Procurement · 20 April 2017

Is your business based in the statistically best UK startup location?

UK map
Is your hometown a top startup destination?

Leeds, Bristol and Reading have been named as the three best UK cities outside London to launch a new business.

The three locations came out on top, after a new study from comparison site Market Inspector ranked 30 UK towns and cities outside the capital for their suitability for startups.

The study categorised UK locations in a points system based on a multitude of factors, including the ratio of business births and deaths over a one-year period, average weekly household income and five-year year business survival rates.

With business growth in London accounting for 30.5 per cent of all business growth in Britain, and with 18.7 per cent of all UK active firms, the research identified the country’s capital city as the undeniable focal point for businesses, both large and small.

However, following a government enterprise drive, the study found that striking progress had been made in other parts of the country to boost the number of new businesses, making the UK a far more attractive business development hotspot overall.

Data collected by StartUp Britain revealed that from January to June last year, 342,927 new businesses were registered with Companies House, marking a new six-month record, as central government encouraged cities to invest in more initiatives to boost enterprise.

Which is statistically the best UK startup location?

(1) Leeds

Voted number one in the Market Inspector study, Leeds is home to more than 6,000 SMEs, employing over half the city’s workforce. It has a disproportionately high small business survival rate, with 41.7 per cent of ventures launched in 2010 remaining active by 2015.

Moreover, companies in Leeds are best at scaling up. In the last three years, the city’s businesses have achieved 20 per cent growth in revenues and/or employees on average. Back in 2011, the Centre for Cities named Leeds as one of five UK “cities to watch”, and it is touted as one of the country’s most important hubs for fast-growing firms.

(2) Bristol

There were 2,600 startups launched in Bristol in 2015 as more people flocked to the city, attracted to its relatively affordable property prices. One of eight “largest regional cities”, Bristol is a key location in the government’s Core Cities Group and its plan to boost economic growth in key UK regions.

(3) Reading

With a five-year new business survival rate of 46.1 per cent, and average weekly household incomes of £486, Reading has become the centre for enterprise in Thames Valley and the South of England second only to London.

Reading is a major retail centre, and home to the headquarters of several fast-growing British companies like Anesco and Hunstwood, as well as the UK offices of multinationals like ING Direct and natural gas giant BG Group.

(4) Birmingham

After London and Leeds, Birmingham is the largest city for employment in finance and business services. It has also seen a huge increase in the number of new businesses launched in recent years, with 7,060 launched in total in 2015.

(5) Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh is said to have the strongest, most resilient economy of any UK destination outside of London. According to the study, it also has the highest proportion of highly-qualified workers – some 43 per cent of Edinburgh’s population has a degree-level or professional qualification.

The best of the rest

How did the remaining destinations rank amongst the top 30? Is yours the best UK startup location? Here they are in order.

  • Brighton
  • Northampton
  • Guildford
  • Sheffield
  • Leciester
  • Coventry
  • Liverpool
  • Portsmouth
  • Cambridge
  • Chelmsford
  • Warrington
  • Belfast
  • Stockport
  • Cardiff
  • Nottingham
  • Glasgow
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Oxford
  • Plymouth
  • Swansea
  • Aberdeen
  • Southampton
  • Hull

Why do more than two thirds of UK cities have more vacancies than there are jobseekers

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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