Starting a business is one of the hardest things you will ever do. Access to a cheap and diverse workforce, a strong local economy, high quality infrastructure and transparent government processes can make your journey to business success a whole lot easier. Below, we take a look at the five best cities to do business in the United Kingdom, and why they deserve to be on this list:
The reasons for London’s numero uno position on this list are obvious enough: it is the capital of Britain, a global centre of trade, commerce and finance, is home to over 8 million residents, and is among the most urbane and affluent cities in the world. Businesses in London can benefit from a diverse and skilled workforce, relatively lax regulations, and easy access to millions of affluent buyers. London is particularly well suited for businesses in high growth, knowledge-focused areas of technology, medicine and finance. A widespread, affordable and efficient transport system is big bonus as well. Close proximity to the continent is another reason why a London address is on the ‘must-have’ list of most businesses. On the downside, the cost of living in London can be very high, especially around the city centre. Young entrepreneurs and startups would do better by moving to a more affordable location in the suburbs or another city altogether. High office rental prices are another hindrance to business (average annual rent cost is nearly $119/£79.5 per square foot ).
Manchester has long held a reputation for being England’s industrial centre. Although the textile mills the city was once famous for have long moved to China and South East Asia, Manchester continues to be a thriving metropolis with a population of 512,000. Manchester has been called UK’s ‘Second City’ since the early 2000s on account of its diverse culture, music, education and art. It has also been one of the fastest growing cities in the country for a good part of this century. Incidentally, Manchester ranks among the top four retail areas in UK . The city also enjoys a high diversity rate (15.0% of the population is foreign born, compared to 9.2% for the rest of the ountry), which has made it particularly attractive for knowledge-based businesses. The local government also actively promotes business and investment by offering several perks and streamlined licensing.
The second most populous city in England after London, Birmingham benefits from strong infrastructure, diverse workforce, and a vibrant local art/culture scene. Birmingham is home to six top universities, including the University of Birmingham. The local government has played an active role in promoting Birmingham as a business destination as part of its ambitious ‘Big City Plan’ . This includes tax breaks and streamlined approval/licensing processes. Birmingham is also one of the most diverse cities in the UK – nearly 25% of its population is South Asian. The city also has a total GDP in excess of £60b and is ranked 72 in the global cities index .
Smaller and more affordable than the big cities on this list, Sunderland is one of the best places to set up a business in Northern England. Sunderland has enjoyed an economic Renaissance of sorts in the last two decades with sweeping changes to its infrastructure and government regulatory machinery. This has not only helped attract a diverse, educated workforce to the city, but also made it a prime business destination. One report even ranked Sunderland as the best place to do business in the UK . The cost of living, including office/home rental prices, are very low when compared with London or Birmingham. The city is small enough to be traversed by car. Sunderland also ranks very high on the environment index, meaning you’ll have access to plenty of clean, fresh air in green surroundings. A slew of government approved perks and tax privileges, along with its diverse literature and art scene make it one of the best cities to start a business in the United Kingdom.
Most University towns rank very high on innovation and investment index. This is particularly true for Cambridge, which benefits greatly from the presence of the University of Cambridge and the culture of innovation it fosters. New businesses can also have access to a high quality talent pool of fresh University graduates, along with low rent and affordable cost of living. Cambridge’s small size makes transportation a non-issue. The city also scores exceptionally well on the environment index, courtesy of the many canals, grasslands and lakes that dot the University grounds. Description: This article takes a look at the five best cities to do business in the United Kingdom.
Jon works with companies to help them maximise opportunities in their local area and has worked with everyone from local Birmingham meeting room providers to businesses with regional outlets.