Brighton: the best city to start a business

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The past 20 years have seen London become a British success story, enjoying phenomenal cultural and economic expansion.

However, the tables could be turning. Barriers for new businesses in London are high and migration from the city has outstripped immigration for the first time in 25 years, according to the Office for National Statistics. So where is the best place to start a business in the UK? According to AAT research, Brighton is where we should be heading to launch a start-up.

What makes a city ideal for business?

AAT examined information from 64 cities across the UK to determine the best location to start a business in. To compile the list, AAT cross-referenced data from seven key criteria including the density of small and medium sized business, digital connectivity, and the amount of SME closures in the UK’s biggest towns and cities.

Brighton on top

Topping the table overall is Brighton, which places highly in all factors important for business growth. Just as the hulled-out London of the early 1990s offered a massive opportunity, Britain’s provincial towns are now beginning to look like extremely attractive places in which to invest.

Brighton has a  large number of small business start-ups and  a high density of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). It also also ranked well for digital connectivity, coming second only to Luton for its superfast broadband penetration rate.

Cambridge offers opportunity

In second place, technology hub Cambridge got good marks for its high SME density, low number of SME closures and the relatively large number of high growth SMEs in the city. Other cities in the top 20 include Leicester, Bristol, Aberdeen and Blackburn. London made it to number nine on the list, ranking first for the number of SMEs start-ups.

However, the capital’s high number of SME closures, middling broadband speeds and astronomic property prices makes it a less attractive place to start a business than cities such as Aldershot, Reading or Crawley.

“The success of London as a global centre for business has been one of the UK’s biggest success stories of the past 20 years however the tables could now be turning. The opportunities available in the UK’s provincial cities make them an extremely attractive place to invest in and it’s encouraging to see the high number of new businesses opening and thriving across the country.”


AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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