Recorded as having the highest number of new startups in 2014, as well as the most active business population, Birmingham is home to one of the largest business conference venues in Britain: the National Exhibition Centre. It also houses the Bullring, one of the UK’s top commercial centres, which currently accommodates over 500 brands.
Its most recent accomplishments include establishing itself as a tech hub otherwise known as “Silicon Tech Canal”, with support for startups coming in the form of the Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone, which aims to create 40,000 new jobs and add £2bn a year to the economy over the next 25 years.
February 2015 saw the launch of Natwest’s accelerator programme at Birmingham’s St Philip’s Place, launched in partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark, which has space for 80 entrepreneurs and culminates with an investor event with cash rewards of up to £50,000 on offer.
It also has a plethora of science parks which offer mentoring, office facilities and research and collaboration opportunities. And additional incubator schemes include Entrepreneurs 4 Future, which is targeted at early-stage tech and clean tech businesses. Birmingham further boasts its own Business & IP Centre – an EU-backed support service created in partnership with the British Library – which opened in July 2014. It offers a wide range of materials and resources, as well as access to free and low-cost business workshops, seminars and one-to-one advice services.
Based on the above, it’s not hard to see why Birmingham was the fourth city selected for such a centre.
(4) Brighton and Hove
Brighton, otherwise known as “Silicon Beach”, is one of the UK’s entrepreneurial capitals with more startups per capita than anywhere else in the UK.
With plenty of office space available at several sites, it also features enterprise centre Denton Island, which provides incubator units for startups with one to ten people, as well as the Sussex Innovation Centre, which aims to help startups and corporate innovators. Coast 2 Capital is another initiative looking to foster growth by connecting new and established local businesses with relevant support services. By 2030, it wants the city to have a sustainable economy, as well as be resource-efficient.
Indeed, Brighton seems geared for support, with the city also offering startups with high-growth potential the opportunity to attain funding from University of Sussex’s leading science park. Entrepreneurs will also have access to fund management organisation Finance South East.
Then there’s the Digital Catapult, which will focus primarily on the “Internet of Place”, and will be looking to develop innovative projects for small businesses to use and learn from, as well as hosting a series of events to foster collaboration.
In terms of attaining talent, there are several initiatives available, including the University of Brighton-operated CENTRIM, which offers an internship programme linking graduates with local companies.
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