The New Year brings with it not only a sense of optimism but new opportunities for North East entrepreneurs.

That’s the upbeat message from Jonathan Lamb, the chief executive of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, who believes the new decade ushers in the prospect of continued innovation and growth.

He said: “The end of the year offers an appropriate time to reflect on the past 12 months and to look forward with confidence to the year ahead. 2019 has undoubtedly been a period of both economic and political confusion, resulting in a need for certainty and clarity for businesses in the North East.

“Yet through it all, our members have powered through, displaying great tenacity and resilience as they continue to make a significant contribution to this region’s economy and employment levels.

“I look forward to seeing many of our members making a real impact in 2020 as they continue to innovate, disrupt and grow – most notably in the retail and environmental sectors and through the development of smart productivity.

“The retail world is transforming before our eyes and many of this region’s entrepreneurs are leading the market by responding to the considerable challenges by balancing and developing their online and offline presence.

“Environmental sustainability is another key area that has risen to prominence in the past year, moving from corporate social responsibility to a business priority – with many entrepreneur-led SMEs leading the way in the development of low carbon technologies.

“Additionally, some of our members are heavily involved in the electronic vehicle and energy monitoring markets, two major initiatives in the UK’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

“The North East continues to prove smart investment in technology does lead to improved performance. Digitising procurement, manufacturing processes, distribution and support already offers our members great opportunities and I look forward to seeing many becoming market leaders over the next 12 months.

“Over a quarter of the Forum’s members trade overseas and I expect this figure to increase as plans are unveiled to develop new export markets and expand existing foreign markets.

“Finally, many believe the offshore wind industry is of generational importance to the North East – which already possesses an industry-leading supply chain cluster – as the demand for green energy continues to grow.

“The North East has some amazing businesses and plays a key role in nurturing and developing scale-up businesses, which are vital to the future prosperity of the UK.

“The new decade brings with it an air of optimism and I’m confident that in the next twelve months we will see more success stories for our members, from appointments to investments, resulting in stronger businesses and a powerful regional economy.”