Growing businesses from County Durham’s manufacturing and engineering sectors are being urged not to miss out on tapping into support from a unique exhibition programme.

The Incubator Zone is a support strand of Business Durham’s Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP), created to help new and growing micro and SMEs within the engineering and manufacturing sectors to exhibit at EMCON.

The project was added to the EMCON line-up in 2017 and has so far supported 39 firms to participate in the annual networking event, held at the Xcel Centre in Newton Aycliffe.

This year’s event in on Thursday, October 10.

Eligible companies are being sought for what could be the final year the Incubator Zone will be held, and by doing so tap into the 12-hours of support provided and the discounted exhibitor package which comes with it.

Already two companies have signed up with a further 10 expressing their interest in taking part.

Ben Gilhespy is operations director at the Engineering and Manufacturing Network (EMN) which organises EMCON. He said: “Over the last couple of years since it was introduced, the Incubator Zone programme has helped dozens of businesses to win work, or to put themselves on the radars of some of the biggest companies in the region and beyond with a view to winning contracts further down the line.

“Without doubt these are companies that wouldn’t have otherwise exhibited, either because of a lack of experience, budget constraints or an incorrect perception that the event is only for bigger companies.

“This year could be the final time the Incubator Zone programme is held, so if you do believe you would benefit now is the time to sign up – don’t miss out as the programme really could make a difference to your future growth.”

The criteria to be involved in the Incubator Zone programme is:

  • Your business must be based within County Durham
  • It must have links to the engineering and manufacturing sectors
  • Ideally employ less than 15 people
  • Have never exhibited at EMCON

For that exhibitors get a programme of support delivered by LEC Communications and Design which includes one to one and workshop support to prepare for exhibiting, marketing materials including a banner stand and flyers designed and printed, and on the day and post-event support to capitalise on the opportunities presented at EMCON.

Michael Harriott is business engagement officer with the DBOP team. He said: “This is the perfect opportunity for companies to take part in EMCON without the pressure of significant costs which are often attached to exhibiting at big events.

“And, as we know from those companies who exhibited last year and 2017, it also gives participants the chance to forge real business links which can and do lead to sizeable contracts.

“The Incubator Zone programme is a great example of how the Durham Business Opportunities Programme can help businesses find new opportunities and contacts to help their business grow.”

Hundreds of people attended last year’s event, with over 100 companies exhibiting and several themed sessions held throughout the day. Stadler Rail UK was the event’s inaugural headline sponsor with Business Durham and RM Manufacturing the gold sponsors and Jackson Hogg the delivery partner.

For more information on the 2019 event visit