Best Places to Launch a Business in the UK
Updated: Apr 14, 2021
The findings from technology recruitment firm, Resst, highlight the best and worst cities to launch a startup in the UK.
According to the research, London is now one of the worst places in the UK to start a new business, based on a series of ranking factors.
Brighton is the best place to start a new venture, based on a combined score between broadband connectivity, a timely commute and business survival rates over five years.
Below Brighton, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough, Hull and Cardiff rank in the top five best cities. Traditional business powerhouses prove to be more hostile to new businesses, with Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow and London ranking at the bottom of the pile.
Historically, young entrepreneurs have taken their degrees from universities and headed off to London, leading to a ‘brain drain’ in the rest of the UK. Now, more people are choosing to stay away from the capital and starting their businesses from home. Accelerated by Covid-19 and the need for remote working, the swing away from London has been much more severe than many experts predicted.
As well as young people moving out of the City, we’ve seen startups beginning to look elsewhere from the UK’s tech capital. If there was a place to put a rocket behind your new venture, the capital was the place to go. But now, as the rest of the UK catches up in terms of infrastructure and communications, we’re starting to see more startups launching from elsewhere in the country.
Check out the full table below.
Brighton has been named the best place in the UK to launch a new business, thanks to a combination of widespread high-speed internet, a quick commute that takes less than twenty minutes on average, and excellent business survival rates.
The city also boasts two universities, the University of Sussex and University of Brighton, which are an excellent source of local talent looking to get their foot in the door when searching for a new job after their studies.
It also doesn’t hurt that London is just a short train ride away, especially for those post-covid meetings in the capital.
Hull takes the final spot in the top five on our list thanks to it having the best internet in the UK. Unlike most of the UK, which has it’s connectivity needs serviced by the likes of Virgin, Sky, BT and others, Hull has its own internet infrastructure in place. KCOM’s service covers every home and business in the city, with speeds averaging out at 163mbps. That’s light-years above what the majority of us get. The Yorkshire city drops slightly down our list due to low business survival rates, with only 38.9% of businesses expected to survive longer than five years. Still, if you’re looking to be a part of the Northern Powerhouse, Hull is a fantastic place to start.
Birmingham comes in at 15th place in our rankings, despite having the second-fastest broadband in the UK of any major city. An average speed of 160.9mbps brings it in a very close second to the speeds that Hull achieves with KCOM; however, Birmingham also has the worst business survival rates of those we tallied.
Just 35.4% of businesses are expected to survive more than five years in Birmingham, with the majority struggling to stay open or moving elsewhere.
A city not often associated with new startups is Reading, but if you’re planning on your venture lasting longer than five years, it might well be worth considering. The Berkshire town has a 46.1% survival rate for new businesses, 10.7% higher than Birmingham.
Reading is also close to London, in case you ever need to pop in, with more than 300 trains per day between the two centres, with the average ride taking only 25 minutes. It’s no surprise that Reading is a popular commuter town, but not many would have previously considered it to be one of the best places to launch a new business.
Perhaps the biggest surprise that this research has provided is that London has dropped down the rankings significantly. As the years have gone by, London has become more hostile to those looking to launch a new business, mostly thanks to rising costs for accommodation, travel, and business rents and rates. It is less surprising that London has the worst average commute time in the UK, with the average journey time well above 30 minutes, with some journeys taking over an hour.
Why does it matter where you launch your business?
The location of your business can be critical to your success for a variety of reasons. Firstly, are you able to service your customers from where you launch your business? If you a digital-first start up this might not be an issue, but some businesses really rely on the local infrastructure. Next, as you continue to grow as a business can you access the right talent where you are based – the strength of the team you build is mission-critical to scaling a successful business.
Why does high-speed internet matter to businesses?
Almost every business in every industry needs high-speed internet. From accessing cloud-based systems to communicating with customers high-speed internet matters so that you are not losing precious time out of your day with connectivity issues. It also can be reflected on your business – clients and prospective customers can get frustrated if the bandwidth is poor leading to disruption in online meetings.
What does a startup need to do to survive?
The most obvious action that startups can take is to ensure they consistently produce and increase revenue – which can be easier said than done but the formula is pretty simple. To do that, you need to ensure the product or service you are offering adds more value than what it costs the customer. Then consistently deliver a service to your customers that exceed expectations whilst continuing to invest in sales and marketing to ensure you keep building your customer base.
Looking at the data, are there any surprising findings?
Firstly, I think it is a great endorsement for regional development and that there is obviously a range of benefits to launching a business outside of London. It was also encouraging that the findings showed the top five places to launch a business are situated across the North and South meaning wherever you are based in the UK you are not far away from an epicentre of potential entrepreneurial success. Hopefully, both these findings and the rise of a more remote business style sped up by the Covid pandemic means top entrepreneurs will instead choose to build their businesses across the country rather than flock to pockets of the country such as London.
Data was taken from various government sources, including the Commons Library and ONS. Figures on broadband speed, infrastructure and business survivability rates were compared, contrasted and ranked to reveal the top 20 cities in the UK for launching a startup.