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Start-up Cities Index 2014

UK’s top 25 cities to start a business outside of London revealed... has today revealed a city-by-city index ranking the best places to start and grow a business in the UK.

Based on research and data relating to business support, access to funding and talent, levels of start-up activity and the quality of life each city offers, the Start-up Cities Index 2014 is the most exhaustive and comprehensive of its kind.

Published by, the Index – which excludes London due to its scale and scope – has examined the scale of each city’s business activity, population, and levels of economic prosperity.

Data including geographical proximity to key infrastructure such as airports and motorways, office stock, working population and earnings, start-up and survival rates, property prices and crime figures, were collated and analysed for the report alongside business resource Startups’ own geo-location traffic statistics.

A summary of key statistics can be found here – click on the headings to re-order the cities list.

Offering insight into the UK’s start-up clusters and thriving business ecosystems, the cities listed in the report and shown in the Index’s map span several growing start-up ‘hubs’ including Norwich and Swansea, to more dominant cities such as Glasgow and Birmingham.

Manchester polled in first position as a hive of start-up activity on the back of its impressive business support, access to finance, talent pools, and office stock. Edinburgh ranked in second with its host of “world class” co-working spaces and accelerator schemes, as well as access to talent, with Bristol following closely behind.

Due to the size and geographical spread of London’s business ecosystem, the capital was left out of the rankings with a view to be analysed more closely in the coming months.

The Index also includes interviews from start-up businesses in every city to provide insight on what it’s like to set up a business in each area; with boots-on-the-ground advice on local support and mentoring, funding, networking events, and even the best places to entertain clients.

Ranked in order, the UK’s top 25 cities to start a business are:

  1. Manchester
  2. Edinburgh
  3. Bristol
  4. Cambridge
  5. Sheffield
  6. Glasgow
  7. Leeds
  8. Oxford
  9. Birmingham
  10. Leicester
  11. Liverpool
  12. Belfast
  13. Newcastle
  14. Cardiff
  15. Brighton
  16. Southampton
  17. Nottingham
  18. Norwich
  19. Aberdeen
  20. Canterbury
  21. Coventry
  22. Milton Keynes
  23. Swansea
  24. Plymouth
  25. Hull editorial director, Ian Wallis, commented:

“This report reflects the sheer volume of start-up activity and support for new businesses that stretches to every corner of the country; from Plymouth in the West, Brighton in the South, Belfast in Northern Ireland, and Swansea in Wales.

“These top 25 cities demonstrate the conditions required to give start-up businesses the best chance of success, but we fully expect that over the following years, as enterprise ecosystems develop and grow, we will see some cities rise and others fall.

“It’s fantastic news to see entrepreneurialism taking hold across the UK.”

Discussing Manchester’s ranking as the best place to start a business in the UK, chief executive of Manchester’s Investment and Development Agency (MIDAS), Tim Newns, said:

“We’re absolutely delighted to see Manchester top the ranking. We obviously have a very positive view of Manchester. We constantly consult our business community to see what their needs are and how we can continue to make Manchester a better place to invest in, to work, and to live. To see that highlighted by this Index is incredibly pleasing.

“Manchester is a hugely ambitious city and therefore we want to attract the individuals that want to create businesses, opportunities and growth. We want to drive economic performance and have Manchester at the centre of that to deliver employment and growth. Enterprise, entrepreneurship and business start-ups are a cornerstone of that ambition.”

View the full cities index here.


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