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Revealed: 7 Surprising Startup Locations

Revealed: 7 Surprising Startup Locations

You donΓÇÖt have to head to a major city to find startup success. We reveal seven less obvious startup locations which are all thriving right now. Is your town on the list?

Coventry Popular Startup Location

Startup BritainΓÇÖs research into the UK’s entrepreneurial hotspots revealed some fascinating results.

Out in front were the usual suspects: London followed by Birmingham and Manchester – as you’d expect. But the survey also turned up some less expected results… These are the startup locations you need to know now.

Warrington, Cheshire

Centre for Cities research recently revealed Warrington as one of the top ten British cities for economic performance. The city was ranked tenth overall out of sixty-four UK cities, with its employment rates and private sector jobs growth a particular strength.

Startup count: 6,766*

Population: 203,700

Key towns & cities nearby: Situated midway between Manchester and Liverpool.

Key industries: Nuclear and energy, distribution and logistics, telecoms, as well as business and financial services.

WhatΓÇÖs the office space like? Warrington offers a good selection of serviced offices suitable for startup businesses, from modern, business park space to offices in converted period buildings. Businesses looking for offices with light industrial or workshop space attached will also find a range of options.

Coventry, Warwickshire

It seems that being sent to Coventry isnΓÇÖt such a bad thing after all ΓÇô at least not if youΓÇÖre looking to start a new business. The cityΓÇÖs central location is one of the key points in its favour, making it easy to reach major cities including Birmingham (half an hour away) or London (just over an hour by train). ItΓÇÖs also surrounded by the Warwickshire countryside and the Midlands cultural hubs at Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon. So perhaps we should add diversity to the ΓÇ£prosΓÇ¥ list too.

Startup count: 6,446

Population: 316,900

Key towns & cities nearby: Birmingham, Warwick, Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Key industries: The public sector including administration, education and health; automotive manufacturing; banking, finance and insurance.

What’s the office space like? A wide selection of space, split between converted period buildings at the heart of the city centre and business park space (sometimes with workshop space) in CV3 and CV4. 

Northampton, Northamptonshire

Recently named as the UK’s best performing city for startups in a study by Experian, Northampton has suddenly found itself ΓÇô and its startup scene ΓÇô propelled into the spotlight. Experian based their findings on four criteria ΓÇô startup rates, insolvencies, financial health and turnover growth ΓÇô concluding that if youΓÇÖre going to start a new business anywhere in the UK, Northampton offers the best business environment.

Startup count: 5,546

Population: 212,100

Key towns & cities nearby: Milton Keynes, Bedford, Luton. London Euston is just over an hour by car or train.

Key industries: Finance, distribution, and the creative sector which Northampton Borough Council says is at the heart of the townΓÇÖs regeneration.

WhatΓÇÖs the office space like? Like Coventry, Northampton’s serviced offices can predominantly be found in period buildings within the city centre and, a little further out, on business parks which often offer workshop space too.

Chelmsford, Essex

EnglandΓÇÖs newest city (a title it received as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations), has an affluent economy characterised by low unemployment and a high-skilled professional workforce. The city prides itself on being ΓÇ£a place where innovation, technology and entrepreneurship thriveΓÇ¥. Current predictions suggest that the number of jobs in the city could increase by as much as 18,000 by 2031.

Startup count: 5,689

Population: 168,310

Key towns & cities nearby: Central London (via Liverpool Street), Ipswich and Norwich.

Key industries: Finance and insurance, business services, advanced electronic engineering, research and development ΓÇô particularly in the scientific sector.

WhatΓÇÖs the office space like? While Chelmsford offers fewer serviced office options than many of our other featured startup locations, the quality of space on offer is high and typically found within large business centres.

Harrow, Greater London

A very solid performer, Harrow saw more startup businesses launch within its bounds in 2013 than Brighton, Bristol, Edinburgh or Glasgow. This is in line with the Harrow economy which has continued to go from strength to strength in recent years.

Startup count: 9,259

Population: 242,400

Key towns & cities nearby: Central London, Watford, Slough, Uxbridge.

Key industries: Thanks to a high proportion of SMEs, the types and sectors of businesses found in Harrow is particularly varied, although the town has particular strengths in business services.

WhatΓÇÖs the office space like? Thanks to close proximity to Central London, Harrow offers a variety of serviced offices. These are mainly found within modern office buildings, but the interiors span everything from those focused on functionality to design-led space.

Guildford, Surrey

GuildfordΓÇÖs economy is characterised by affluence, which means a wealthy market for startups to tap into. Major businesses based in Guildford include Allianz whose UK head office is here, and global games developer Electronic Arts (EA) whose presence in Guildford is helping to grow the townΓÇÖs gaming sector.

Startup count: 5,950

Population: 70,000 (town); 137,200 (borough)

Key towns & cities nearby: Reading, Woking and Farnborough. London Victoria is just over an hour by train.

Key industries: Finance and insurance, IT and telecoms, gaming and digital media, advanced manufacturing (predominantly aerospace and defence related), healthcare including life sciences and pharmaceutical, as well as education and tourism.

WhatΓÇÖs the office space like? Modern, purpose-built offices are the staple of Guildford’s office scene, and there are several large business centres within the town. These typically offer a wide range of facilities and choice of space to tenants.

Portsmouth, Hampshire

Set to benefit from more than a billion pounds in investment, the Great Waterfront City is already home to high-profile companies including Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, and QinetiQ. As well as being home to the UK’s best connected international port, the city is making significant inroads towards becoming a leading retail and leisure destination, predominantly in the form of the £200m Gunwharf Quays development.

Startup count: 5,661

Population: 205,100

Key towns & cities nearby: Southampton, Chichester, Gosport and Havant. Brighton is also just over an hour away.

Key industries: Shipping, advanced engineering (with an emphasis on aerospace technology), and the knowledge-based sector. The city is also home to the Royal Navy.

What’s the office space like? Portsmouth is home to some impressive, modern business centres with glass façades outside and plenty of facilities inside – ideally suited to professional services startups. New businesses in other sectors may also be interested in the city’s range of more functional business park space.

Are you running a startup in any of these locations? Think your town or city deserves to be added to the list? Have your say in the comments below.


*Number of startups registered in 2013, from research by Startup Britain.

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