Good Broadband Helps Find the Top 69 UK Cities for Starting a Business - ISPreview UK
A recent study from Quality Formations has ranked 69 of the United Kingdom’s cities by how attractive they are for starting a new company. Overall Derby came top and unsurprisingly the quality of local broadband plays an important part, both in terms of the best and worst cities.

The company formation agent produced the table by marking each UK city on eight criteria: commercial property (rent costs, availability etc.), energy, virtual office services, public transport, broadband service (average download speed), workforce demographics, access to finance (e.g. available grants) and quality of life (e.g. home rental prices, crime, affordable childcare).

Apparently subcategories, such as broadband download speeds and the current availability of prime office space, were all scored out of ten in order to help create an all-encompassing national league table. The broadband speed data was sourced from Cable.co.uk, although crucially speedtests are not a reliable reflection of the underlying availability of even faster connections (we’ve highlighted availability on some of the below examples).

Otherwise it’s important to point out that sometimes cities with a thriving business focused local economy aren’t actually the best for starting a new company. For example, Aberdeen (Scotland) was ranked a lowly 66th despite being the UK’s oil capital and having numerous industrial successes, but this also means that the cost of starting and maintaining a company in the city “has become simply untenable for many small business owners.”

The Best Cities


Overall Derby (Derbyshire, England) topped the table because it is “by far the most affordable, accessible and supportive city in the UK to launch a new startup” and it’s especially strong in the tech sector (12% of its workforce are employed in hi-tech industry, which is double most other cities).

Virtual office services were also found to be extremely cheap in Derby (£55 per month) and typical broadband download speeds tended to hover around 24Mbps (Megabits per second). In fairness the general availability of superfast broadband networks in Derby are also nearly universal.

Elsewhere the best city in Scotland was found to be Stirling (ranked 8th overall), although it only delivered typical download speeds of around 14Mbps and we note that the local availability of superfast broadband is only just pushing above the 70% mark (clearly broadband wasn’t a prime factor here).

However spare a thought for poor Wales and its “top” city of Newport, which ranks 28th overall and thus sits roughly middle. The city did reasonably well thanks to its affordable commercial property and typical average download speeds of around 20Mbps, but it still sits mid-table due to problems in other categories. We also note that local superfast broadband availability tends to sit at around the 90%+ mark.

The Worst City


Obviously somebody has to come last in this table and that gong goes to Hereford in England, which was due to its “complete lack of business infrastructure“, lack of office space, expensive virtual office prices, limit access to grants for start-ups and the fact that broadband speeds in the city are also slow at 9Mbps. The availability of superfast connections also tends to sit at around the low 70% mark. Other small UK cathedral cities also struggled for a good ranking.

The Top UK Cities for Starting a Company

  1. Derby
  2. Stoke-on-Trent
  3. Belfast
  4. Wolverhampton
  5. Sunderland
  6. Lincoln
  7. Coventry
  8. Stirling
  9. Liverpool
  10. Durham
  11. Armagh
  12. St Albans
  13. Lichfield
  14. Wakefield
  15. Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  16. Glasgow
  17. Bradford
  18. Sheffield
  19. Preston
  20. Salford
  21. Manchester
  22. Winchester
  23. Nottingham
  24. London
  25. Leeds
  26. Worcester
  27. Southampton
  28. Newport
  29. Londonderry
  30. Edinburgh
  31. Cambridge
  32. Lisburn
  33. Westminster
  34. Norwich
  35. Gloucester
  36. Birmingham
  37. Bristol
  38. Lancaster
  39. Peterborough
  40. Cardiff
  41. Leicester
  42. Chester
  43. Salisbury
  44. Kingston-upon-Hull
  45. Swansea
  46. Exeter
  47. Oxford
  48. Ely
  49. Perth
  50. Chelmsford
  51. York
  52. St David’s
  53. Dundee
  54. Truro
  55. Plymouth
  56. Brighton & Hove
  57. Bangor
  58. Bath
  59. Portsmouth
  60. Chichester
  61. Newry
  62. St Asaph
  63. Canterbury
  64. Ripon
  65. Carlisle
  66. Aberdeen
  67. Inverness
  68. Wells
  69. Hereford