#3 Starting a business in Liverpool

Host of the annual International Business Festival, could this busy port city be your start-up destination?

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Why start a business in Liverpool?

Host city for the International Festival for Business, Liverpool is fast-becoming the start-up destination of North West England with its active city centre, busy port, and growth opportunities.

Divided into four key zones; the traditional core, the commercial district, the waterfront and the creative quarter, the city is a two-hour train journey from London Euston and is in close proximity to Liverpool John Lennon Airport which flies to several international destinations.

Population: 478,600

Despite being home to a host of business parks including Liverpool Innovation, MerseyWorld, and Stonebridge Park, the city’s office market is much smaller in size than comparable cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, with 8.2m sq ft of office premises available. This issue is slowly being tackled by the steady rise of new co-working offices in the area – DoES Liverpool, Basecamp and Igloo to name a few – as well as the growth of Liverpool SUPERPORT; real estate opportunities to make the port become the freight and logistics “hub” for Northern UK and Ireland.

The area also attracts a high level of tourists which is bolstered by its leading shopping centre Liverpool ONE; a £1bn development. Housing over 160 brands; the commercial centre saw footfall of over 26 million in 2012 and has seen substantial growth year on year.

Improvements to Liverpool’s city status are also underway; it’s petitioning to be part of the impending High-Speed Rail 2 and a government consultation paper has been put forward to create a combined authority for the Liverpool City region which would look to result in a ‘super council’ for the area.

Access to talent in Liverpool

business talent98,500: Working age population with NVQ Level 4 and above (2015)
£497: Average full-time weekly earnings (2016)
4: Universities

Liverpool has a steady flow of student and graduate residents with four universities all located in and around the city centre; University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Edge Hill University and Liverpool Hope University. Research and innovation-led, the University of Liverpool has several commercial opportunities with facilities on site for science businesses.

Number of new start-ups (2015):2,435  – see how this compares with other cities

Labour costs in the city are just below average with full-time weekly earnings for 2016 set at £497, with 30.6% of the city’s population equating to 98,500 people of working age with NVQ Level 4 qualifications and above.

For start-up businesses keen to recruit and benefit from apprentices, the city runs the Liverpool Youth Contract which is a nationally funded programme which offers companies an apprenticeship wage subsidy of up to £3,500.

Access to business support in Liverpool

business support2: Accelerators
3: Science parks

The Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which covers six local authority areas, is especially focused on developing its “innovation economy”, low carbon solutions and encouraging the influx of tourists. It is currently rolling out four main enterprise zones to support the growth of the Liverpool area. Its key focuses are the Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone which incorporates Wirral Waters and Liverpool Waters; a £5.5bn development spread over 1.3 million sq. metres of mixed floor space, and Sci-Tech Daresbury; a lab space and research facility which has over 400 scientists on premises and growing.

Survival rates (2010-2015):38%

Science and biotech are one of Liverpool’s speciality areas with three science parks; Liverpool Innovation Park, Liverpool Science Park, and Merseybio, all targeted at developing new solutions and supporting life sciences. Merseybio primarily works as an incubator and has 16 purpose-built labs with associated offices.

Liverpool start-up entrepreneurs can now benefit from more support following the British Library’s launch of a Business & IP Centre. The site will look to build on the success of the London and Leeds centres; providing a wide range of advice and resources to small business owners.

Access to grants and funding in Liverpool

business funding

Start-up accelerators are one of Liverpool’s strongest assets, particularly with regards to the digital, health and science industries. It’s home to the Idea Alive accelerator which seeks to support early-stage digital businesses, and Spark Up; a funding and mentoring programme supported by the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce which intends to create 500 Merseyside “super businesses” over the next five years.

Number of business deaths (2015):1,560

Small business grants are available from the Regional Investment Aid Merseyside which provides funding to job creators in areas of high unemployment and has up to 35% of the value of projects available for early-stage firms. Liverpool has also been allocated funding from the government’s Regional Growth Fund with its £15m Business Growth Grant scheme. The scheme typically provides small business grants of between £10,000 and £1m to fund up to 20% of projects and spark co-investment from the private sector.

Quality of life in Liverpool

quality of life£121,374: Property price average (September 2016)
90.86: Crimes per 1,000 people (June 2015)
19.3mbps: Average broadband speed

House prices in Liverpool are the lowest on the list with average prices at £121,374 for September 2016, significantly lower than neighbouring Manchester (£238,050).

Yet low house prices could correlate to the area’s crime rates which are particularly high; 90.86 crimes were committed per 1,000 people for the year ending June 2015; a steep increase on the crime rates of comparable areas such as Sheffield (68.19 crimes per 1,000) and Newcastle (80.2 crimes per 1,000 people). As in any location, it’s worth considering the value of proper security for your business (Startups has a useful guide to CCTV systems).

The original home of the Beatles, Liverpool has a rich cultural and entertainment scene with the Liverpool Echo arena, the Tate Liverpool and Walker art gallery, Liverpool Empire Theatre, and Liverpool Philharmonic Hall; the second oldest professional symphony concert organisation in the UK.

In terms of eating out, Liverpool is booming with restaurants and eateries; in its business district you can dine above the city at Panoramic 34, or visit the Hope Street district which has renowned restaurants such as London Carriage Works and 60 Hope Street.

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