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Birmingham is the best city in the UK for small businesses

Birmingham is the best city in the UK for small businesses


Birmingham has relatively cheap rent and a high level of investment

Birmingham is the top-performing UK city in the Small Business Index 2019.

The research comes from mobile payments platform, SumUp, showing how high levels of external support and investment can offset the rising rent and property across Europe.

It analyses the 100 most populous cities across Europe and ranks them according to:

  • The amount and type of small businesses
  • Density
  • Property
  • Forms of external support

Ranking 10th place overall and first place for the UK, Birmingham offers relatively cheap rent and high levels of investment.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) commended Birmingham City Council with an award to stimulate the growth of SMEs across the city. Glasgow, Scotland’s most populous city, ranks just behind in 11th place. This is partly thanks to its low density of small businesses per capita.

Index rank City Small businesses Density Rent and property External support Total score (out of 10)
10 Birmingham 8.64 5.45 6.91 9.64 9.18
11 Glasgow 7.27 3.91 8.91 9.45 9.09
17 London 10.00 5.27 3.82 9.91 8.55
25 Liverpool 7.36 8.00 4.91 9.09 7.82
38 Edinburgh 7.09 9.27 2.09 9 6.64
44 Manchester 7.91 7.09 1.36 9.73 6.09
46 Leeds 6.73 5.64 3.09 9.55 5.91
47 Leicester 4.91 7.82 4.27 8.82 5.82
53 Bristol 6.18 8.55 1.91 9.18 5.27
54 Cardiff 6.00 9.82 1.73 8.73 5.18
59 Wakefield 3.91 5.55 4.36 9.36 4.73
67 Sheffield 4.45 7.73 2.09 8.91 4.00
82 Coventry 3.00 6.27 1.27 8.45 2.64

The UK holds many of the top positions thanks to Glasgow’s availability of rental spaces, London’s volume of enterprise and Manchester’s level of external support (financial measures, initiative of the population and subsidies supporting small businesses).

Elsewhere in Europe, Valencia and Madrid rank first and second place, and Germany steals nine of the top thirty places in the ranking.

Rank City Country Small businesses Density Rent and property External support Score (out of 10)
1 Valencia Spain 8.00 8.64 9.36 6.82 10.00
2 Madrid Spain 9.82 7.27 7.18 8.55 9.91
3 Vienna Austria 9.55 6.36 7.91 8.18 9.82
4 Berlin Germany 9.73 4.82 7.91 8.00 9.73
5 Barcelona Spain 9.36 8.82 6.27 8.36 9.64
6 Warsaw Poland 9.18 6.45 9.73 3.00 9.55
7 Essen Germany 7.64 9.45 9.27 3.73 9.45
8 Athens Greece 7.73 9.64 8.00 6.09 9.36
9 Prague Czech Republic 9.45 6.82 8.27 4.09 9.27
10 Birmingham England 8.64 5.45 6.91 9.64 9.18
11 Glasgow Scotland 7.27 3.91 8.91 9.45 9.09
12 Düsseldorf Germany 8.36 9.09 6.45 5.73 9.00
13 Hamburg Germany 9.64 8.09 4.91 7.36 8.91
14 Seville Spain 7.00 8.36 7.64 5.64 8.82
15 Duisburg Germany 6.27 8.73 9.27 3.09 8.73

“Small businesses support local people and protect the culture and authenticity of a city. At SumUp, we know it takes resilience and drive to overcome market competition,” says Marc Alexander Christ, co-founder of SumUp.

Tempted to start a business? Try:

The essential guide to starting a business in Glasgow

The essential guide to starting a business in Leeds

The essential guide to starting a business in Newcastle

The essential guide to starting a business in Cardiff



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