Festival will take place between October 4 and 8 and will be delivered by Sunderland Business Partnership – a collective of more than 50 businesses from or with an interest in Sunderland – and sponsored by Sunderland City Council.

The Festival will combine in-person events with virtual sessions, roundtables and talk-ins to bring to life the vibrant business scene in the area.

A series of themed panel discussions will explore how Sunderland’s business landscape is growing and changing, and events aimed at residents – including Bridges Means Business, a week-long event in the Bridges shopping centre - will support residents to land their dream job or take the leap into self-employment.

Chair of Sunderland Business Partnership, Ellen Thinnesen, who is also chief executive of Education Partnership North East which includes Sunderland College, said: “This will be a unique, engaging and vibrant festival, that will inspire both our businesses and our residents.

“Sunderland is an ambitious city and through this Festival, we will showcase the amazing businesses that call it home, as well as ensuring that our residents are connected to the opportunities they create to provide rewarding careers for them and their family.”

Leading experts and opinion formers regionally, nationally and globally, will be part of the line-up for business-focused events, while residents attending the Recruitment Fair at the Stadium of Light will be supported with information on training options, job opportunities and guidance.

There will also be a lively line-up of sessions at the Bridges shopping centre, including speed careers 'dating', an entrepreneurs day and a spotlight on homegrown businesses which started life as a hobby and have become hugely successful.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, headline sponsor of the event which will culminate in the Foundation of Light’s 20th anniversary dinner on Friday, October 8, said: “Sunderland is transforming, and with that we’re seeing more and better job opportunities for local people and an increasingly dynamic economy where businesses support and encourage each other.”