Portsmouth beats London on list of UK's most entrepreneurial cities

Saleha Riaz
·2 min read
When comparing population to business ratio, the number of new businesses launched in Portsmouth increased by 33% this year. Photo: Getty Images
When comparing population to business ratio, the number of new businesses launched in Portsmouth increased by 33% this year. Photo: Getty Images

Portsmouth ranked number one on a list of the UK’s most entrepreneurial cities that measures new business activity, with London coming in third place, a report revealed. It also cited the COVID-19 pandemic as being a catalyst for such activity.

When comparing population to business ratio, the number of new businesses launched in Portsmouth increased by 33% this year, compared with 31% in London. Bradford came in second place, with a 32% increase, according to research carried out by Instant Offices, the workspace comparison website.

Instant’s index analyses data published by the UK’s registrar of companies, Companies House.

It found that London is still the leader when it comes to the number of new businesses registered in 2020 (242,442), around 35 times higher than top-ranking city Portsmouth (6,924).

Chart: Instant Offices
Chart: Instant Offices

“London may lead the pack when it comes to business start-ups in Britain, but the UK’s other major cities are making a significant contribution to entrepreneurialism,” Instant said.

Last year, 672,890 new companies launched in the UK, an increase of 8.5% on the previous year and the highest since 2010.

Out of the 21 cities analysed, Cardiff shows the slowest growth year-on-year at 5%, but this growth is still “extremely positive,” said Instant.

It added that all cities researched saw an increase across the board, “indicating the UK entrepreneurial ecosystem has been busier than ever over the last 12 months.”

Instant also published another report which said 2020 could be a record year for new companies launched in the UK as entrepreneurs emerge from challenging circumstances, with an estimated 84,758 companies set to launch in the UK this year – the most since 2011.

READ MORE: A quarter of Brits launch a business during their lifetime

John Williams, head of marketing at Instant Offices, noted that “the onset and spread of the pandemic has had a massive impact on the growth of entrepreneurship in the country, with many new businesses having to pivot to survive during the crisis.”

“While the exact implications of COVID-19 on business and the economy at large is still uncertain, the UK’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit endures,” he said.

Official figures from last month show that UK startup numbers are on the rise amid the economic disruption of the coronavirus.

READ MORE: Small business will be 'engine' to UK economic recovery in 2021

Business chiefs said the figures showed entrepreneurs would play a “vital role” in the UK’s recovery from the crisis, but needed government support with startup costs and bank action to fix problems creating accounts.

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