Hundreds of delegates have converged on the Stadium of Light today as the North East automotive industry struts its stuff.
Around 340 delegates are taking part in the sell-out second North East Automotive Alliance Expo.
The event has grown significantly since its inauguration last year and has brought some of the industry's biggest names to meet the cream of the region's automotive sector.
Buyers present include representatives from Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover, Komatsu UK, Cummins UK, Nifco UK, Gestamp Tallent, Calsonic Kansei Europe, Faltec Europe and Faurecia, to make contacts and discover the products and services available in the North East.
This year’s event also features a new Technology Showcase, giving 15 businesses a platform to display their latest products, services and technologies to an audience of potential buyers.
NEAA CEO Paul Butler said: "We've got about 70 exhibitors and 350 delegates, and there are 16 buyers here today, so there are aoound 120 business to business meetings taking place.
"And we've got a new technology showcase, which is all about giving companies a platform to show off their innovative products.
"A lot of small business don't get a chance to meet larger companies and show what they can do."
Sunderland City Council deputy leader Coun Harry Trueman was delighted to see the growth in numbers from last year's first event.
"It is excellent," he said.
"The quality of the exhibitors and the increase in numbers is just tremendous. We have been talking about the role of small businesses in supporting the bigger industries and their importance in terms of the numbers of people who work for them.
"You might not be able to find a 'job for life' in manufacturing any more, but you can make your lifetime's work in manufacturing."
Jaguar Land Rover's Michael Mychajluk had made the trip from the firm's Coventry head offices after being impressed by last year's Expo.
"I came last year but spent the day upstairs in buyers' meetings." he said.
"I wanted to come this year and see the exhibitors here today. I think it's something the industry should be proud of."
Lawrence Davies, from UK Trade and Investment's Automotive Investment Organisation, said: "It is definitely bigger than last year, more people are here, which is great.2
"He was delighted to see small businesses getting the chance to showcase their new technology.
"We need more research and development," he said.
"This is the future of the automotive industry."