Brummies want to be their own boss more than anyone, as city tops new start-up list

12,108 businesses were started in Birmingham last year, the most in any city outside of London. While South Northamptonshire saw the biggest increase

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


For a fifth consecutive year, Birmingham has topped the list for the highest number of new start-ups outside London.

A report from the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE), has revealed that 12,108 businesses were started in the UK’s second city last year – adding to the 17,473 that were founded in 2016.

This isn’t the first time the Midlands city has been recognised for its start-up appetite, a report from the Start Up Loans Company in August 2017 named Birmingham as the UK’s “most entrepreneurial” city outside of London thanks to the amount of funding Brummie businesses received – bagging more than £2m from Start Up Loans alone.

Read more: Starting a business in Birmingham

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Manchester came third in the list with 8,295 business registrations in 2017, followed by Glasgow (6,189), Leicester (5,942), Edinburgh (5,176), Leeds (4,915) and Liverpool (4,707).

South Northamptonshire saw the biggest percentage increase of new start-ups from 2016 levels, with 142.6% more businesses being started in 2017, while Torbay (101.5%), Richmondshire (60.7%) and Kingston upon Hull (52.1%) were also some of the regional areas bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.

Disappointingly, the total number of new start-ups in the UK dropped by more than 10% compared to 2016 levels – with 589,008 new businesses setting up shop in 2017, compared to 657,790 in 2016 – the first drop in business launches since 2010.

As part of the initiative, alongside some well-known ambassadors, Startups will pool its resources and networks to give business owners the tools they need to be their own boss – all they have to do is pledge that they will start a business in 2018.

Speaking about Birmingham’s small business sector, Andy Street, mayor for the West Midlands Combined Authority, said:

“Recent successes with the Commonwealth Games and Coventry City of Culture demonstrate the confidence and excitement in our region and these record numbers of start-ups created last year reinforce the view that this is our time.

“It’s never been more important to focus on driving growth in our great regions, and Birmingham is leading the way with more small businesses being created than any other regional city.

“With the West Midlands fighting to attract Channel 4 to our region, successes like this – which are heavily based on our strengths in the digital and creative industries – will help our case significantly.”

Ian Ward, Birmingham City council leader, added:

“Birmingham is once again creating more businesses than any city outside the capital, cementing our status as one of Britain’s most innovative cities.

“Through dedicated support for entrepreneurs and small firms, more start-ups are being created than ever before, and record numbers of businesses and people are choosing Birmingham as their home.

“This has not happened by coincidence and is the result of years of hard work to create the perfect environment for skilled entrepreneurs, who are provided with world-class accelerator schemes, affordable office space and access to a global market.

“These statistics just go to show that Birmingham is the perfect place for people with a good idea to succeed.”

Saqib Bhatti, director for growing businesses and representing small businesses at Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), also commented:

“It comes as no surprise that Birmingham has maintained its position as the UK’s leading regional start-up destination for the fifth year in a row. It is testament to the city’s hard-working nature, entrepreneurial spirit and vibrant support networks that Birmingham continues to come out on top.

“The GBSLEP Growth Hub provides a single point of contact for growing companies that are looking for advice and funding – so they can expand, innovate, recruit and ultimately fulfil their potential.

“Since it launched in 2015, the Growth Hub has helped 500 start-ups across Greater Birmingham and Solihull, which has created over 400 jobs and supported the area’s ongoing transformation.

“From creative to tech, professional services to retail, vibrant start-ups are helping to further cement the region’s reputation as a hotbed for industry and innovation.”

Written by:
Back to Top