Top 5 cities to start a business in outside of London

New business success in the UK is not focused solely in London

Sixty percent of new activity is in other major cities, such as Brighton, Cambridge, Manchester, Edinburgh and Leeds. These cities are proving to be leaders in startup business statistics, providing high survival rates, high financial sustainability and one-in-three of the country’s new job creation opportunities.

In terms of startups, London ranks eighth compared to the leaders. They provide attractive surrounding recreational, housing, educational, cultural and business platforms for new startups.

Where, then, is the best place to start a new company? Looking at the 5 top cities more closely shows some of the differences that could have a crucial influence on the success of a startup company .


Brighton and Hove, dubbed “silicon beach”, is a favourite tech hub on the south coast for startup companies in businesses ranging from creative industries and IT to independent food and retailing, attracting diverse graduates from the Brighton and Sussex universities. Arts and humanities are brought together with mathematical and technical disciplines by the local fusion companies.

Of note in Brighton, Lambent Productions and Plug-in Media both hold awards for their productions, while Brighton Gin is gaining popularity across the UK.

Startup resources

The Chambers of Commerce for Brighton and Hove and for Sussex both provide training, networking and professional services for startups.

Networking opportunities are available through The Funding Room and the Hove Business Association.

Leeds and Manchester

Manchester is an established tech hub second in size only to London, with a business opening rate five times faster than Cambridge. Outside of London, Leeds is a key financial services centre in the UK. Together Leeds and Manchester have a workforce close to 1.4 million and have an expected growth rate that’s close to 17%

UKFast, Cocoon and Keep it Useable are established firms in this high growth area.

Startup resources

Manchester City Council and Innospace, at Manchester University, provide advice and support to new businesses. 


Spawned by its renowned university, Cambridge has a wide community of startup companies and, as a business centre, it offers many opportunities in fields from wholesale and retail distribution, IT, technology, construction and manufacturing to telecommunications. This energetic business hub has some 4,500 high-knowledge companies yielding growth rates of over 7%.

Excell in communications and Wesley Coe in laboratory and medical equipment manufacturing are two significant companies operating in Cambridge.

Startup resources

Cambridge Angels, Enterprise East Cambridgeshire and Cambridge Capital Group provide information and funding to business startups.


Edinburgh is at the heart of Scottish culture, and Scotland’s traditions in medicine and science. Home to three universities – Edinburgh University, Queen Margaret University and Heriot-Watt University – this is Scotland’s startup epicentre, with infrastructure and cultural facilities making it an attractive centre for a startup company. Business survival rates are in the range of 37%.

Twig and SkyScanner are two of Edinburgh’s successful startups.

Startup resources

Four “incubation” centres are supported by The University of Edinburgh: The Edinburgh Technology Transfer Centre, Edinburgh Research and Innovation, Edinburgh Technopole and the Scottish Microelectronics Centre.

Edinburgh Council provides support to young entrepreneurs, including financial loans.
CodeBase, located in Edinburgh, is a startup incubator providing a forum for investors and talented entrepreneurs to network.

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