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The Best UK City to Set up a Business in 2021

The Best UK City to Set up a Business in 2021


Abdullah Abdelkafi


22 Jul 2021

Read time

4 Minutes



The location that you choose to launch your business can make or break it’s success. Although London is typically known as the ‘business capital’, it’s often a very expensive place to launch and maintain a startup. With an estimated 500,000 – 700,000 startup businesses being launched in the UK every year, we wanted to know which UK city is the best to start an enterprise in 2021.

In this new study, Total Processing created a set of unique ranking factors to calculate which UK city is the very best to launch a business in 2021. Our study takes into account all the things we would consider essential to the success of a new enterprise including quality of life, quality of commercial premises, access to talent, transport links, and business activity.

Discover which UK city came out on top below.

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The Top 5 UK Cities to Start Your Business

1. Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, England


Total points: 208

The city of Brighton came in first at the UK’s best city to start a business in 2021, scoring a total of 208 points. Brighton scored well across all of the categories, proving that it’s a great, all-round city that ticks all the boxes when it comes to launching a successful enterprise.

Its strongest category was Business Activity, which it came in joint first place for alongside Birmingham. Brighton has the UK’s highest number of active businesses per capita and the second highest new enterprise survival rate out of all UK cities at 34%. Considering that it’s a city known for its wealth of independent businesses, this comes as no surprise.

The only slight downside of living in Brighton is that, out of all the cities we analysed, it has the highest rent outside of London. Despite this, it still offers excellent quality of life and has loads to offer in this department to both its business-owners and residents alike.

2. Bristol, South West of England

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Total points: 202

In second place came the city of Bristol. Not only is this one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations but it’s now officially the second best place in the UK to start your own business!

Bristol stood out against all the rest within the Commercial Premises category, where it outscored every other city in our study. Although the cost to rent a commercial space is one of the most expensive in the UK, they won for their variety. In Bristol, you’ll have tons of choice when it comes to both the number of business premises available to let and the number of co-working spaces too.

3. Edinburgh, Scotland (tie)


Total points: 197

Edinburgh tied in third place for the UK’s best city to start a business. Not only does Edinburgh offer excellent quality of life, scoring 40/60 in this category, but they offer the very best recruitment opportunities for business owners in the UK, outscoring all other UK cities in this category with 39/40 points. Edinburgh also has the highest number of employed adults per capita than any other UK city, which will benefit your recruitment process massively!

4. Cardiff, Wales (tie)

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Total points: 197

Alongside Edinburgh, Cardiff tied in third place with 197 total points. Although they received the same overall score, their strengths are slightly different.

Whilst Edinburgh scored well in the categories Recruitment and Geography & Transport, Cardiff strengths lie elsewhere, scoring higher in both Quality of Life and Commercial Premises than Edinburgh. The cost of rent in Cardiff is significantly lower than in Edinburgh, so if you’re struggling to choose between the two, this might be something to consider!

5. Glasgow, Scotland

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Total points: 187

Glasgow received the second best score (next to Brighton) in the Business Activity category, with 55/80 points. Out of the top 5 cities, it also got the highest score for Recruitment, with 36/40 points. The city of Glasgow has 3 universities and a high percentage of its population are qualified at NVQ Level 4 or above – giving you great recruitment options.

However, Glasgow received a fairly low score for its Commercial Premises options, scoring 33/80 points in this category, and having the slowest broadband speed in the whole of the UK. Despite a couple of weaker points, it’s still a great all-round city to start your enterprise with a thriving business scene to take advantage of.


To calculate which UK city is the very best to start a business, we created a set of unique ranking factors to judge each city against.

These ranking factors fell across five different categories:

• Quality of Life (average monthly salary, average cost of rent, and crime rate)

• Commercial Premises (cost of renting commercial premises, number of business premises, co-working spaces, and average broadband speed)

• Recruitment (number of universities and population qualified at NVQ Level 4 & above)

• Geography & Transport (number of employed adults and number of airports, motorways & train stations)

• Business Activity (startup survival rate, business closures, active business population, and networking events)

Against each of the 12 ranking factors, the city was awarded between 1 and 20 points.

These were then added up to provide a total for a category and an overall total to determine a winner. For certain ranking factors (eg. number of co-working spaces and number of employed adults), we calculated the results per capita to ensure a fair result based on the size of the city.

(Centre for cities)
(National Offices Rent Maps)
(Fair internet report)
(Right Move)

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