The UK's most entrepreneurial locations

Business in Britain is booming – but which places are pioneering this drive?

Starting up: Britain’s top entrepreneurial towns & cities

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world of work, spurring many employees to reassess their professional (and personal) goals. It’s estimated that up to 11.6 million jobs were affected by the government’s furlough scheme, setting in motion a shift in long-term priorities that has culminated in the ‘Great Resignation’ currently sweeping through the UK. But there’s an upside: people are becoming more entrepreneurial. Between January and June 2021, more than 340,000 new businesses were registered. That’s 80 new businesses per hour; a 32% rise compared to 2019.

Intrigued by this boom in business births, we set out to identify the UK’s biggest entrepreneurial hotspots, which you can explore pinned on the map below.

Where on the map?

Using data gathered by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), we compared the total number of businesses per town/city in 2020 to the same figure for 2021. On top of this, we cross-referenced these insights with the government’s latest population data to generate a ‘businesses per capita’ score for each location, allowing us to pinpoint the 10 most entrepreneurial towns and cities in the UK.

Each location has been given a score, which is based on the number of businesses per capita. The scores range from 77 to 14 – the higher the number, the more entrepreneurial the place.

Read on to find out more information about why these places are thriving for entrepreneurs and get some local resources if you're thinking of starting a business yourself.

Britain’s top 10 entrepreneurial towns and cities

Cities Towns
1. Leicester 1. Northampton
2. Brighton and Hove 2. Kettering
3. Southampton 3. Eastbourne
4. Peterborough 4. Chesterfield
5. Manchester 5. Chorley
6. Gloucester 6. Maidstone
7. Preston 7. Horsham
8. Cardiff 8. Oldham
9. Sunderland 9. Barnsley
10. Carlisle 10. Blackpool

Cities

Leicester

The most entrepreneurial streets in Leicester identified by Superscript:

  • St Martins & St Martins Square
  • Granby Street
  • Charles Street

List of business resources available to people in Leicester:

  • Leicestershire Council: Provides further information regarding funding, organisations which can offer further support and information on how to help your business grow.
  • Leicestershire Business Voice: Offers guidance and support for the business community, working with policymakers to help you achieve your ambitions.
  • Love Business Networking Leicester: A business networking support group and community of women in business.

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Brighton and Hove

Success story: The No Catch Co. – Kings Road

Following the 2018 launch of Unity Diner, a successful non-profit vegan restaurant based in East London, Kevyn Bourke and Ed Winters started brainstorming new food ideas. Their efforts ultimately led to the launch of the No Catch Co, a Brighton-based restaurant with a menu packed full of vegan spins on chip-shop classics. As well as their signature ‘tofish’ (tofu-based vegan fish), they offer meat-free versions of smoked haddock, prawns, calamari and more.

“It’s a good product that aids a good cause,’ Kevyn explains. “We thought: if we open a vegan fish and chip shop, we can show people how to take on the fish and chip industry.’”

A passionate culinary city

The partners chose Brighton for a few reasons. Not only is the city a diverse and welcoming place, it’s also popular with tourists in the summer months. Additionally, Brighton is home to a thriving vegan community – as well as many non-vegans willing to try new things. “Very few fish and chip shops are exclusively vegan,” Kevyn points out. “If we can cook something just as tasty as the traditional option, and as close as possible in flavour and texture, then we’re more than halfway there.”

Top tips for entrepreneurs

Despite the success of their new venture, the duo stress that budding entrepreneurs should be ready to face challenges. That means learning from those who’ve been in the same spot. “Listening to podcasts where entrepreneurs discuss their initial struggles and ideas, how long it took them, how much investment they needed – that’s all vital,” Kevyn says. “Even ask people you already know, or those who you feel may be interested in helping you. People can always surprise you!”

The most entrepreneurial streets in Brighton and Hove identified by Superscript:

  • Kings Road
  • North and South Laines
  • Churchill Square Shopping Centre

List of business resources available to people in Brighton and Hove

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Discover what the entrepreneurial streets are for each of the other cities, along with some useful resources for entrepreneurs to get started.

Southampton

The most entrepreneurial streets in Southampton identified by Superscript:

  • East Street
  • Oxford Street

List of business resources available to people in Southampton:

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Peterborough

The most entrepreneurial streets in Peterborough identified by Superscript:

  • Bridge Street
  • Westgate Arcade
  • Broadway

List of business resources available to people in Peterborough:

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Manchester

The most entrepreneurial streets in Manchester identified by Superscript:

  • Oldham Street
  • Oak Street
  • Church Street

List of business resources available to people in Manchester:

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Gloucester

The most entrepreneurial streets in Gloucester identified by Superscript:

  • Gloucester Quays
  • Westgate Street
  • Northgate/Southgate Street

List of business resources available to people in Gloucester:

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Preston

The most entrepreneurial streets in Preston identified by Superscript:

  • Friargate
  • Lune Street
  • Winckley Street

List of business resources available to people in Preston:

  • Preston City Council: Delivers essential support for businesses situated in Preston.
  • Preston Partnership: Bringing together businesses who aim to grow and develop the city.
  • Visit Preston: Providing key information to those who wish to visit or invest in Preston.

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Cardiff

The most entrepreneurial streets in Cardiff identified by Superscript:

  • Friars Walk
  • Westgate Street
  • Queen Street

List of business resources available to people in Cardiff:

  • Cardiff Council: Supporting businesses situated in Cardiff.
  • For Cardiff: A business development district (BID) to provide community support to businesses in Cardiff.
  • Invest in Cardiff: An investment organisation providing bespoke business support packages which enable investors to support and grow businesses in the city.

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Sunderland

The most entrepreneurial streets in Sunderland identified by Superscript:

  • High Street West
  • Whitburn Road-Morrisons (Stack Seaburn)
  • Burdon Road

List of business resources available to people in Sunderland:

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Carlisle

The most entrepreneurial streets in Carlisle identified by Superscript:

  • Bitts Park
  • Fisher Street
  • English Street

List of business resources available to people in Carlisle:

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Towns

Northampton

Success Story: Saints Coffee Bar - St Giles’ Street

Ben Francoise and Nicola Butler launched Saints Coffee Bar with the aim of creating a “high-quality and ethical” coffee shop and bar. That’s why they pledged 25% of their profits towards three key initiatives: championing social justice by working with schools, businesses and charities; improving social mobility by supporting fledgling businesses; and developing local schemes to support mental health.

Having grown up close to Northampton, the city is close to Ben’s heart. “A lot of the opportunities I was afforded as a student came purely from people trying to help me,” he reflects. “I’d be remiss not to try and pay that back.”

Community focused

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic hampered the launch of Saints Coffee Bar, forcing Ben and Nicola to start out with an online model. However, they still gained a loyal following, and wasted no time putting their profits back into the community.

“Businesses need to have a purpose beyond profit,” Ben says. “That was right at the heart of what we were doing. It helps a lot from an entrepreneurial perspective. It makes the business’s processes very clear.’

“We want to be involved with as many schools as possible, have people come through the coffee shop for our Coffee in the Community scheme, and also as part of our employability programme.”

How to support local entrepreneurs

Reflecting on ways founding a business could be made easier for new entrepreneurs, Ben stresses how “flexible thinking and a little bit more nimbleness of mind, especially for many central authorities to try and make use of vacant spaces,” could free up much-needed spots on the high-street.

Ultimately, though, he emphasises the feel-good factor: “I would definitely recommend others to give starting a business a go. It’s rewarding to be able to set something up and take continued responsibility for that creation while also knowing you’re responsible for customers, for employees, for the environment you're creating.”

The most entrepreneurial streets in Northampton identified by Superscript:

  • St Giles’ Street
  • Abingdon Street

List of business resources available to people in Northampton:

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Kettering

Success Story: The Refill Van - The Yards

Tarnya (Tarn) Bayes has always been keen to live a more sustainable lifestyle. In 2019, she seized an opportunity to take this passion to the next level and launched a business dedicated to reducing plastic waste and promoting eco-friendly products.

Enter Ralph, the affectionately named vehicle at the heart of The Refill Van – a package-free product and grocery mobile delivery service. Supplying an array of home, health and beauty products, items are weighed and filled into customer containers as asked, providing a complete bespoke service.

With strong social and political support for eco-friendly products and services in the area, Kettering was the perfect town to start a sustainable business venture. The venture has now grown in both size and scale, and Tarn jumped at the opportunity to open a shop at The Yards, Kettering in May 2021.

A community effort

Tarn looked to ensure all products for the van were local, sustainably sourced, eco-friendly and Fairtrade. As the business has flourished, more local suppliers have also come on board.

“It's all about supporting local businesses, sole traders, and supporting these enterprises,” Tarn explains. As businesses have continued to be affected by COVID-19, The Refill Van’s business model has remained resilient – its delivery and collection service appealing to those who are vulnerable or self-isolating. However, Tarn notes that being entirely self-funded has made adding to product lines a slower process, yet she exudes pride for her grassroots business - noting the support from local residents.

“A strong green community exists within Kettering, which has been behind our business and our goals all the way. This extends to Kettering Borough Council which, from our experience, is conscious about protecting the planet and continues to roll up its sleeves to see what can be done within the town. Altogether, this makes Kettering the perfect location for running an eco-friendly business like The Refill Van.”

Advice for those with ambition

For budding entrepreneurs, Tarn highlights the importance of passion and enthusiasm as well as resilience to common challenges. “It’s not going to make me a millionaire, but it’s going to make me a millionaire in my heart, and I know I'm doing my bit,” she adds fervently. “Even if people just replace their brush with a bamboo one, less plastic will be needed […] it makes my heart sing. It’s so worth it, you won’t regret it.”

The most entrepreneurial streets in Kettering identified by Superscript:

  • Gold/Silver Street
  • Market Street

List of business resources available to people in Kettering

  • Recovery Through Enterprise: Provides essential business support, employment support and strategic planning, in partnership with North Northamptonshire Council.
  • North Northants Business Network: A growing business community for businesses based in Kettering and surrounding towns in North Northamptonshire.

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Discover what the entrepreneurial streets are for each of the other towns, along with some useful resources for entrepreneurs to get started.

Eastbourne

The most entrepreneurial streets in Eastbourne identified by Superscript:

  • Terminus Road
  • Bolton Road
  • Station Parade

List of business resources available to people in Eastbourne:

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Chesterfield

The most entrepreneurial streets in Chesterfield identified by Superscript:

  • Chatsworth Road
  • Steeplegate
  • Market Place

List of business resources available to people in Chesterfield:

  • Chesterfield Borough Council: Providing advice and information to entrepreneurs looking to start a business as well as further support to existing businesses.
  • Chesterfield Chamber: With more than 600 members across a variety of industries and representing over 25,000 employees, the Chamber provides essential business support to businesses situated in Chesterfield.
  • Chesterfield Business: Detailing opportunities and programmes for new and existing local businesses.

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Chorley

The most entrepreneurial streets in Chorley identified by Superscript:

  • Chapel Street
  • Market Street
  • High Street

List of business resources available to people in Chorley:

  • Chorley Council: Provides information around business support funding and events, grants, employment support and available business sites.
  • Unique Ladies Business Networking Chorley: Established to provide network opportunities for female entrepreneurs
  • Choose Chorley for Business: Providing guidance and support to existing businesses, start-ups, as well as those looking to relocate their organisation to Chorley.

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Maidstone

The most entrepreneurial streets in Maidstone identified by Superscript:

  • Bank Street
  • Gabriel's Hill
  • High Street (The Royal Star Arcade)

List of business resources available to people in Maidstone:

  • Maidstone Borough Council: Delivering essential information and guidance to businesses in Maidstone.
  • Business in Maidstone: Working alongside a range of organisations, Business in Maidstone offers unlimited business support to entrepreneurs or business owners relating to starting a business, legal advice and more.
  • Maidstone Business Networking: Promotes network opportunities for business owners in Maidstone.

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Horsham

The most entrepreneurial streets in Horsham identified by Superscript:

  • Carfax
  • East/West Street
  • Piries Place

List of business resources available to people in Horsham:

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Oldham

The most entrepreneurial street in Oldham identified by Superscript:

  • Tommyfield Market

List of business resources available to people in Oldham:

  • Oldham Council: For businesses who wish to gain additional support and guidance in starting or growing an existing business.
  • Oldham Business Network: An online network for businesses in the local community

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Barnsley

The most entrepreneurial streets in Barnsley identified by Superscript:

  • The Victorian Arcade
  • The Arcade
  • George's Yard/Square

List of business resources available to people in Barnsley:

  • Enterprising Barnsley: The council’s economic arm which provides support to those who wish to invest or move to Barnsley, as well as start-ups and existing businesses who wish to grow in the area.
  • Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber: Providing essential business support, training events and networking opportunities to entrepreneurs and business owners in Barnsley and Rotherham.

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Blackpool

The most entrepreneurial streets in Blackpool identified by Superscript:

  • Abingdon Street Market
  • The Regent
  • Church Street

List of business resources available to people in Blackpool:

  • Blackpool Council: Offering key business support and advice to businesses in Blackpool, covering business rates, permits, funding and more.
  • Blackpool Unlimited: Enabling businesses to thrive with essential information and guidance for new and existing businesses.
  • BOOST Lancashire's Business Growth Hub: Operated by Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership), the hub has sought to support Lancashire businesses grow with a range of funded programmes and mentoring and network opportunities.

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