The Top 5 Places in the UK to setup a Business outside of London

It may feel that to succeed in business, you need to be based in London. With the media having such a London-centric focus, it can be easy to forget that the UK is full of thriving cities where small businesses are encouraged to open and are supported to help them grow. If you are looking to set-up a business outside of London, here are our top 5 recommended locations away from the Big Smoke.

Top Places In The UK To Setup A Business Outside Of London


Held to be the UK’s ‘Second City’ and boasting the largest active business population outside of London, Birmingham remains a popular location for start-ups. Not only does it have The Bullring, a leading commercial centre, but it is also home to the NEC and the ICC. Having these two large venues close-by means that Birmingham attracts a lot of conference and exhibition trade. Basically, the customers will come to you. 

Another fantastic reason to set-up in Birmingham is the amazing, supportive small business community. Innovative co-working spaces are the norm and plans to regenerate and rejuvenate the lively area of Digbeth have just been announced. Up to 2.2 million square feet of commercial space and 1850 homes, shops, restaurants, cafés and additional leisure facilities will be built. The project will create many jobs and represents a huge economic boost for the Midlands.


Voted the best place to live for under-26s in 2019, Bristol is a thriving mix of innovative, cultural and creative outlets. A harbour city, Bristol is a popular tourist destination and has a growing start-up community, probably due to its impressive business survival rate. 

Despite the challenges faced by businesses, ‘a Bristol company has been named the West of England’s most innovative technology business of 2020’. 

As a result of this tech boom many coworking offices in Bristol are opening. This means that you will be mixing with some of the finest and most innovative entrepreneurs, all supporting a thriving start-up community. 


Steeped in history, Manchester was the UK’s first industrialised city. It has continued to push boundaries. Not only is it the city where scientists first split the atom, but it is also the place where graphene was produced. It is home to no less than 5 universities and the relocation of many departments of the BBC to Media City cemented its status as a leader in the media, culture, music and sport sectors.

Reports this year by CFI show that ‘Manchester has seen the lion’s share of foreign and domestic investment, and research shows that it outshines London as the best European city to invest in for innovation-centred growth businesses.’ Exciting areas such as New Islington, Ancoats and Manchester Science Park are all leading the way in developing areas where new businesses can set-up and utilise the talent and creativity of Manchester’s population.


The Welsh Capital, Cardiff is a popular city and retail, leisure and tourism make up a large proportion of its economy. It is also the main financial hub of Wales and there is a thriving media sector. The city is home to 3 universities meaning companies have access to top talent who bring with them the skills to help businesses succeed and grow. 

A recent announcement from the UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma has brought more excitement to an already lively city. ‘Innovative businesses and start-ups across Wales are set to benefit from a £40 million UK Government investment to drive forward new technological advances’ reports Business New Wales. This is great news to anyone thinking of starting a business in these tricky times.


It isn’t just about business when thinking about locations. You need to consider what happens outside of working hours, and Edinburgh is the perfect place where people want to work, rest and play. Edinburgh has been named as one of the world’s top 20 cities for wellbeing, according to a new study from property consultancy Knight Frank. These rankings mean that Edinburgh should expect to see more entrepreneurs and start-ups moving to the city.

It is much cheaper to start a business in Edinburgh than it is in London, and there is a large highly-educated pool of talent to select from. Scientific research, higher education and financial services make up a significant proportion of the local economy. But, with Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe festival, culture and creativity is also strongly evident.

With such a diverse range of places UK-wide to consider, you and your new business are spoilt for choice. Consider carefully the premises you need, the atmosphere you desire and the talent you can utilise to help you grow your business. There are many exciting developments happening away from London, setting up in a different city is sure to be a positive decision.

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