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Top 8 Places In The UK To Set Up A Business Outside Of London


Starting a business can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking endeavour. In the current climate, start-ups and SMEs face myriad challenges, including meeting rent costs, outperforming the competition, and securing a steady cash flow.

The location in which you choose to set up a new business can make a significant difference to the success of your endeavour, which is why we have put together a list of the best places outside of London to claim as the home of your new business. Let’s dive in.

1. Birmingham.

Often referred to as the UK’s second city, Birmingham has a long history of engineering and manufacturing. In addition to being the UK’s third-largest financial centre, Birmingham also has a booming services sector and attracts a significant level of exhibition and conference trade as it is home to several major facilities such as the ICC and the NEC.

The Bullring is a leading commercial centre in the UK and consistently attracts footfall averaging 750,000 on a weekly basis.

2. Sheffield.

Also known as the Steel City, Sheffield has a rich and extensive industrial heritage. Although the 1980s marked the start of a steady decline in steel production, Sheffield’s research organisations and two leading universities still develop advanced manufacturing technologies. Additionally, the city has a strong public sector and is one of the UK’s primary centres for sport.

Interestingly, while London has one of the lowest business survival rates (39.3%) in the UK, at 44.9% Sheffield has one of the highest.

2. Manchester.

Textile manufacturing transformed Manchester into the first industrialised city in the world. Since then, Manchester has continued to nurture and support creative innovation and push the boundaries of scientific possibility, with the invention of graphene and the first splitting of the atom to name but a few revolutionary discoveries.

Manchester is also a hub of creativity and, as it is home to five different universities, provides business owners with unparalleled access to top talent. The advanced MediaCity UK development convinced the BBC to relocate several departments to the city, which significantly boosted its reputation and led to many viewing Manchester as a serious competitor to London in the creative, media and film industries.

3. Cardiff.

As the capital of Wales, it is no surprise that the tourism, leisure and retail sectors make up a large segment of Cardiff’s economy. Importantly, however, Cardiff is also the primary financial services and business centre of Wales and boasts a thriving media and entertainment sector.

Cardiff is home to three separate universities, businesses have access to top talent with the skills to excel across a range of industries and sectors.

4. Nottingham.

Historically famed for its lace-making and bicycle manufacturing, Nottingham is now home to a range of major companies. Businesses in the life sciences, finance, retail, low-carbon technologies and leisure industries all make major contributions to the local economy.

Additionally, the Creative Quarter and the Nottingham Enterprise Zone both have a lot to offer new businesses, as does the Nottingham Science Park which works closely with the research base at the University of Nottingham.

5. Bristol.

In addition to being one of the UK’s most popular destinations for tourists, Bristol is home to a variety of businesses in the aerospace, electronics and creative media industries. The city’s commitment to innovation has also made a significant contribution to the UK’s science sector which, in 2005, resulted in it being officially named a science city.

More than 2,700 business start-ups made Bristol home in 2015, and a significant proportion of the labour force in the city are highly qualified and experienced.

6. Edinburgh.

The rich history and culture of Scotland’s capital lures streams of people from around the world to Edinburgh every single year. The Edinburgh Fringe and the Edinburgh International Festival are also contributing factors to Edinburgh’s claim to being the second most popular city break in the whole of the UK.

In addition to leisure and tourism, financial services, higher education and scientific research also contribute heavily to the local economy. Home to myriad tech incubators, offices and flexible co-working spaces, and benefiting from excellent transport links to the rest of the UK and beyond, Edinburgh is a highly desirable place to set up a company for business owners across a range of sectors.

7. Liverpool.

Famous the world over for being the home of The Beatles, it should come as no surprise to learn that Liverpool is one of the UK’s most visited cities. Leisure and tourism are therefore significant contributors to Liverpool’s economy, alongside the services sector.

With four universities located around the city centre, Liverpool-based businesses have access to highly skilled talented graduates and the city’s science parks and accelerators can offer tailored support to businesses in a range of sectors.