Yorkshire cities lag behind as Birmingham leads the way for British startups

31 January 2014

Leeds and Sheffield trail behind Birmingham and Manchester in a list of top UK cities for business startups. The report conducted by StartUp Britain displayed London to have the highest amount of startups, recording 136 939 new business last year. The development of the ‘Tech City’ around Silicon Roundabout in East London was highlighted as the most fertile district in the city. Birmingham came in 2nd place with 16 281 new businesses, closely followed by Manchester with 11 765. Sheffield came in at 10th with 6 551, and Leeds at 13th with 6 174.

For the country in general, StartUp Britain co-founder Emma Jones said that the statistics were good news. “These figures are raw and hot off the press but the new regional statistics reveal a power house in the South East and London – which is what we were expecting – but there are also impressive pockets of entrepreneurial activity in the North West, South Yorkshire, the Midlands and Scotland.”

Growth in the North

Although boasting less new businesses than Birmingham in general, Manchester hosts the largest amount of tech start-ups in the country outside the capital. The majority of these young companies are located in the city’s North Quarter in the ‘Manchester Science Park’ where over 150 science and technology companies are based. The city has also seen a boost from the £950m MediaCity UK in Salford, where BBC and ITV studios are located. Manchester is predicted to expand at an even quicker rate once HS2 reaches the city in 2032-33. The track is predicted to have extended to Leeds by the same year.

Though not topping the StartUp Britain list, Yorkshire can be proud of the Knaresborough e-commerce startup that last year broke the £1m sales barrier before reaching its 1st anniversary. Eco Stores Direct, founded in February 2013, is an eco-friendly heating retailor which became one of the UK’s biggest online retailers of energy efficient radiators, in less than ten months.

Global view

Though StartUp Britain proclaims good news, the UK is yet to become a global leader in fostering startups and SMEs. The Wall Street Journal recently reported over 30 companies that are valued at $1 billion or more by venture-capital firms. The article states that the club is becoming less exclusive ‘as venture capitalists funnel large sums of capital in the best startups.’ Out of these 36 companies, 25 are from the United States, 8 from China, and only 3 from Europe. There are no UK companies on this list, the top European spot taken by Zalando, the e-commerce fashion and lifestyle company founded in Germany.

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