The Top 5 Places in the UK to setup a Business outside of London

Why is it, if you think of businesses and start-ups, London instantly springs to mind? Images of power suits and briefcases walking with purpose through Canary Wharf might be how the media portray entrepreneurs. In reality, many thriving cities across the UK have a lot to offer. Think lower costs, sizable local investment and a pool of high-quality talent. For any new start-ups wondering where to locate, here are 5 cities we think would be perfect places for your business to succeed.

1. Cardiff

Retail, leisure and tourism make up a large proportion of the Welsh capital’s economy as well as its thriving media hub. Any business that sets up in Cardiff also benefits from its three universities meaning companies have access to highly-skilled talent.

Another benefit of starting a business in Cardiff is the Government investment heading its way. Announced in May by the Business Secretary Alok Sharma, businesses and start-ups across all of Wales will see £40m investment from the UK government to drive forward new technological advances.

2. Bristol

Bristol’s thriving mix of innovative, cultural and creative outlets makes it the perfect place to set up a new business. Voted the best place to live for under-26s in 2019, Bristol offers everything you could need to run a successful business.

With its mix of office, studio and co-working spaces, there are plenty of options for a start-up. And it is reassuring to know it has an impressive business survival rate. This has probably contributed to Bristol being named the best UK city outside London to start a company. Indeed the Start-Up Ecosystem Rankings in 2020 has moved Bristol up ‘57 places to be named 68th best in the global rankings’.

Being a harbour city makes Bristol a tourist destination, and this further adds to a successful commercial community. With credentials like this, it is no wonder small businesses and entrepreneurs are clamouring to set up in the West Country city.

3. Edinburgh

Edinburgh has been named as one of the world’s top 20 cities for wellbeing, according to a new study from property consultancy Knight Frank’. Insider.co.uk goes on to say that Edinburgh should expect to see more entrepreneurs and start-ups moving to the city. This is because it isn’t just about work. People are attracted to places where they can enjoy life, and Edinburgh’s mix of culture, nightlife and tourism certainly provides a quality of life people desire.

A university city, Edinburgh offers a highly-educated workforce and scientific research, higher education and financial services are dominant industries. But, not to be pigeon-holed, Edinburgh’s cultural scene is also booming with the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe festival big hitters on the international festival circuit.

4. Manchester

Manchester is definitely a city where boundaries are challenged. It’s where scientists first split the atom, where graphene was first produced, and it is home to some of the most influential bands and artists of all time. With such a vibrant culture, steeped in a rich history, Manchester is an ideal place for a new business start-up.

In fact, for the fourth consecutive year Manchester has ranked as the best-performing city in the UK, outside London, for attracting foreign direct investment. This just proves that Manchester is a city that continues to grow.

When the BBC moved some of its departments into the stylishly designed Media City, it reinforced Manchester’s image as a creative and innovative business centre. With a large university population and new creative areas such as new Islington and Ancoats, you will find the perfect location for your new business.

5. Birmingham

Boasting the largest active business population outside of London, the UK’s ‘Second City’ is a popular location for new businesses to set up. The Bullring is one of the UK’s leading retail centres and with HS2 on its way, Birmingham is going to get even busier.

Like other cities on this list, Birmingham has many different areas for you to explore and you are bound to find the right place to set up your business’ home.

Digbeth, home of creative hub The Custard Factory, is looking at receiving significant investment. If the submitted proposal is agreed more than 900 new homes, a 133-bedroom hotel and almost 6,000 sq ft of mixed creative, retail, leisure and workspace will be built.

Not only is investment heading its way, but Birmingham is also home to the NEC and the ICC meaning that you will have conference and business trade coming to you.

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