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Midlands engine roars ahead in start up stakes

  • Birmingham tops list of UK’s ten most entrepreneurial hubs outside London, research reveals
  • Northern cities dominate top ten spots, as start ups across top four cities secure £4.2 million in funding in 2016
  • Durham is the fastest growing in the top ten – with a 243% yearly funding increase to £1.2 million

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Birmingham has been crowned the most entrepreneurial city in the UK (outside of London), while overall the north has seen a surge in start up lending, according to data from The Start Up Loans Company.

The top ten is based on the local authorities, including city boroughs, that secured the highest amounts of start up funding in 2016, excluding lending to London-based start ups which secured £23 million in total.

Birmingham topped the list outside of the Capital, snapping up just over £2 million in funding to earn its title as the epicenter of the UK’s start up spirit outside of London. This is followed by Cornwall, with The Start Up Loans Company providing entrepreneurs in the area £1.3 million.

Cities in the north of England are hot on their heels however, with Durham, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester all featuring in the top ten – proving they’re the ones to watch.

Start ups across the top four highest northern cities racked up a total of £4.2 million in funding during 2016 – overtaking southern equivalents in Cornwall, Bristol and Bournemouth who collectively received £3.2 million.

Durham was the top ten’s fastest growing entrepreneurial city borough, with start ups securing £1.2 million in 2016, 243% more funding than the previous year (£355,888).

Scottish cities Edinburgh and Glasgow also saw strong entrepreneurial spirit as start ups secured £1.8 million from The Start Up Loans Company.

Small Business Minister, Margot James, comments:

“From retailers in Birmingham to beauticians in Glasgow, Start Up Loans give people the chance to be their own boss, wherever they are in the country. The UK has an excellent record in creating businesses and we want to make sure start ups outside of London can access the finance they need.


This government recognises the funding challenges facing British start ups, and is addressing this as part of our modern industrial strategy.”

Tim Sawyer, CEO of The Start Up Loans Company, comments:

“The Northern Powerhouse is steaming ahead when it comes to entrepreneurial spirit, but we can’t neglect the fact that start up growth outside of London is being led by businesses in Birmingham.


A boost in government and private funding for infrastructure and industries in former manufacturing hubs like Durham has brought with it a renewed start up fever north of the Capital. And the region is sending out a strong message that it’s open for business. We can’t deny that London is a strong start-up hub, but it’s encouraging to see a regional spread of start ups popping up.


As our data shows, there’s no start up owner ‘type’. Many of our loan recipients aren’t aspiring to be the next tech-giant, but they do want to pursue a career as their own boss. Motivators can vary from wanting a better work life balance, the opportunity for an improved income or the desire to turn something they love into a career. It’s our job to be there to offer help along the way, both financially and through our mentoring support − to keep the UK’s start up spirit shining. We’re looking forward to lending to more start ups over the next year.”