Some 19,000 businesses have set up in Birmingham in the last year, and it looks as though Britain’s second city will once again be known as the “city of a thousand trades”.
But why are people opting for Birmingham? It seems that businesses are drawn by its attractive rents (at least compared to London), generous grants from Birmingham City Council to attract new businesses, and cheaper staffing costs. Birmingham’s city centre is far more compact that London, which means it’s far easier getting from A to B than in London. If the capital calls, frequent and fast trains speed between the two cities all day, and you can make the journey in as little as 1 hour 25 minutes. The proposed fast speed rail link (HS2) which should touch down in Birmingham in 2026 and will link London and Birmingham in just 40 minutes. Get ahead of the game by establishing yourself in Birmingham before the HS2 is constructed.
As well as great links to the capital and airports like Heathrow and East Midlands, there are also plenty of big businesses in spitting distance. Cambridge University and its tech hub are an easy hour drive away, providing great networking opportunities and a pool of bright graduates from whom to cherry pick.
The latest figures released by a Barclays and BGF entrepreneurs index report show that 26 per cent of all companies in the Midlands are categorised as high growth - owing no small part to the support they receive in Birmingham. As well as strong research and development in the area, Birmingham is also home to an enormous number of engineering companies, many of which have strong export links to China. And, for start-ups, the Innovation Birmingham Campus is a 38,000 square metre complex which provides conference facilities, office space, and development zones where businesses are encouraged to network with one another.
It’s time to look beyond the traditional tech start-up cities of Berlin, Copenhagen and Dublin, and see where the next promising location could be for start-ups. In the next instalment of the EU Hotspots series, we look at Malmo.