Bristol drives UK start-up boom

The UK is experiencing a start-up surge, with the number of start-ups increasing by around 28.0% over the past year, according to research by Instant Offices. While London’s over-saturated start-up market is only seeing small, gradual growth, hot areas include the Bristol corporate finance scene, where low-cost office space and an innovation boom are encouraging new businesses.

The increase in start-up businesses across the UK has been driven by the regional cities, with Nottingham showing the highest concentration of new business registrations; 68% more companies were started in 2014/5 compared to the previous financial year in the city.

London experienced some of the smallest proportional growth across the UK at just 21% but which, in totality, still demonstrates a significant increase in new start-ups.

The analysis of Companies House data by Instant Offices shows an increase in new companies appears to be particularly strong in the Midlands and North; cities in these areas increased proportionately faster than their southern counterparts, including the capital.

Key areas for growth include Bristol, which grew by 40% and Birmingham which grew by 39%.

The biggest reason why Bristol is so good for start-ups is that, with its close partner Bath and surrounding areas that make up the Bristol & Bath city-region, it has the greatest diversity of industry sectors, public/private/third sector split, culture, demographics and geography, which lead to a long history of innovation, exploration and, above all, ambition.

In addition, the UK’s contingent workforce – those freelancers, consultants, and one-man companies – are acting as sources of growth and innovation across the country and this is symbolised by the increased demand for flexible office space.

Start-up growth and demand for offices has been driven by London since 2010 but now the balance has shifted to the regions where, perhaps, renewed confidence in the economy is seeing growth in entrepreneurialism. London is, of course, the largest market for such growth, but the demand in smaller markets is remarkable and this is symbolised by growth in Nottingham, Leicester and similar-sized cities.

Start-ups are more ready to leave London because of rents reaching inflated prices. In a recent study, more than 25% of 200 tech leaders surveyed said they have considered moving their offices out of London to avoid expensive real estate. An even more staggering number – 70% – expect office rents to rise significantly over the next three years.

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