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Top economist declares smes as ‘repositories of innovation and invention’ at North East business event

Leading economist and journalist Liam Halligan praised the vision and risk taking attitude of North East entrepreneurs at a special business event in Newcastle organised jointly by Square One Law, UNW, Brewin Dolphin and Atom.

Speaking at the event, which was held at Jesmond Dene House, Mr Halligan, who writes the weekly ‘Economics Agenda’ column in the Sunday Telegraph, declared Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) as ‘repositories of innovation and invention’ that are supporting the UK’s economic recovery.

He also gave the invited audience of more than 70 leading and most influential North East business people a view on the upcoming general election and an insight into the UK and global economies.

The event also celebrated the ‘new age of the entrepreneur’ with an interview session with the owners of emerging North East businesses, which are delivering investment driven growth, led by Chairman of the Institute of Directors in the North East, Graham Robb.

Graham spoke to two young entrepreneurs, Alice Blackie, the owner of, and John Hall, who runs Capology.

Alice began her fashion business with a £90 investment in stock, half of which was provided by her Mum. Three years later,, which sells glamourous fashion wear, employs 55 people and has a turnover of £6m, which is expected to grow to £20m this year.

John Hall, along with his brother Greg, runs Capology, which sells urban-style clothing including baseballs caps, shirts and hoodies. Launched in 2012, the business, which is online at and also has a retail store in Grey Street, Newcastle, has already become the UK’s largest independent supplier of headgear in the UK.

Graham also interviewed Craig Iley from Atom who discussed the business’ plans to support North East and national businesses and create a bank that meets the requirements of the digital age.

Ian Gilthorpe, Senior Partner at Square One Law, said: “Liam’s insightful view of the UK and international economies gave our guests real food for thought in the lead up to the General Election. He was particularly complimentary of the efforts of North East businesses and their role in the economic recovery.

“The North East is a hotbed of entrepreneurial talent and a region that is very supportive of enterprise. Square One Law and now Atom have been start up businesses and UNW has gone through significant growth in the last seven years.As professional advisers we understand that we also need to be entrepreneurial in our approach to service delivery and bring increased value to our clients.”

Paul Kaiser, head of UNW’s corporate finance advisory team said: “The achievements of Alice Blackie and John Hall highlighted at our event exemplify the dedication of young entrepreneurs in our region to drive growth in their businesses through continual re-investment, which supports job creation and the positive impact of the North East on the economy.”

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