The hundreds of people laid off by Rolls-Royce this year might want to think about starting their own business instead of looking for another job. The ailing aero engine marker’s home-town of Derby has been named ‘start-up capital’ of the UK in a PR study published this week.
The research by Quality Formations which (you guessed it) helps people register new businesses, ranked the UK’s 69 cities based on 19 criteria including commercial rents, energy prices, transport links and quality of life. Derby came out on top thanks to its ‘affordable cost of living, cheap virtual office rates and sky-high wages’ (though the latter is surely a double-edged sword from a business perspective?).
London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham were all absent from the top 10, whose inhabitants aren’t exactly the most well-known of start-up hubs. Stoke-on-Trent’s low rents and childcare costs dragged it into second, ahead of Belfast, Wolverhampton, Sunderland and Lincoln (this writer’s quiet home town).
‘When preparing to start up a new business venture, a vast majority of individuals can’t seem to look past cities like London, Manchester or Glasgow – those cities are fantastic, and they draw a huge number of startups for a reason,’ said Rebecca Honnan, Quality Formations’ customer service manager.
‘But we thought it was worth exploring the key elements in which these new companies all rely upon in order to survive. Overhead prices like energy and office space, access to superfast broadband and even the cost of childcare all play a huge deciding factor in whether a small startup will be able to succeed or throw in the towel.’
It’s not the first time an unlikely winner has topped such a list. In 2013 Burnley, the Lancashire locality perhaps best-known for its briefly successful football team, was named Britain’s most enterprising town by the department for business.
Trendy tech companies might not be abandoning east London or Oxford any time soon, but there’s a serious point to be made here. As communication technology gets better, and if schemes like the ‘northern powerhouse’ and (dare we say) HS2 actually deliver, there’s no reason more of Britain’s start-ups shouldn’t shun the high rents of the south and thumb a lift up the M1.
The 'top 10' places to start a business in the UK