Cambridge is the best place to start a new business in the UK outside of London, according to an index created by tech startup DeliveryApp.

Cambridge topped the list when considering factors such as business start up and closure rates, average annual rents, broadband speeds and co-working spaces. It was closely followed by Bristol, York and Oxford.  

Despite the current economic turmoil, the UK still saw a huge 753,168 new businesses opened in 2022, the second highest ever on record. This trend looks set to continue throughout 2023, with Google searches for ‘how to start a business’ seeing a 100% increase over the past 12 months.

The South of England dominated the top five, with York being the only Northern city or town featured. However Glasgow, Edinburgh, Wigan, Liverpool and Sheffield made the top 20.

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Kingston upon Hull, which came in 6th place, had the best broadband speeds in the country, followed by Nottingham and Bournemouth. Bristol had the highest number of co-working spaces and Brighton and Hove had the highest number of new business start-up rates.

Bottom of the list was Sunderland, followed by Doncaster and Barnsley.

The ranking system incorporated eight factors determined to be most important for new businesses, including the population of people aged 21-30; broadband speeds; co-working spaces; business closure rates; business start-up rates; employment rates; skilled population; and average annual rent.

RankLocationTotal Score
1Cambridge3.65
2Bristol3.6
3York3.53
4Oxford3.33
5Brighton and Hove3.21
6Kingston upon Hull3.16
7Cardiff3.16
8Plymouth3.15
9Glasgow3.14
10Nottingham3.08
11Edinburgh2.97
12Milton Keynes2.96
13Reading2.96
14Belfast2.95
15Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole2.9
16Derby2.89
17Southampton2.86
18Wigan2.86
19Liverpool2.84
20Sheffield2.83

“Do your research – this means looking at the local market, international market, and social media, on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) and finding your target markets and what they respond to,” advised Dwain McDonald, CEO of DeliveryApp.

“You should also use the same processes to investigate your competitors too – keeping an eye on your competitors will help you see what the market is doing, as well as what to avoid doing and how to create your own voice in the arena.

“Focus on retaining customers – customer loyalty for new businesses is key to bringing in new business through recommendations, and it’s five times harder to win a new customer than it is to keep a return customer. To do this, prioritise your customer service and create a customer loyalty programme.

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“Attend networking events – meeting other businesses and new start-ups at networking events helps you to understand the lay of the land you’re working within, as well as make connections that could benefit you along the way as you grow.

“Constantly refine and measure your goals – there are so many different strategies you could take to help your business get off the ground, but it’s important to set yourself goals and assess what went well/what went wrong if you don’t meet these goals. Being flexible is crucial.”