The NEC Group has pulled out of running Breakfast Connection - leaving its two former partners to find a new venue.

However, a new event called the Big Debate is planned to take place at the the ICC from 2006.

The move comes as the NEC group - the ICC's parent body - takes a fresh look at a range of issues under chief executive Andrew Morris, who took over this year from Barry Cleverdon.

Breakfast Connection - one of the region's best-known networking events - has been held at the Birmingham city centre venue since 1992, but over recent months, numbers attending have dropped to around 200 from a high of up to 450.

Last week organisers NEC Group, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Birmingham Forward held a crunch meeting to thrash out a battleplan.

A joint statement afterwards said: "The three partners in Breakfast Connection are all in agreement that networking opportunities remain an important and valuable part of business life in the city, but that there is also now a real need for serious agenda-shifting debate.

"Breakfast Connection will continue, but in a slightly different format and at a different venue while the ICC will play host, from 2006, to the Big Debate - a new venture by organised the NEC Group in partnership with Birmingham Chamber and Birmingham Forward.

"The event will aim to attract heavyweight speakers from both the city and the national political, business and social arenas - and will be chaired in a 'Question Time' format."

Debbie Thomas, director of marketing and public affairs for the NEC Group, said an NEC representative would continue to attend the new Breakfast Connection.

Chairman of Birmingham Forward, Derek Inman, said his organisation and the Chamber were jointly working to find a new venue for the event. It was too soon to soon to say where the event might be held.

"Times change and it was time to to take a fresh look," he said.

Birmingham Chamber chief executive Sue battle said: "The NEC Group has been a huge supporter of Breakfast Connection over the years.

"We also understand they have to have a commercial

focus. The ICC is a hugely popular venue and it is for the NEC group to judge its business priorities."

She said Breakfast Connection was a powerful brand, there was a need for such a networking event and it would continue.

The event has been staged roughly every two months for an audience coming from areas including media, marketing, creative, industry and others.

Speakers have ranged from an 'imagineering and futurology' expert from Orange and leaders in creative, media , marketing and business from the West Midlands and beyond.

In August The Birmingham Post reported the NEC Group was carrying out a review of Breakfast Connection. Organisers at Birmingham Chamber and Birmingham Forward were at that stage concerned the plug may be pulled at the ICC.

There was a school of thought which argued the group may seek to use the venue used for The Breakfast Connection in more financially profitable ways.

The last ICC Breakfast Connection will be on November 10.

For more information or to book a place please visit

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