Record year for UK’s start-ups as 700,000 firms launched

Business start-ups ‘set records’ last year, with almost 700,000 new firms launched in the UK in 2019 – a 2.8% rise o the year before.

Data shows that 681,704 were birthed in Britain, as growing high-tech firms snapped up more than £10bn in venture capital investment.

This is a record number, and considered especially noteworthy as it comes during a period of productivity stagnation and prolonged uncertainty amid a third year of Brexit negotiations which has hit business confidence and investment.

“It is encouraging that despite a politically turbulent year in which business confidence hit new lows, business formations continued to set records,” said Matt Smith, director of policy and research at the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CfE).

“It suggests that entrepreneurial spirit is well and truly embedded across the UK with entrepreneurs continuing to turn their ideas into action.”

Analysis by LearnBonds shows more than 45,000 tech start-ups were launched across the UK, a rate of more than five new digital firms established every hour.

Indeed, tech start-ups accounted for 6.6% of all new businesses formed in the UK last year.

Just over 17,400 of these young high-tech firms were registered in London, representing 8.2% of the total.

However, there are several other growing digital hubs across the UK which are also attracting significant amounts of funding, according to the CfE, with Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, Winchester and Cambridge all highlighted.

In total, UK tech firms attracted £10.1bn from private equity firms last year, a 44% jump compared to a year ago which broke the industry’s all-time high set in 2017.

This UK figure topped global digital new business funding, including in the US and China, where investment fell 20% and 65& respectively, according to research this week from UK digital lobby group Tech Nation and data body Dealroom.

Across Europe, the UK picked up a third of Europe’s £30.4bn total tech funding. It attracted more cash than Germany and France combined, which came in second and third place at £5.4bn and £3.4bn across the region.

More widely in the UK, new firms were launched in over 700 different industries, according to the CfE research.

A geographical comparison shows London continues to be the centre of new businesses in the UK, with 221,373 start-ups last year, a 2.4% increase.

Birmingham was home to 14,509 young firms over the period, compared to Manchester’s 9,064 new companies. However, the CfE said the North West city was ‘more entrepreneurial when considering population size’.

Strong new business growth relative to population size in Cheshire East, Salford, Trafford and Stockport also boosted the North West, leaving the North East and Yorkshire and Humber alongside Wales, Scotland and the South West as the five least entrepreneurial areas of the country.