Heather Mills has been announced as keynote speaker at this year’s EMCON event.

The announcement was made by the Engineering and Manufacturing Network (EMN) which organises EMCON.

Visionary businesswoman Heather Mills has expanded her international award-winning plant based vegan company VBites by opening two sites in the North East, which increases the presence to a total of four sites across the UK.

Ms Mills’ original manufacturing site is located in Corby, Northamptonshire, with an additional allergen free plant in Benton.

Last year VBites purchased the former Walkers Crisps factory in Peterlee and has recently added to their portfolio the Proctor and Gamble plant in Seaton Delaval, which has established VBites as the leading pioneer in plant-based foods and owning the largest related manufacturing facilities in the world totalling over 600,000 sq ft.

Ms Mills will give the keynote speech at EMCON, the flagship event for EMN, giving an insight into her entrepreneurial journey by outlining her plans for the area, why she chose to extend her vegan empire in the North East and her thoughts on the future of the business and its plans for growth.

She will also take part in this year’s industry leaders’ panel debate, organised by EMN in conjunction with Jackson Hogg Recruitment, the event’s delivery partner. The debate will include a question and answer session which enables the audience to participate.

David Land, who is Chairman of EMN, said: “There’s been a huge and understandable level of interest from the business community around the opening of the VBites manufacturing facility in Peterlee so we’re delighted to have secured Ms Mills as our keynote speaker at EMCON 2019.

“It’s a real coup for our event to secure someone of Ms Mills’ profile and will certainly generate a new level of excitement around the event.

“We’re also delighted to confirm that Ms Mills will participate in the panel debate and question and answer session over lunch. This has been a popular addition to EMCON however with Ms Mills as part of the line up, we expect tickets to be booked up very quickly as people are genuinely interested in what she has to say and her plans to grow the vegan business in our region.”

VBites is an award-winning manufacturing company which makes plant-based foods replicating 130 meat, fish and dairy products. VBites exports to 24 countries globally and has won over 80 awards.

Ms Mills is planning on bringing 200 – 300 jobs to the North East.

VBites and Ms Mills develop designs on machinery innovation in the plant-based meat and dairy and fish free sector, which Ms Mills believes is the future of food.

This year’s EMCON event is being held on Thursday, October 10, at the Xcel Centre in Newton Aycliffe. Stadler Rail UK is once again the event’s headline sponsor while Jackson Hogg Recruitment is returning as delivery partner and Business Durham maintains its gold sponsorship status.

Other sponsors include GOM and Horizonworks, which are both silver sponsors, and Lumo Tax Consultants and E-max Systems as bronze sponsors.

For more information on the 2019 event visit emcon.show.