These are the best cities to start a business, outside of London, in 2017

The Start-up Cities Index 2017 uncovers the cities which rank highest for start-up ecosystems, talent, investment, business support, and affordability…

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:
Direct to your inbox Email Newsletter viewed on a phone

Sign up to the Startups Weekly Newsletter

Stay informed on the top business stories with’s weekly email newsletter


The annual Start-up Cities Index 2017 has published today, identifying the 25 best cities to start and grow a business outside of London.

View the Start-Up Cities Index 2017

Ranked first place in the index as the start-up destination for 2017 is Scotland’s capital Edinburgh, pipping Bristol to the post in second position, thanks to its burgeoning business community, access to funding and range of accelerators, incubators and science parks.

Running since 2014, the Start-up Cities Index is compiled by and uses official government data and industry statistics to create a picture of the thriving start-up hubs across the UK – from Brighton in the South to Norwich in the East to Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Said to be the most comprehensive report of its kind with in-depth profiles for each city, the index uses data including average commercial rents, the number of domicile and student graduates in each city, start-up births and deaths and much more. View the methodology and city-by-city statistics here.

Ranked from 25 to one, each city has also been considered on the basis of local house prices, culture and crime rates so that you can be sure the city is a great place to live and start a business in.

Interesting findings from this year’s index include:

  • Birmingham has the largest business population (37,200 businesses)
  • Oxford has the lowest number of business closures (480 in 2015)
  • … while Leeds and Birmingham have the most (2,785 and 4,030 respectively)
  • Start-ups are most likely to survive in Cambridge (The city boasts five-year survival rates of 49%)
  • Yet, only 36% of start-ups are likely to still be trading after five years in Manchester and Hull

Commenting on the Start-up Cities Index 2017,’s feature and news editor Megan Dunsby said:

“For too long, London has dominated start-up rhetoric as the UK’s enterprise hub and this index serves as an important reminder of the business activity that is flourishing in regions across the country.

“Edinburgh’s economy is thriving, for instance, while Milton Keynes –traditionally dismissed as a ‘hip’ start-up location – has incredible business support on offer, along with affordable living costs and great travel links.

“The Start-up Cites Index 2017 shines a spotlight on arguably lesser-known business hubs and we’re confident that this report will give both aspiring, and established, entrepreneurs more options for where to start and grow their business.”

The full ranking of the 25 cities in the Start-up Cities Index:

  1. Edinburgh
  2. Bristol
  3. Liverpool
  4. Brighton
  5. Cardiff
  6. Leeds
  7. Leicester
  8. Glasgow
  9. Birmingham
  10. Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  11. Belfast
  12. Cambridge
  13. Manchester
  14. Nottingham
  15. Coventry
  16. Milton Keynes
  17. Sheffield
  18. Plymouth
  19. Southampton
  20. Swansea
  21. Aberdeen
  22. Oxford
  23. Canterbury
  24. Hull
  25. Norwich
Written by:
Back to Top