COUNTY Durham’s most promising start-ups are set to gain an unparalleled opportunity to receive first-hand support and advice from a host of successful business owners and entrepreneurs from across the region at the third annual Durham Ambitious Business Start-ups (DABS) Festival of Enterprise, sponsored by Swinburne Maddison.

Taking place on Thursday, October 13, at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham, the event will be hosted by broadcast journalist and presenter Charlie Charlton and will bring together like-minded people from across the region, offering entrepreneurial inspiration from leading industry experts and a range of exciting keynote speakers.

The theme of this year’s event – New Start-Ups in a New World – will focus on entrepreneurs who have pivoted their business model to take opportunities in the new economic environment post-pandemic.

The Northern Echo: Sarah Slaven, managing director of Business DurhamSarah Slaven, managing director of Business Durham (Image: Business Durham)

“We are delighted to be hosting the Festival of Enterprise for a third year,” said Sarah Slaven, managing director at Business Durham.

“In this post-pandemic era, new businesses need to be more innovative and agile than ever before. DABS is a unique programme to equip ambitious new entrepreneurs to tackle these challenges.

“I encourage anyone who has an idea for a new business or who is in the early stages of their business journey, to come along to the festival and connect with our DABS and Business Durham teams to find out about the extensive support that is available in County Durham”.

DABS is an ERDF-funded programme which helps high-quality start-ups in County Durham begin trading and offers premium quality support during those critical first 12 months in business.

There are two support packages available – one for pre-start businesses with a great idea and the other for early stage businesses.

The programme is delivered by Business Durham with key partners TEDCO, UMi and Candle Digital.

Nicki Clark OBE, chief executive at UMi added: “At a time when businesses of all sizes are seeking the best advice, insight and knowledge to help navigate the many challenges that exist as well as opportunities, the DABS Festival of Enterprise provides an unmissable opportunity for start-up owners and entrepreneurs to gain strategic support and make connections to help grow their business”.

Speakers confirmed for the event include:

  • Bradley Jensen, co-founder of Jensen & Jensen;
  • Jack Sutcliffe, CEO and founder of Power Sheds;
  • Jeni Smith – founder of NetKno;
  • Danielle Phillips, founder and principal consultant, Inside Out Communications Consulting;
  • Gillian Smellie, owner and CEO, Gillian Smellie Eco Print Textiles;
  • Kimberley Cattin – CEO, West Barn Co.

What is Durham Ambitious Business Start-ups?

DURHAM Ambitious Business Start-ups (DABS) is a programme set up by Business Durham to help launch successful new businesses in County Durham. DABS helps high-quality start-ups in County Durham start trading and offers premium quality support to those who have started up in business in the last 12 months.

The DABS Programme offers eligible businesses expert-led workshops, group sessions, monthly networking events and one-to-one support and mentoring. Joining the Durham Ambitious Business Start-ups (DABS) programme enables businesses to:

• Turn business ideas into a real blueprint to action;

• Expand and use business networks;

• Access business specialists with a wealth of knowledge and experience;

• Access the DABS jobs grant fund and start-up funding.

Since the launch of the programme in early 2020, Durham Start-Ups has helped hundreds of people through the early stages of running a business.

Anyone interested in attending the Festival of Enterprise can book their place by visiting

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