What a night!

The very best North East business - and the amazing people who lead them - have had a fantastic celebration at Ramside Hall for the inaugural BUSINESSiQ Awards.

In eleven categories last night, we named the companies large and small that have made the biggest difference to our region as the business landscape changes so quickly.

Among the top awards, tech experts razorblue won Business of the Year and Wilton Group legend Bill Scott was named Inspirational Leader of the Year.

Hosted by the legendary Alfie Joey and with a keynote speech from North East business icon Sara Davies, there were cheers, glasses raised and so many rounds of applause as all of the winners were announced.

Our host Alfie Joey applauded the positivity in the room, telling the guests at Ramside Hall: "As a lad from County Durham, I am proud of this event tonight. Proud of what you do for this great county. Proud of what the Northern Echo does for this great county. And to see you join forces at an event like this ...well it is the weapon-grade positivity that we need right now!"

During her keynote speech Strictly and Dragons' Den star Sara, who founded Crafter's Companion said: "The North East has always been a fantastic hub for entrepreneurs and new businesses and I'm glad that with so much opportunity on the horizon, this has been recognised and embraced."

Darlington and Stockton Times: Sara Davies at the award ceremonySara Davies at the award ceremony (Image: TOM BANKS)


The full list of winners was:

Diversity and Inclusion: PD Ports

Export Champion: Beanies The Flavour Ltd

Innovation Award: Exis Technologies

Net Zero Award: TCR The Hub

New Business of the Year: Wootzano Ltd

Community Impact Award: REfUSE Cafe

Creative Business of the Year: Double11

Employee Health and Wellbeing Award: Atom Bank

Training and Skills Award: Tees Components

Business of the Year: Razorblue

Inspirational leader of the year: Bill Scott

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Northern Echo editor, Gavin FosterThe Northern Echo editor, Gavin Foster (Image: TOM BANKS)

Northern Echo Editor Gavin Foster told the audience: "The BusinessIQ brand is about championing the incredible businesses in our region and telling the story of why the North East is a fantastic place to invest in.   

"The creation of these awards was a natural extension of this – a chance to recognise and reward all the amazing work that goes. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: Some of the guests gathered just before the awardsSome of the guests gathered just before the awards (Image: TOM BANKS)

"Despite the challenges we are all facing – we were blown away by the innovation, creativity, skill, drive and determination in the nominations that left us in no doubt that, despite the difficulties ahead, this region has all the foundations to build a bright future."

Look out for full coverage of all the winners online and in a supplement free with The Northern Echo on Wednesday.