Birmingham remains regional hotspot for UK entrepreneurs

Birmingham welcomes more start-ups than any other UK regional city.

Birmingham remains the most entrepreneurial UK city outside London, according to data released by StartUp Britain. Analysis of Companies House data shows that 18,337 new businesses were registered in Birmingham during 2014 – an increase of over 2,000 on the previous year, and more than any other city outside the capital.

Manchester follows in second place with 13,054 companies registered, and Brighton is third with 8,344. Birmingham was also the most popular regional destination for start-ups in 2013 according to StartUp Britain, a national entrepreneurship campaign, with 16,281 companies registered.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “With increasing numbers of businesses setting up in Birmingham, the city is firmly establishing itself as the UK’s capital of enterprise. The thousands of start-ups innovating and growing in Birmingham are helping to drive the region’s economic recovery and offer skilled jobs to the local workforce.

“Local initiatives such as the city’s economic zones are targeting and supporting key sectors including digital, life sciences and manufacturing – which has created a diverse, productive and growing economy that entrepreneurs want to be a part of.”

Birmingham continues to attract businesses – from new companies to established global brands – both across the UK and overseas. The Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP area attracted more inward investment projects than any other English region last year. Birmingham’s GVA increased by 6% between 2012 and 2013, more than any other UK core city.

Neil Rami, Chief Executive of inward investment agency Marketing Birmingham, said: “Birmingham’s ability to attract and retain the UK’s entrepreneurial talent has created a thriving ecosystem of start-ups, which is helping to drive its economic growth. Increasing numbers of ambitious new businesses are locating in Birmingham as the city enters a new period of transformation – with schemes ranging from Birmingham New Street’s redevelopment to the transformation of the Paradise Circus area and the impending construction of HS2.

“The city is within easy reach of London’s business hubs but, despite the levels of investment it is attracting, remains an affordable location for new businesses. With its burgeoning infrastructure, vibrant support networks and skilled graduates, Birmingham has created the ideal environment for businesses that want to operate in a dynamic, industrious city.”

Growing start-ups that are based in Birmingham include Whisk – a digital shopping list application that has just launched a spin-off website – and Hobzy, a social networking site for hobbyists that also runs a platform for users to sell their products. Synapse, which uses cloud computing to integrate spreadsheets, is now targeting a £25 million turnover and 60 staff in less than five years.

The support on offer to start-ups in Birmingham includes the Entrepreneurs for the Future incubation programme at Innovation Birmingham Campus; venture capital and loans provided by Finance Birmingham; and local community networks such as Silicon Canal. The city centre’s Enterprise Zone and economic zones offer incentives that many start-ups can take advantage of, including rates relief, funding and facilities tailored to specific sectors.

Sue Summers, Chief Executive of Finance Birmingham, added: “Start-ups and small businesses are vital to the long-term health of our local and national economy. They employ the vast majority of our workforce, and some of these firms will become the global brands of the future. Birmingham has an innovative, aspiring business community that shares ideas, forms partnerships and ensures that local workers can develop their skills and experience without having to leave the city. By backing start-ups financially, we want to ensure that these firms stay in Birmingham as they continue to grow.”

The news follows growing recognition for Birmingham as a popular home for new and emerging businesses. Birmingham has doubled its number of accelerator and incubator programmes in the past two years, according to a report by Telefonica from November 2014 called The Rise of the UK Accelerator and Incubator System.