A key to Unlocking Growth: Edinburgh comes top of the table for best cities to start a business outside of London

19 October 2021
  • A new report from Barclays reveals that Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds top the list of local authorities for the highest number of high-growth businesses outside of London
  • The ‘Unlocking Growth’ report identifies the key to generating growth by exploring the importance of public and private sector partnerships in creating strong local technology ecosystems in which businesses can start and scale successfully
  • The research highlights how towns and cities across the UK can encourage growth and attract talent by investing in and supporting their local technology ecosystems

A new report out today from Barclays Eagle Labs and Beauhurst reveals the top cities for the number of high-growth businesses outside of London as Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds top the list.

The ‘Unlocking Growth’ report identifies the key to generating growth by exploring the importance of public and private sector partnerships in creating strong local technology ecosystems in which businesses can start and scale successfully. Universities, accelerator programmes and business incubators, coupled with investment sources such as angel or private equity investors.

The report looks at the critical role technology ecosystems play in supporting high-growth firms and boosting local economies. Local authority areas that are home to 100 or more high-growth companies have an average Gross Value Added (GVA) per person of £138,000, compared to £22,000 for those with less than 100.
Edinburgh tops the list for the number of high-growth businesses outside of London, with 621 calling the city home, 280 of which are technology companies.

In Edinburgh, investors made £940m in total equity investment in tech companies since 2011, universities have produced 83 spinout businesses commercialising university research and there is a range of business incubator and accelerator programmes. This is in addition to local government intervention in allocating funding, for example through Invest Edinburgh, the Council’s investment arm and the Edinburgh and the South-East Scotland City Deal.

The Edinburgh Eagle Lab is just one of a growing network of business incubator spaces that supports 28 ecosystems across the UK, providing mentoring and networking opportunities, business support, and a regular programme of events, both in person and virtually during the pandemic. To date, the Labs have supported nearly 4,000 businesses, which combined, have secured 614 equity deals since 2011, raising on average £1.45m each equity fundraising round. The Edinburgh Eagle Lab is soon to be joined by two more locations in Scotland, at the HALO Enterprise and Innovation Hub in Kilmarnock and at the new Barclays campus in Tradeston, Glasgow.

Jon Hope, Director of Eagle Labs, said: “Our mission at Barclays Eagle Labs is to help support entrepreneurs and high-growth start-ups by providing them the tools they need to grow their business and by bringing together a range of actors to help nurture and grow local tech ecosystems.
“Every region in the UK has the presence of at least one high-growth technology cluster. However, data from Beauhurst found that seven out of the top ten local authorities by number of high-growth tech companies were in London. We hope that with support from networks like Eagle Labs, towns and cities throughout the country can reap the benefits that strong local tech ecosystems can provide.”

Chris Philp, Digital Minister, said: “Capitalising on the huge potential of tech to create jobs and wealth is a crucial part of our mission to level up, so we are backing businesses across the UK with pro-innovation policies and supporting people to get the skills they need to succeed in this dynamic industry.”
To find out more about Barclays Eagle Labs and the Unlocking Growth report, visit: labs.uk.barclays


Case Study

One business who has both benefitted from and contributed to the tech ecosystem in Edinburgh is ShareIn, a technology company that provides investment businesses with a platform that they can use to receive investments directly from their networks. Founded by Jude Cook and Andrew Pickett, ShareIn have been residents at the CodeBase business incubator since its launch in 2014 and have remained headquartered in the start-up hub after it became home to the first Barclays Eagle Lab in Scotland in 2018.

Jude Cook, Co-Founder and CEO at ShareIn, said: “A strong local ecosystem has been key in ShareIn’s success. As a first time founder, building bonds between other organisations and businesses was essential and having the support network of other early stage start-ups that grew up together helped us get off the ground and grow to where we are today.

“Andrew and I met because of the ecosystem, at an Edinburgh University Business School event, and subsequently shared a hot desk space in the incubator. Now we’ve grown, but collaboration within the Edinburgh ecosystem and wider remains crucial in scaling ShareIn even further, allowing consumers to invest in and fund the businesses they genuinely care about.”

About Beauhurst

Beauhurst is a searchable database of the UK’s high-growth companies.

Our platform is trusted by thousands of business professionals to help them find, research and monitor the most ambitious businesses in Britain. We collect data on every company that meets our unique criteria of high-growth; from equity-backed start-ups to accelerator attendees, academic spinouts and fast-growing scale-ups.

Our data is also used by journalists and researchers who seek to understand the high-growth economy, and powering studies by major organisations – including the British Business Bank, HM Treasury and Innovate UK – to help them develop effective policy.

For more information and a free demonstration, visit beauhurst.com